"It's the same way Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel. There's no easy way to do it"
June 1, 2012 4:03 AM   Subscribe

Up There (Vimeo). Ever seen those hand-painted high-rise advertisements, and wondered at the people behind them? This 12min documentary is a fascinating glimpse into the work of the painters, where apprentices spend years learning from their teachers before being allowed to paint.
posted by Petrot (9 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
stella blue?
posted by pixie at 5:00 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very Cool.

In 1990, I did some illustrations for billboards for Maker's Mark Bourbon. I did a 16" x 36" painting, and some guy at the sign company repainted it 35' wide. I was amazed how well they nailed it, it's a really amazing craft. I told the Creative Director I wanted to visit the sign company and watch them paint, unfortunately the campaign ended before I got a chance. I really wish I could have seen that process.
posted by Mcable at 5:33 AM on June 1, 2012

Work. Nice.
posted by FauxScot at 5:42 AM on June 1, 2012

Don't miss the timelapse shot of the entire sequence(!) of Stella paintings during the credits.
posted by lucidium at 6:18 AM on June 1, 2012

I've been collecting links about Chicago sign painters (a.k.a. walldogs) for a while intending to make an FPP about the trade, but I'd rather just tag along on this one. (This started by investigating the company that executed this sign in conjunction with this post.)

That sign was done by the Beverly Sign Company, an influential post-WWII Chicago sign painting company. While the company is now out of business, its influence lingers on, both in terms of the influence it had on its former employees as well as exhibits of surviving original sketches at the International Walldog Mural and Sign Art Museum in Pontiac, IL.

A name that pops up again and again as you read about Beverly Sign is former employee Bob Behounek, who's also the co-founder of Chicago Brushmasters, a charity project supporting Ronald McDonald House via production of "hundreds of hand painted Kustom Kulture Artforms", including "hot rod and race car body panels, bike tanks and fenders, saddle bags, Kustom Kulture Panel Art, and a vast array of motorsports and Chicago-themed projects." These are sold at an annual charity auction.

Though it's less common than it used to be, hand-painted signs are still alive here in Chicago, including the very specialized practice of gold leaf lettering, done in Chicago by Bruce Buckley and Robert Frese of Chicagold Signs. (PDF of a longer interview with Bruce Buckley from Signcraft magazine.)

Another documentary project covering walldogs is The Sign Painter Movie, slated for release sometime in 2012, along with an accompanying book from Princeton Architectural Press. Their production blog is filled with great photos of sign painters at work and interesting tidbits about the trade.
posted by orthicon halo at 6:28 AM on June 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

The company featured in this video was started by some good friends of mine. One of the perks of having friends who do this kind of work is getting awesome murals painted in the various offices I've worked out of over the years. They really can reproduce any source material at any size. My favorite was having this image done on the entire inside wall of our old office. Definitely an attention getter. I wish we could have taken it with us when we moved. We learned our lesson. The painting they did at out new place is on a giant canvas.

Also, the outside of their warehouse is a giant portrait of everyone who works there. It's pretty cool.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:30 AM on June 1, 2012

There will always be a need for this type of work because some advertisers will want to differentiate from the competition with higher quality art that can't be replicated with cheaper vinyl. But it probably won't be found much outside major markets.
posted by stbalbach at 10:51 AM on June 1, 2012

This is really cool. Gives me a whole new appreciation for Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program.
posted by MeiraV at 7:16 PM on June 1, 2012

Driving out of Chicago today, I noticed that there's a similar Stella Artois sign visible from the Eisenhower Expressway, with a tagline indicating it was executed by the Victor Sign Company. Couldn't find any photos of it online, unfortunately, so I checked to see if I could see it from Google Street View -- it's not the Stella Artois sign, but the Street View van did catch them in the middle of executing a different sign at the same location three years ago ...
posted by orthicon halo at 1:08 AM on June 3, 2012

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