The fact that sign writing has become a lost art in this age is a shame. Rewind the clock 40 years and you would find businesses and suburban landscapes communicating with people through hand written signage.
Unfortunately the computer has killed the sign writer, and it was the sign writer that made our business unique. The customers and idle bystanders stood and watched in awe as the letterforms flew off the tips of our brushes. The customer seldom concerned himself with type style or layout. The sign shop was almost always owned and operated by someone with a creative gift and a true love and passion for signs.
While many other sign shops began to incorporate the crude vinyl machines into their shops in the ’80s, we rebelled. We lettered faster than they could vinyl. Not to mention the fact that all of their signs looked the same and were void of any character. We were proud, content, and perhaps a bit smug.
“Unfortunately the computer has killed the sign writer, and it was the sign writer that made our business unique”.
It didn’t take long for the computer geniuses to turn the PC into a design and production tool with which we could live. In 1985 Stafford Spicer Signs, added a used Apple computer for accounting and a then powerful 386 PC to cut vinyl. We could now merge our creative designs and layouts with precision each and every time.
In a short time technology was proven and was obviously here to stay. But, something terrible happened along the way. The sign business became one of the hot franchise investments. The computer had allowed scores to enter the sign business with no experience and creative ability. And, worst of all, there was no love, respect or understanding of the craft.
Every now and then we have the pleasure of picking up where we left off all those years ago, and are given the opportunity to create one-off hand written sign pieces. This week we were able to take on a project involving the art of gold leaf lettering. The process first involves first applying a ‘bole’ or paint to the sign, and crafting the lettering. Applying the gilded 24 carat gold is the next process which is applied by pressing down with your finger. Once this has bonded with the paint, the excess can then be removed with a dry brush. And the results are astounding!