Some thoughts on SIGNWRITING

This is a beautifully shot documentary by Danny Cooke about signwriting artist David A Smith from Torquay. Please watch it.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/14985356

David A Smith – Sign Artist from Danny Cooke on Vimeo.

There are some interesting points to take note of here. Once our high streets were highly decorated. Signage companies were staffed by highly skilled craftsmen, often with their own styles and techniques who learnt their trade over long apprenticeships. There was pride in the workmanship by the signwriters. There was pride in appearance by the shops. Even ‘downmarket’ business premises alluded to being more aspirational from bakers to candlestick makers. Everything was done with care. Our high streets looked beautiful and cohesive. The shops looked as if they belonged to the buildings they inhabited. But most shops looked the similar. There were no big brands, you used your local shop which was often named after it’s owner. Like J Sainbury’s. Boots the Chemists. Marks & Spencer.

These days signwriters are rarely used, it is a dying art. Many of our high streets are cluttered by poorly designed, poorly made, cheap, gaudy signs made by companies with little if any design or craft training. Signs are often made to shout louder, to stand out rather than communicate your values. Signage companies will offer cheap plastic signs, shops wont invest in proper design or will rip out original shop fronts at great expense, but spend little on the actual sign (or often, wont invest in a sign at all).

Many of our high streets and local shops are now struggling. Our high streets are often uninviting places to be with depressing security shutters that make our urban environments look like no go places at night. This can lead to anti-social behavior and crime.

Isn’t it about time our high streets learnt from the past and became more inviting, beautiful, involving, exciting places to be?

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2 Responses to “Some thoughts on SIGNWRITING”


  1. 1 Margaret Cooper June 28, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    What a beautiful video, loved it

    • 2 Lee @ Designed By Good People June 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Lovely isn’t it to watch someone doing something they love. Both filmmaker and sign maker are brilliant at what they do. I’m a big fan of Davids, it’s such a shame he is so far away from Sydenham.


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