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Thursday
Aug302012

Vintage Signage - a Whimsical Niche

This post is a curious reflection related to last week's post which highlighted ways in which savvy business owners are promoting their wares through quality, hand crafted signage. Some sign artists have discovered a niche for making old-looking signs - indulging the needs of a clientele who are pining for days gone by. The following video features a Tennessee sign shop - Sideshow Sign Company - and demonstrates their mastery of the art of "fictional nostalgia" by specializing in hand-made vintage typography.

According to owner, Luke Stockdale, ". . . it takes you back to the good old days when things were made well and the product was something you had for life."

I'm reminded as well of the work done by Dennis Gerathy, who hand-letters all kinds of vintage signs and whose work adorns the walls of Famous Dave's BBQ to create a nostalgic ambience. My friends Roderick Treece, who specializes in making antique mirrors and Larry White, who is unsurpassed in replicating exquisite ephemeral glass signs, are both testaments to this yearning for antiquity.

Vintage Glass Sign Replica by Larry WhiteI've addressed this same need several times in my own work as well. Only a few months ago I was commissioned to paint a "faux ghost sign" for a business - i.e. painting a sign on the face of a building and distressing it to make it look old and weathered.

This hearkening back to a simpler era is not a new phenomena, but the sentiment is certainly on the rise in our digital age of ubiquitous mass production. I love the countless benefits brought to my life through technological advances (after all I'm using the internet here) and it's naive for us to idolize the "good old days". Still there's a deepening sense these transitory benefits also have a trade-off where the enduring richness and individuality of something handcrafted is being exchanged for convenience and price.

So, this little muse is simply to praise this emerging niche where true craftsman are addressing this palpable desire for the distinctive personal touch brought through the hand of the artisan. These labors of love invariably bring smiles to the faces of those who encounter them and a well-deserved dollar to the pockets of the craftsmen who pour their hearts into creating them.

Now those are things worth celebrating!
 

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