Signs of life

Some things in life appear to be of trivial importance. You casually walk past them without ­paying attention. A handpainted sign on the storefront of a Boston ­tattoo shop seems to be that kind of thing. It simply reads, “­Greater ­Boston’s first and finest.” Who would have guessed that sign painter Josh Luke painted it by hand? Most signs ­nowadays come from large-scale digital ­printers or vinyl lettering. Not too long ago, before the 1980s, all ­laundromats, nail salons, car shops and restaurants still had handpainted signs.

Many of the sign painters of those times are retired, but there is renewed enthusiasm for hand lettering. Young sign painters like Luke are taking up the craft again. This is what documentary makers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon are writing and showing in the book and documentary called Sign Painters, a tribute to these craftspeople. What makes a sign good? “We’ve learned that a great sign can be so simple that an average person wouldn’t notice anything special about it,” Levine says. | Elleke Bal

 

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Signs of life

Some things in life appear to be of trivial importance. You casually walk past them without ­paying attention. A handpainted sign on the storefront of a Boston ­tattoo shop seems to be that kind of thing. It simply reads, “­Greater ­Boston’s first and finest.” Who would have guessed that sign painter Josh Luke painted it by hand? Most signs ­nowadays come from large-scale digital ­printers or vinyl lettering. Not too long ago, before the 1980s, all ­laundromats, nail salons, car shops and restaurants still had handpainted signs.

Many of the sign painters of those times are retired, but there is renewed enthusiasm for hand lettering. Young sign painters like Luke are taking up the craft again. This is what documentary makers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon are writing and showing in the book and documentary called Sign Painters, a tribute to these craftspeople. What makes a sign good? “We’ve learned that a great sign can be so simple that an average person wouldn’t notice anything special about it,” Levine says. | Elleke Bal

 

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