Click Here to Listen to the Talk of the Nation story on “Sign Painters”
Before the age of computers and vinyl printers, sign painters worked by hand to illustrate storefronts, billboards and banners. Local craftsmen often developed a signature style that could distinguish a neighborhood, or even a city.
But technology made creating signs less expensive — and less expressive. Sign Painters, a new book and documentary written and directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, focuses on dozens of artists who are keeping the art alive.
Before Macon began working on the film, he said never thought much about sign painting.
“I had never really given any thought to the fact that this is someone’s job, and the fact that individuals across America were painting signs regionally that defined the way the United States looked,” Macon told NPR’s Neal Conan.
Once word got out about the project in the sign-painting community, they were flooded with personal stories. “We were totally inundated in the best way, and we ended up having more content than we could track down,” Macon said.
One of the painters featured in the project is Norma Jeanne Maloney. She opened her business, Red Rider Paint and Sign Studios, in 1996 in San Francisco, then relocated to Nashville; she now lives in Austin.
She says she’s been captivated by typography since she was a child.
“I wouldn’t do anything else regardless of what the pay is,” she says. “It’s like having canvasses all over town of your art.”
She remembers moving to Nashville and trying to make a name for herself. She offered to paint the sign of a Nashville bar for free and got six other job offers that day.
“I handed out my cards, and I basically painted lower Broadway,” says Maloney.
Macon says he hopes the project will bring new life to the craft. “Whenever you set out on a project like this, you sort of have an idea that you’re going to go out and define sign painters. And as we shot more and more, and met more interesting people, we realized that you can’t define a sign painter any better than you can define a radio host.”
This project for The Concho Pearl in San Angelo, Texas consisted of full branding, which included logo design, exterior building color scheme and original design graphics and signage all over the building to capture a circa 1940s Texas Ice House feel.
Just wanted everyone to know that we sent out the first batch of orders today even though our town is covered in ice from the storm! Response has far exceeded our expectations and we want to sincerely thank all of you who have ordered your sets, we have been getting orders from all over the world and if orders keep coming in at this rate I think we will be sold out next week! Thanks for the support everyone, we are blown away! Sets available here: http://shop.starrstudios.net/product/mack-lettering-brushes-starr-studios-series
The Mack Starr Studios Series of lettering brushes were specially developed by Mack and Sean Starr to provide the best overall brush for veteran sign painters and beginners alike.
These brushes can carry a lot of paint and are excellent for production and larger lettering. They are a good choice for most surfaces and are made of pure squirrel and black ox hair.
These brushes have a lot of similarities to the Mack 1962 Series and are the same daily go-to brushes used in our studio. The set contains (4) brush sizes which will work for the majority of lettering projects, which include: (1) .5” (1) .375” (1) .25” (1) .125”
This is a Limited Edition Series and we only have a small stock on hand. Once these are gone, they are gone for good. Mack has been the leader in lettering brushes since 1891 and have been our brush of choice since the 1980s.
Available exclusively here in our store. International shipping available.
U.S.A. Shipping & Handling $5
International Shipping $20
We recently completed the first phase of sign painting at Dziuk’s Meat Market which is located in Castroville, Texas. The project consisted of original design, gold leaf on glass and a huge mural on reclaimed barnwood. We worked on the project with the folks at Tangelo, a Houston based creative agency. Dziuk’s Meat Market has been a South Texas institution since 1975 and is located in the Alsatian settlement town of Castroville.
We designed and executed these in Fort Worth, Gold Leaf (in this case silver leaf) graphics are painted in reverse on the inside of the glass. These were created for the Historic Max Mehl Building for Emily B. McLaughlin, the Law Offices of Martin & Sibilsky and the Law Offices of William T. Fitgerald.
These beauties are 5” x 2”, just the right size to declare your love for the craft. Designed by Starr Studios with a little plagiarism on the tagline from Red Rider Studio’s Norma Jeanne Maloney (please don’t sue us Norma Jeanne).
5 bucks gets you 2 stickers.
COOLEST. NEWS. EVER.
We have been using brushes from the Mack Brush Company for over 20 years (they’ve been making sign painting brushes since 1891 y’all) Mack contacted us a while back about developing a brush series with Starr Studios, and we are happy to announce that we will soon have the Starr Studios Series of lettering brushes available, designed to our specs. These are great brushes that will be a staple for veteran sign painters as well as a killer set for those of you just entering into the trade.
We will be posting here as soon as they become available!