Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book review: "Sign Painters"

(Direct link to video book review) A lot of you liked the recent post about the sign painter documentary. I had a chance to read the book that goes with it, and it's so gorgeous and full of colorful photos that I had to show it to you in a video. Faythe Levine and Sam Macon assembled the book from the stories and photos that they gathered on their quest across America.

Their goal was to profile more than two dozen sign painters who have kept to their handmade tradition instead of going over to vinyl lettering. The book was published by Princeton Architectural Press, and I love the fact that the book cover and inside headlines are lettered by hand.

Sign Painters book on Amazon.
Sign Painter Blog
Previous GurneyJourney posts on lettering
There's a screening of the documentary at 2:00 on March 30 in Washington, DC, and later in Milwaukee, Vancouver, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati. More info on screenings.


Anonymous said...

Hi James, I found your blog via a comment on mine from one of your followers.

I nosed around in your lettering section and was just so glad to find someone who can handle an elbow pen and knows what Higgins Eternal Black is!!
I studied with and assisted Arnold Bank at CMU, graduated as the school's only calligraphy major (1972).

Though I am focusing more on oil painting at the moment, I will always be a calligrapher at heart, so nice to discover you.
Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris

Keith Parker said...

The video was cool and it looks like the book is also worthy of praise. Thanks for sharing. :)

Roberto said...

Thanks for the post, this is fun!
A book I find very helpful w basic layout and construction of fonts and spacing is:

‘Lettering Design - form and skill in the design & use of letters’ by Michael Harvey (Bonanza Books, N.Y.).
‘The art of Illuminated Letters - a practical guide for calligraphers’ by Patricia Seligman (Calligraphy by Timothy Noad)

I keep in my on-site brush-kit:
‘101 Tricks of the trade’ by E. C. Mathews, Nutwood publishing Co., St. Louis, Missouri.
Also … A paperback ed. of a ‘Webster’s dictionary’.

And just for fun in my studio library:
‘The Grimani Breviary’ pub. By Levenger Press

Thanx for the Journey. -RQ

Kraan said...

That's one book I am gonna buy! I want to know more about the topic so...thanks!!!

Carol Scown-Raynal said...

Hi James. I bought this book in december in Bordeaux/France and YES, I confirm it is a wonderful book. They put a light on sign painting - at last. It's like an old and very good actor who never received an oscar. At last, this book puts forward that art which is seen but not recognized. You are so right in making a new post on that. So much to say of sign painting.

sfox said...

Nice to see this. My first real job was as a sign painter's apprentice starting in 1976 with someone who had started out as an apprentice himself at age 14, mixing the day's sign paints from powder every morning. Fortunately we had One-Shot Sign Enamel by the time I started. Worked for him for five years, doing it all by hand. I still have my kit with all my brushes. He's still in business. Has the vinyl letter cutter but still does old style gold jobs and hand-lettering.

Andrew Bosley said...

Thanks for the post, James! I picked up this book a couple of months ago based solely on the beautiful cover. Didn't know a thing about sign painters. But this book blew me away! Now I can't stop thinking about signs. After reading the book and gaining a better understanding, I began to realize how many times my life has crossed paths with sign painters. Back in my mural painting days especially. Certainly a new appreciation was gained through this book. Can't wait to see the documentary!

Thanks for keeping up the blog, James! Huge fan and long time Gurney Journey follower. It has helped me tremendously over the years.

Andrew Bosley