Chronicle Books’ main office is in a San Francisco neighborhood filled with large brick warehouses left over from a more industrial time. We ourselves occupy one such building. One of the things we love about our neighborhood is the old hand-painted signs we still see on many of the buildings and which we sought to emulate.
The short film Up There, produced by Mekanism, reminded us of how amazing the old art of hand-painted signage can be. Up There is shot in New York City, and shows the craft and hard work of a team of painters as they work on a large-scale advertisement for Stella beer.
Here in San Francisco, a group of designers and sign writers working under the moniker of New Bohemia Signs is doing its part to keep the old art alive and spread beautiful typography around the city. They paint on windows, walls, wooden boards, cars… and always the old-fashioned way with brush in hand, dipped in paint. They have an impressive portfolio, a great blog, and their Flickr page is sheer eye candy to any type enthusiast.
A documentary film, called The Sign Painter, is currently in production about these fascinating craftsmen, designers, and artists. It looks like it’s going to be a great film, judging from the content on their website and the great images on their Flickr page, which shows many of the profiles in the film, like Jeff Canham and New Bohemia Signs.
Meanwhile, we’ll keep appreciating the hand-painted signs we see in our neighborhood, and will continue to use hand lettering in our books when right for the content. As much as we might love our computers, nothing can really replace the uniqueness and charm of a great hand-painted sign.