Sign & Digital Graphics

March '18

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86 • March 2018 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S MASTER'S TOUCH The Joy of Technical Sign Murals Four projects that test a sign maker's skills Steven Vigeant owns Berkeley Signs, a commercial sign company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. Visit his Web site at or contact him at B Y S T E V E N V I G E A N T Looking for Trouble believe in their project. Second: The final product has to stand alone as "perfect." The resulting masterpiece has to look "just right" without any caveats or excuses that imply that a differ- ent artisan with a different skill-set should have been chosen for the project. Third but not least: Lobby, plead, whine and educate the designer so that they can have some mercy and begin to understand that there are limits to what can be done by any analog artist. Silk Thread Mural The wavy lines represent silk threads that are created via a bio-tech breakthrough that involves manufacturing real silk threads without the worms! There were four of these walls that added up to painting thousands of linear feet of very exact thin lines. The designer specified that they had to be done with great consistency and grace using a matte PMS color. Sound fun? It would have been nice to do them in 1Shot oil enamel, perhaps with a flattener, but that would have affected the opacity and flow of the paint and likely dripped a lot and required two coats. I first pleaded to change the line width from 3/16th" to something slightly exceeding 1/4" that obviously could still present quite a challenge. I was able to use flat latex applied with an old ¼" fitch that was so stiff from previous work so that it was more like using a calligraphy pen than a paintbrush. In this way I could press down onto the wall with a consistent thick line stroke that left a tight mark without dripping. I felt ok for a few thousand feet until I heard that the designer had issues with occasionally spotty opacity, wobbles here and there and even paint ridges that were forming with the thick paint line. Yikes! The pressure could really start to build if I wasn't able to plead my case for some allowance for the nature of hand work, while also making some adjustments that helped me approach the designer's standard. I was able to do a bit of double coating, some line-adjusting via "back cutting" with background color and lastly I was able to cut down some paint ridges with a razor blade. It was a character- building challenge. If I had to do it again I would have taken more time researching paint mixtures, flow additives and different compatible brushes to see what could have made the work a bit cleaner. T his month I'll focus on four extremely challenging proj- ects that were each conceived by a graphic designer who expected the final product to match their digital mock-up exactly. I'd like to show how it is possible to take on jobs like these that I call Technical Sign Murals. In each case, there was an implied leap of faith that a "sign painter" would be able to figure out how to accomplish the client's next to impossible design goals. The problem was that none of them fall neatly within the comfort zones of graphic design print artists, tradi- tional paint muralists or your average non-painting sign shop. If I were truly "looking for trouble," these projects could be considered a grand opportunity. These were tough projects. One should think twice about how to proceed if they think this is what they want to do for a living. I learned a few things in the process: First: The artist/ sign painter, etc., has to get along with the designer and really Pounce pattern for intersections reveals both sides of the line. The long singular lines have just one side. Silk Worm Mural

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