Christmas is just three days away, and we hope you all have a very merry one! A big thank-you to sign-painter Suzanne Bircher for painting & photographing this little sequence for today’s post.
Suzanne has been hand-lettering for many years, first in Charlotte and Beaufort, North Carolina, and later in Moorehead City. Though now retired and living the the country town of Dunn, she spends much of her time mentoring the next generation of sign-painting enthusiasts. Sometimes this is face-to-face, sometimes via email and the internet – Facebook, Flickr and her own website, She Paints Signs.
I learned to paint signs from a Cuban guy that came to the USA playing minor league baseball. He saw a sign painter in a ball park and decided that was what he wanted to learn to do. He had a successful shop in Charlotte. There was a guy from Ecuador working there too. I learned a lot of swear words in Spanish!
I am good at lettering, but there are many other sign painters that are more interesting than me. I keep my hand in at lettering because I enjoy it and I don’t want to lose the skill. I rarely get any paying sign lettering jobs.
The revival of sign painters is mostly taking place in big cities. I live in a rural farm community. I try to keep up with news about sign painters and sign painting with my computer. I hope that The Sign Painter Movie will have a showing within a couple hours drive so I can go see it.
I was taught to vary the fonts and sizes of the letters in a sign. The most important part of the sign/message will be the larger or bolder lettering.
You need a big easel and some wide white paper, sometimes called butcher paper, for your practicing if you want to learn to paint signs. You use charcoal to draw light lines and layouts. After the paint dries you can wipe it off.
I get inquiries quite often through my Hand Painted Signs Facebook page, as well as thru my website, from young people wanting to learn to paint signs. I’ve had inquiries from as far away as Mexico, Germany, and China, as well as scattered through the USA. It is exciting that there is a renewal of interest in this great trade skill. New blood will help keep sign painting from becoming obsolete!
So, if you’re ever in the vicinity of Dunn, North Carolina, take some time to look up Suzanne – have a cup of coffee and paint a few strokes on butcher paper!
Most importantly, ‘Have a Very Merry Christmas’!