Monday, November 22, 2010

Sign Painter Documentary Looks Timely

I remember being really curious about the signage I saw around town when I was growing up in Saginaw, MI. From a very early age I was interested in signage and typography - though I had no idea what those terms were - and was struck by how beautifully precise the lettering was. In particular, I used to see the tag "Signs By Walt" at the bottom of some of my favorite signs. Maybe ten years old, I would ask my Mom - "Who is Walt? He's so amazing! Look at how cool these letters are!". Honestly, I was so curious about who this mystery genius was, I always looked for his name at the bottom of signs.

Seems I wasn't the only one into sign painting and sign painters, as evidenced by Sign Painting: a new documentary by Faythe Levin and Sam Macon.

From ImPrint:

Filmmakers Faythe Levine (Handmade Nation: the Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design) and Sam Macon are working on a new documentary on sign painters persisting in their hand-lettered craft. So far, they’ve shot in Olympia, Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, and Syracuse, with Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, and more to come. The film, by capturing the stories of sign painters both young and old, illustrates that although digital vinyl lettering has decimated the profession since the early 1980s, the craft still continues to draw in many young painters with an eye for the handmade quality that digital work so clearly lacks.

Then there are the old-timers, like 90-year-old Rey Giese of San Jose, who has been painting signs since the Great Depression and is still going. And everyone seems to have a story about how they picked up the trade, whether it was from a friend, in a trade school, in prison, or as a way to continue a youthful love of lettering first brought out in graffiti. Stay tuned for more updates on this feature, projected for release in 2012.

For more information and images, go here.