Faythe Levine
Sam Macon
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2012, English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
7.5 x 9.5 inches, paperback 176 pages, 200 color illustrations
ISBN: 9781616890834
Suggested Retail Price: $24.95

There was a time, as recently as the 1980s, when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our visual landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade. In 2010 filmmakers Faythe Levine, coauthor of Handmade Nation, and Sam Macon began documenting these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods, and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship.

Sign Painters, the first anecdotal history of the craft, features stories and photographs of more than two dozen sign painters working in cities throughout the United States. With a foreword by legendary artist (and former sign painter) Ed Ruscha, this vibrant book profiles sign painters young and old, from the new vanguard working solo to collaborative shops such as San Francisco's New Bohemia Signs and New York’s Colossal Media's Sky High Murals.

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Alissa Walker

It’s perhaps the most drastic change to the built environment over the last few decades, as cookie-cutter vinyl letters invaded our storefronts, wrestling out the age-old tradition of hand-painted signs. But recently, a sharp reaction to our over-digitized lifestyle has birthed a renaissance in the art of sign painting. In profiling two dozen masters, Faythe Levine and Sam Macon trace the time-honored techniques that define the industry, and demonstrate how veterans are passing down their skills to an eager younger generation. From members of the legendary San Francisco sign shop New Bohemia to artists like Stephen Powers to tradesmen like Doc Guthrie who teaches a vocational class in downtown L.A., Levine and Macon capture the spirit and resurgence of a craft which nearly disappeared forever. A documentary also produced by Levine and Macon will be released next year.

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