If you are visiting Art Dog, odds are you are involved in the art supply industry in one way or another. Sign-painting has made a comeback and, as art supply folks, we need to tune in! How can you tap into the sign-painting comeback in a way that a) moves product that you have b) strengthens your relationships with your community and c) grows new business opportunities? After a recent interview with sign-painter Christian Shaknaitis, who has been in the industry for ten years, we brainstormed ways retailers can connect with sign-painters to the benefit of all parties.
Merchandise A Go-To Supply Kit
Stage a freshly-painted sign or a WIP (work in progress) made by a staff member with an example of a Sign-Painting Kit next to it:
- 1 Shot Lettering Enamel Paint
- Various brushes
- Mineral spirits
- Gold leafing starter kit
- Lettering templates and popular patterns
- Pounce dust (chalk)
- Various cups and containers
- And a portable art box to house it all!
Set Up A Focused Try-It Table
While Christian had a go-to list of essential sign-painting supplies, he emphasized that everyone is different, especially when it comes to paint and brushes. People ask him what kind of brush he used for a specific kind of lettering… but when they try to replicate it, they may hate how it feels! The way a brush fits in your hand can be as personal as your taste buds reacting to a new food. A try-it table featuring enamel paints, various brushes, templates or examples and some primed wood panels can go a long way in encouraging curious hand-letterers, crafters, students and artists to dabble in sign painting.
Hire a Sign Painter to (re)Do Your Signage
Take stock of the way your store looks to the passersby. Maybe your signage needs refreshing. Maybe you need to make a big impression in a changing city or town; maybe you haven’t had time or resources to put into your storefront for some time. Here’s why you may want to focus on a refresh with beautiful hand-painted signage:
-Shows you support and value the arts and offer something unique
-Connects you to a savvy artist in the community; a local sign-painter is a valuable resource, whether as a partner, potential instructor or ambassador for your store
-If you form a relationship, a work trade (or arrangement for supplies) might be an option
Host a Lettering Club
Another way to support sign-painting is to host a lettering club. Sign-painting is just a technical step away from the enduring trend of hand-lettering; practicing different fonts and styles is a huge part of a sign-painter’s practice. Christian, along with Daniel Gurwin, Andrew Paul and Jeff Lang founded the Pittsburgh Lettering Club that has gained steady attendance over the years.
“We started getting together and meeting and working on projects to better our skills. We have a different theme each time: casual lettering, script lettering, etc. We put out the supplies for people to use, and we aren’t necessarily teaching, we are sharing. From people who are designers to people who have never picked up a paintbrush; we started to get some feedback and put it out on social media. Other people wanted to join and it started to grow.”
One issue independent groups like this run into is supplies; this is where you come in. Use www.MeetUp.com or search Facebook or Instagram to find local groups who might need a home for their meetups. If you have a classroom space, this is an opportunity to support the hand-lettering, calligraphy and sign-painting community, all in one. Providing space in conjunction with discounted items like enamel paint, brushes and primed panels is a great way to engage with people ready to create art!