Invisible Artists – A Preview of ‘Sign Painters’

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My theory about signage and typography has been proven true countless times. It predicts that no matter how perfect a new business is set-up, if they use a questionable font for their signage, the business will suffer and eventually close within six months. Okay, maybe it can take up to a year, but inevitably it comes true, I swear. Unfortunately, in most cases signage has become a thoughtless second to other branding materials. But artful, hand-painted, hand-crafted signage was once the shining star.

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Faythe Levine and Sam Macon are determined to give this forgotten art a second life. Authors of the book Sign Painters, their new documentary of the same name, delves into the rich history behind hand painted signs. Each artist reaches back into their heyday to tell the story of their craft. In doing so, the lost art of hand-painted signage surfaces as a larger issue that comments on industry, globalization and how technology has significantly altered our lives.

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As we’ve seen all week, a resurgence of craftsmanship is brewing among all mediums. Hand-painted signage is included in this regrowth. In my city alone, artist Dave Arnold operating under his company Mr. Sign, has changed the face of businesses in my neighbourhood. The time and patience that goes into executing a hand-painted sign is a call back to an era that may have taken longer to get things done, but that offered an unparalleled uniqueness in craft. Perhaps, its rebirth is indicative of a society that sometimes needs to slow down.

Sign Painters hasn’t been picked up for distribution yet, so if it happens to be playing at a festival or museum near you, jump at the chance to see this film.

Christina Stimpson

June 6, 2013 / By

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