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Trompe l' oeil sign writing

Sign writing

Sign writing is dying. Mostly people have computers now and a vast array of (unused) fonts. It’s so much easier to go to the print shop and say I want a sign made up saying “El Secreto de la Abuela” or whatever and have it run off on sticky plastic.

Granted the sticky plastic has come a long way, it now incorporates UV filters and there are special varnishes that help with longevity too. But it has killed the sign writing art form. Could plastic get the anchor and shadows on this yellow wall?

I happen to live in Spain in an area that is blistering hot in the summer. And blistering is what happens sooner rather than later to the plastic letters. The sun fades various some colours more rapidly than others and eventually the sign starts to peel and fall away from its surface leaving a rather tacky unprofessional look to the sign. Granted certain paint pigments fade too, but they seem to have more durability than the inks used in the plastic film and of course the letters don’t peel and flake off.

It is often a false economy too, when the sign has to be re-applied within a few years. There is a lot work involved in removing the old letters and cleaning the surface prior to the re-application of new transfer letters. With paint it’s far more straight forward and generally lasts longer.

Some 20+ years on and The Golden Anchor still exists! Sure the pub has been repainted but they left the sign writing. It’s a bit of a shame the walls have been painted a pale beige/pink because the shadow colour was calculated for a yellow ground and doesn’t really work that well on the beige/pink.

There are more examples of sign writing on this page and all done with paint.