This is a beautifully shot documentary by Danny Cooke about signwriting artist David A Smith from Torquay (click on link below, it’s well worth it):
It’s great that people like David continue using and refining age old techniques. Signwriters were highly skilled craftsmen, often with their own styles and techniques who learnt their trade through 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. High streets looked beautiful and cohesive. The shops looked as if they belonged to the buildings they inhabited. There were no big brands, you used your local shop which was often named after it’s owner. Like J Sainbury, Boots the Chemists, Marks and 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, often 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 a businesses values. High streets are not considered as a whole. Original shop fronts are ripped out at great and roller shutters are installed which make high streets look like no-go areas at night.
Many of our high streets and local shops are now struggling. High streets are often uninviting places to be. This can lead to anti-social behavior and crime.
We believe that design is important. We believe that design can make a difference. It doesn’t matter if you are a large company or a small one. Isn’t it about time we celebrated design and craft? We believe it is.
Signwriters like David A Smith really believe in what they do.
You do better work when you believe in what you do.