Profile: Rick Janzen of Streamline Studios
Rick Janzen, owner of Streamline Studios in Alberta, Canada has established himself as a hybrid sign painter of sorts. Keeping traditional sign making alive, he has successfully merged the craft into a place with the film industry and pioneered antiquing and distressed techniques that serve as an inspiration to other sign artists around the world. His work has been seen in films like Brokeback Mountain, The Assassination of Jesse James, In Cold Blood and Open Range in addition to train restorations and a wide variety of commercial work. Streamline Studios has also recently branched into film work and is currently working on a documentary called “Faded Paint… The Vanishing Sign Painter.”
We asked Rick our typical questions, here’s what he said:
TSM- How long have you been painting signs?
RJ- I began my career in the sign industry at the age of 18. When I started, everything was still done by hand, brush skills and layout were something to be mastered. I remember being given a Letraset book and told to learn three basic font styles (serif / san serif and a script), and to forget the rest until I mastered the basics. , I’ve been involved in the Motion Picture industry since 1987, as both a sign painter and scenic artist, working on numerous feature films and television show. Hand lettering is still used in the film industry, but is also falling victim to computers and digital printing. I still enjoy painting signs as much as the day I started.
TSM- Who were your inspirations/mentors in learning the craft?
RJ- I originally wanted to work in advertising as an Illustrator, but it was a tough market to break into. At a meeting with an Art Director from one of the local agencies, he suggested that I should look into painting signs and billboards. He gave me some names and numbers of companies they sent design work to. Over the next few years, I had the good fortune to work with some wonderful sign painters who hooked me on a life-long passion.
TSM- Advice for those wishing to learn the craft?
RJ- My advice to anyone wanting to get into hand lettering is to “just start painting.” Get yourself some books on sign painting and start collecting reference photos of the type of work you want to do. The key to learning is practice…practice…practice. It doesn’t happen overnight, but nothing worthwhile ever does. The demand for hand lettering may never be what it was, but I believe there will always be a market for those that show a passion for the craft. If you do it, and do it well, they will come.
TSM- Where can we check out more about you and your work?