Thursday, August 12, 2010

Irish Signs

Most shop fronts in Ireland still have hand-painted signs.

John Herrick’s sign shop in Galway is down an alley next door to an instrument maker. Like most sign painters, he is also an artist and he offers art lessons.

Ma Murphy’s pub in Bantry shows the architectural setting—a fairly typical Irish facade, framed with pilasters, scroll corbels, and a dentillated cornice.

Curving baselines, shadow lettering, and Nouveau flourishes give distinctive touches set this sign apart from cheap computer-generated plastic signs.

The illusion of dimensional lettering on a flat surface is often created with five premixed tones: light side, shadow side, dark accent, highlight, and cast shadow. Such work takes specialized brushes and brush skills, and it’s a dying art in many other countries.
Previously: Hand-Painted Signs (mostly North African).
There are several Flickr groups devoted to this subject:
“Hand-Painted Signs of the World.”
“Folk Typography”
“Signpaintr,” dedicated to the lost art of hand-lettering
“Hand-Painted Signs of Cambodia.”


Haylee said...

Wow! Someone with the last name "Herrick"!! Thanks for sharing!

JG O'Donoghue said...

Ah I hadnt thought much about those signs before, I have drank many times in Ma Murphys, turns out too, I sent ur blog post about Godsons folly to my parents and they said they said a quick hello to u and ur wife when ye were in Scart Road, Bantry a day or two ago! small world

Max West said...

Those hand painted signs definitely have a unique look to them. It's quite a sight to see in this day and age of digital printing and silkscreening.

Unknown said...

Man those are some cool skills. When i was younger i used to wonder about those signs and think "surely no one could actually paint them that well, has to be stickers." Love it.

Johan said...

The remarkable thing about these signs is that they stood out ages ago, and they still stand out today, in times of ipods and ipads.

Goes to show that there is no surrogate for real craftmanship.

My Pen Name said...

I remember visiting ireland in 98- it was like a time capsule of the British Isles 50 years ago - changing fast - as w/ India - where movie posters where still hand painted until a few years ago.

of course, even by the time i visited Ireland, the swastika laundry was no longer in business :)

Anonymous said...

for many years my dad did all of the hand lettering and emblems on fire trucks in gold leaf and paint. I have quite a few of the vellum sheets with his pencil drawings on them that he would run a pounce wheel over to perforate and then apply the line drawing to the fire truck by stamping a velvet ball filled with blue chalk dust over it. He has a ton of photos of his work. Maybe I can get a few from him and shoot then your way. He was one of the best in the country and fire houses sent trucks to him from all over the country to be lettered, pin striped, have emblems painted on.
it all ended when they gave that work over to computer graphics and stickers. What a shame. I have since contacted the fire museum in columbus about showcasing my dads work.

T. Arispe said...

Thanks for sharing--hand-painted signs (and, well, hand-painted anything) are so rare these days. It's nice to see that there are still places where they're appreciated.

Colt Bowden said...

I think you would be interested in this documentary film being made right now:

They have been filming it for a few months now and are keeping updates on their blog and flickr. Fun stuff! For some of us, it pays the bills!

Ger said...

HI James. Turns out I know John Herrick, from my my youth in galway.I've been here in NY since 94.I remember painting Galway docks en plein air with John many moons ago. H'es a very nice man, as I'm sure you know if you met him. I'm getting back to plein air after a long abscence and your blog is very usefull. Your piece on umbrellas and the attachments was a big help recently. The best,Ger.