In the early 90s my dad’s shop got their first vinyl punch. They’d feed in a strip of vinyl tape and could cut out letters, one at a time. You could your own name – only one font available – on anything! Later they’d get a vinyl plotter that would make a big sticker out of any shapes that were designed on a computer. This is where I first cut my teeth in graphic design.
Before this time, signs and even logos on vehicles were painted by hand. I don’t know about you, but my palms get sweaty just thinking about setting a paintbrush to somebody’s brand new truck!
Vinyl signs were cheaper, faster, and more resilient to the elements, all of which helped to upend the entire traditional sign-painting industry. Looking back, that’s kinda too bad, don’t you think?
“It’s not perfect, it just looks good… That little wobble is gorgeous.” – 99% Invisible, Episode #74
I really love vinyl decals and the things that can be done with “stickers”. The bold colours and clean lines are a thing of beauty. But there’s something about the raw talent and imperfection that makes hand-painted signs unique and eye-catching.
It can probably be said of any art or beauty, it’s that little wobble – the hints of humanity – that make it beautiful.
The trailer for the documentary Sign Painters looks amazing! Check it out