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March 26, 2013

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One of the highlights for me in 2012 was the opportunity to spend a weekend at New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco learning the basics of brush-based sign painting with my pal Naz Hamid and new friends Tyler McGowan and Erin Ellis.

Sign painting is an attractive activity not just because I’m a type nut, but also because I’ve always enjoyed the satisfaction that comes with making physical things as much as digital ones made of ones and zeros. But let’s be clear — sign painting is not an easy pursuit — it can be physically challenging and incredibly difficult to do well, but it’s fairly low-tech and therefore approachable.

My workshop

The above is a photo from my workshop. I completed the sign on the bench this past weekend. It’s far from perfect, and while I could have cheated and used stripping tape to mask the various shapes of the chromatic letters, I did this one freehand to work on two essential skills — improving my muscle memory with a brush, and speed. Ultimately, the lesson for me coming out of that project is: chromatic type is really hard to paint. Unless perhaps you happen to be John Downer.

Next up — practice, more practice, and then more practice. After that I’ve got an ammo case I picked up at the Alameda Antiques Faire that needs sprucing up.

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