Sign Painters film

Last year we ran an extract from the excellent Sign Painters book in the magazine, and now the accompanying documentary film is about to get its first preview in the US. If the trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to be a lovely piece of work

Last year we ran an extract from the excellent Sign Painters book in the magazine, and now the accompanying documentary film is about to get its first preview in the US. If the trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to be a lovely piece of work…

Since 2010, Faythe Levine and Sam Macon’s project has been to document the work of artists who have put brush and paint to storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards, and even street signs across America, but who have seen their skilled trade “overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper,” say the filmmakers.

“The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape,” they continue. “Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade.”

Sign Painters is, say Levine and Macon, the first anecdotal history of the craft and features interview with two dozen sign painters working throughout the US, from the new vanguard working solo to the collaborative shops New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco and Colossal Media’s Sky High Murals in New York.

Two screenings in the US have been confirmed so far. They are: March 30 at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC. More info here; and June 7 and 8 at the Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway, Commercial Drive, Vancouver, Canada.

As for the UK, Levine recommends keeping an eye on the Sign Painters blog, below, and their Twitter feed at @signpainterdoc. We will also post news on CR blog on any dates as they are announced. For now, enjoy the trailer above.

The Sign Painters book was published by Princeton Architectural Press in November 2012 features a foreword by legendary artist (and former sign painter) Ed Ruscha. More at

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The March issue of CR magazine celebrates 150 years of the London Underground. In it we introduce a new book by Mark Ovenden, which is the first study of all aspects of the tube’s design evolution; we ask Harry Beck authority, Ken Garland, what he makes of a new tube map concept by Mark Noad; we investigate the enduring appeal of Edward Johnston’s eponymous typeface; Michael Evamy reports on the design story of world-famous roundel; we look at the London Transport Museum’s new exhibition of 150 key posters from its archive; we explore the rich history of platform art, and also the Underground’s communications and advertising, past and present. Plus, we talk to London Transport Museum’s head of trading about TfL’s approach to brand licensing and merchandising. In Crit, Rick Poynor reviews Branding Terror, a book about terrorist logos, while Paul Belford looks at how a 1980 ad managed to do away with everything bar a product demo. Finally, Daniel Benneworth-Grey reflects on the merits on working home alone. Buy your copy here.

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