Old signs become art. I want to make signs that turn into art. That quote comes from one of the many fascinating characters featured in the trailer for Faythe Levine and Sam Macon's documentary, Sign Painters.
The film shines a spotlight on the little-acknowledged but highly seen world of commercial sign painting. Its protagonists are the men and women whose brushstrokes have rendered a typographic landscape now fading from view since the emergence in 1982 of cheaper, faster vinyl signage. As with most things made with care and skill, those gorgeously hand-painted signs make their vinyl counterparts look as noxious and unexceptional as they really are. Like other unsung-hero docs of late such as Linotype (about the outmoded printing press that once revolutionized the newspaper business — and a truly wonderful, must-see film!) and Died Young Stayed Pretty (about the gig poster), Sign Painters focuses on the quality and the craftsmanship of its artisans. Unlike those subjects, hand-painted signmaking is experiencing a “renaissance,” say the filmmakers, who also made a book on the subject. (See the branded short film "Up There" by Mother New York for Stella Artois as further proof.) Looking forward to seeing this story writ large on the big screen.
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