Profile: Golden Sign Co.

I have been keeping up with the journey of Jordan and Kelly of

Golden Sign Co through Creative Sign Makers of America boards.

They are truly committed to learning the craft of traditional sign making.

Making the trek from Michigan to Los Angeles to learn properly from

Doc Guthrie at LA Trade Tech, they are really making it happen.

They were kind enough to take time out of their busy day’s to answer a few

questions about their experiences with Doc and educating potential customers.

1) How long have you been painting signs?
 
Collaboratively as the Golden Sign Co., for about a year. But prior to that, Kelly was making hand painted posters full time for a small deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
 
2) Who were your inspirations/mentors in learning the craft?
 
We have both always loved traveling through small town America, taking the back roads and seeing the people and places that really make our country great. It’s fun to experience the subtle nuances that distinguish each part of the country from the next, and signage is a big part of what shapes the landscape. Picking up the Sign Painters book helped us identify sign painting as a trade and opened our minds to the possibility of contributing to the landscape in our own neighborhood, and from there we started to reach out to anybody who would give us the time. Eventually, we found the Creative Sign Makers of America boards where we could ask any questions we were getting caught up on, and get 10 different thoughtful answers from journeymen sign painters from all over the country. The wealth of knowledge, experience, and talent shared on that board is astounding.  Everybody on there is an inspiration and a mentor to us.
 
3) Advice for those wishing to learn the craft? 
 
If your experience is anything like ours, the fascination and pursuit of knowledge will take on a life of its own. Start digging in and devouring every bit of information you can find. There are some great old books that you can read online for free that have tons of valuable insight into letter forms and brush control that still hold true. Those things never change. And for those who are truly committed to learning it inside and out, every tool and technique, the Sign Graphics program at LATTC is the last remaining trade school in the country with a full blown hand lettering program.
If you can make the move, it takes a lot of the headaches and guesswork out of trying to find out and then teach this mountain of information to yourself.
 
4) What made you decide to get up and move to California? 
 
We wanted to get killer tans and surf, duh! No, what really happened was we were both at low points in our jobs back home, and being wanderers at heart, a change was naturally a-brewin’.
One particularly shitty day at work, I placed a call to Doc Guthrie and left a message asking for some information on the class. To my surprise, he called me back the next day and we talked about the the curriculum taught over the two years, the current state and resurgence of sign painting, and about our ability to make the commitment and the move. Soon as I hung up the phone, I knew exactly what we had to do– get tan and learn to surf! 

5) How do you approach potential clients about investing in a hand painted sign?
 
The most important thing we’ve learned so far is that you have to educate your customer. Many business owners either completely overlook the importance of their signage or aren’t aware that there’s an alternative to the vinyl shops that are on every street corner nowadays. Explaining the reasons behind your choice of materials, design decisions, and the effectiveness and durability of your sign over the cheaper sign helps convince them it’s worth your price. You’re talking to business people, so you have to be a business person yourself. Look professional, speak with confidence, and know your product inside and out. Give them options and know when to say, “No.” 
 
6) Has LATTC changed the way you think about sign painting? How? Why?
 
Going off the last answer, it has really opened up our eyes on how to handle the business side of sign painting. Doc owned and operated his shop for almost 40 years, so he brings that knowledge and those experiences to class every day. It pretty much took our existing business model and turned it on its head. Pricing, book keeping, promotional materials, it’s all evolving as we go to be as streamlined and effective as it can be.
 
As far as actually painting a sign goes… when we started out on our own about a year ago, we pretty much picked up right in the middle of things. Using 1Shot and 20 different brushes, trying to make fanciful signs with drop shadows and outlines and stunt alphabets and so on. When we got to Trade Tech, we realized we knew very little about the basic fundamental building blocks of the four main alphabets. Letter spacing, word spacing, and letterforms. In the first semester of Sign Graphics, you don’t even open a can of 1Shot. You spend about 7 weeks just drawing and then painting the gothic alphabet with tempera paint. Next you move on to draw and paint roman, formal script, and finally downstroke casual. Knowing the rules and tricks associated with these four basic alphabets sets you up right to paint effective signs.
 
 7) What is the best way that you have found to get your name out there to get exposure
and to get more work? 
 
Hustle. Constantly be on the lookout for potential customers. Make business cards and have them on you at all times. Make flyers and go door to door. Have a website and update it often. Build a portfolio, and work hard. If you want it to be your job, make it your job. 
 
8) Name one thing that you have learned so far at LATTC that has helped you in your brush skills?
 
Oh man, everything! All the basics. Working eye level and directly in front of your work. Pulling strokes with your shoulder, not your hand. How pallet of the brush to get a chiseled tip. And maybe most importantly, holding the brush in a way that you can twist through the curved strokes. Game changer right there.
 
9) Name one thing you like about LA.
 
The traffic. 
 
10) A link to your website?
 
Kelly Painting

Kelly Painting

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