PVS presents Sign Painters Art Show

We were stoked to finally have a Sign Painters art show

in Orange County CA. Curated by Colt Bowden at

the Marcas Gallery in downtown Santa Ana.

The turnout was great and the gallery has been open to

the public since December 6th. Signs were submitted

from all over showcasing different styles and colors.

Over the last month Brady Martinson has been the

resident sign painter in the gallery and has kept the doors

open to the public and the response has been really positive.

Colt was kind enough to answer a few questions about the show

and we thank him for all of his hard work.


I think its safe to say that your pretty well established and known in the sign painting
community. You seem to be constantly busy and have your hands in multiple projects
such as the sign painter zines and your PVS projects. Not to mention your new addition to
your family your son Fox. How do you make time for all of this?

Good question!​ I suppose I try to put priorities on the big things first and all the small stuff
gets sorted out on it’s own.

When do you sleep?

Usually I keep a pretty good schedule. Go to bed between 10-11 pm and wake up
between 6-7 am.

How was it working with the Marcas Gallery?

The Marcas Gallery is a great gallery with a lot of class. Dana the gallery owner is
a very wise man when it comes to putting an art show together. He contacted me
before he even opened the gallery with the idea of putting this show together,
and things fell into place as the time came for the show to happen. ​

Was it difficult to acquire submissions for the art show? What was the hardest part?

​It was not too difficult to acquire submissions, though a few of our friends got too tied up with real life sign painting jobs at the end of the year and sadly weren’t able to submit. Thankfully, we already had half the show from the Icy Caps show that I had curated, so there was a good balance of artwork and we were able to fill the walls of the gallery quite nicely all in all. It was stressful the week or two before the show while we were still receiving pieces but hadn’t hung them all. That’s the hardest part, having a bunch of art/signs in packages and not really knowing how it will all piece together. ​The pieces are so nice and delicate that you can’t just throw them around the gallery floor to see how they will look, you have to gently and carefully move each piece.

What were your favorite pieces that were submitted in the show and why?

I loved the pieces by Remedios Rapoport. They were finely crafted with the highest of technical detail, as well as thoughtfully original in design, color and content. She is an old school sign painter who has been in the game for the last 30 years and even helped to revive the trade in Argentina, where she learned from master sign painters who specialized in the fileteado porteño sign painting style, along side Alfredo Genovese, who has since written several books on the style.

How do you think the public received the show?

Very well!

​Have you received any inquiry’s on how to learn sign painting or apprenticeships since the opening of the Sign Painters Art Show?

​I have not received any inquiries to personally accept anyone as an apprentice, and I am hardly qualified to be a master teacher to someone in the trade. Though I have had a few groups of artists and typography enthusiasts ask for instruction within the skill of brush lettering.​

What are your thoughts on doing sign painting workshops? Is it something that you support or is it potentially training your competition?

I think sign painting workshops can be a good thing. Though I do not think that taking a single workshop would qualify someone to venture out into the trade.. That being said, there is far to much condemnation concerning teaching people and giving them a hands on experience in sign painting. The trade is only dying in the aspects of the manufactures of sign painting materials giving up on the general publics need for such things. If there were to be a high demand for better products and learning experiences and training in sign painting, we would see the demand for high quality hand painted signage increase dramatically within the commercial art and graphics world that is currently run by vinyl wrapping idiots who left their souls at the door when they cashed in for the latest graphtec plotter 30 years ago. ​Sorry to rant.. but I feel that the corn field whispers speaking to Kevin Costner said it perfectly “If you build it, they will come.”

I remember you mentioning talking with Ed Templeton about painting and how its ok if lines are wavy or don’t appear to be perfect. Is that something that you keep in mind when painting a sign? If so, how does your client feel about the slight imperfections?

​I feel that in art, that is a good momento to live by. But in commercial art, and professional sign painting, it is better to strive for perfection and work hard to build a skill level that can paint a straight line. Slight imperfections will always exist within hand painted signs, we have blood pulsing through our veins, not electric diodes! You can always paint a little better if you strive to.

Other than painting signs, you also do letterpress zines and art shows such as “Icy Caps” and soon “Spicy Caps” that bring people together and help share the beauty of hand painted signs to the community. Your not strictly doing one or the other but have your hand in many creative avenues. Do you have an ultimate goal in mind as far as your career is concerned?

​Ultimately, my goal is to help build the community around me in whatever I do, whether it’s sign painting, skate boarding, illustrating or raising a family. Sharing the love and passion for whatever interests me and seeing it set off the spark within another is gratifying enough. Being able to make a living and provide for my family is an added bonus, because of all the other jobs I’ve tried along the way, I always come back to being creative with my hands and my mind. It’s fulfillment to my soul, and that makes for a happy life.

​Thanks for this interview James!

– Colt
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