How collaborative is your role?
Obviously, you want to keep your clients for yourself, but if I need to get someone else in to help, I will. We’ve got a WhatsApp group called Alphabetics Anonymous, which is like a support group for sign painters. If you need an extra pair of hands, you can put it on the WhatsApp group and someone will help out. There’s a real community, and people are quite friendly – probably because there’s enough work, so they don’t mind passing it around.
What tools do you use most for your work?
Some people can be a bit snobby about sign painting; there’s this real pride in saying, ‘I do it all by hand.’ But if a client wants both hand-painted stuff and vinyl, why not be able to do both?
There’s a few different ways of doing it. You can draw a design, print it up on acetate, project it onto the wall, trace it onto wrapping paper, and then use the pounce, (or pounce-wheel), running it over the design perforates the paper, and then use a chalk pad. You put your design on the wall where you want it, bang the chalk pad through, take the paper off and you’ve got a dotted line. A lot of these methods are hundreds of years old; things haven’t changed much at all.
I don’t want to limit myself to just hand painted stuff, so obviously, if clients request vinyl, I’ve got to prep that on the computer. Sometimes we’ll use vinyl stencils and then finish it off with a hand-painted touch.