During much of the 19th and 20th century the art of sign painting was a very common practice. Most businesses and storefront had customized signs and advertisements that were hand painted by these talented artisans. Unfortunately today this art form is few and far between as a result of modern technology and business owners opting to use computer generated signage.
Sign painting is a freehand act using specialized brushes (quills, flats, and liners) to create lettering, words, and symbols. It is nothing short of a fine art and requires an immense amount of skill, practice and especially, patience. These artists are required to have knowledge of a variety of fonts, pattern making, prepping boards, mixing paint, using shadows, outlines, highlights, borders, as well as centering, balancing, and correct kerning and leading of letters.
Historically, as many crafts, the practice is passed down from masters to student through apprenticeships. Mastering the dexterity of painting with lettering brushes is the core skill of the learning process. Sign painting is rarely offered in schools anymore, and it's difficult to get training due to lack of demand. Fortunately, there are some sign painters that are still passionate about the work and will offer to share knowledge and skill to those interested.
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