Monday, December 13, 2010

"...left to the mercy of sunshine, soot, and shower"

This proclamation is about the poster movement in London in the 1890's but I think it's completely comparable to the PVS movement of the 2010's.

"Advertisement is an absolute necessity of modern life, and if it can be made beautiful as well as obvious, so much the better for the makers of soap and the public who are likely to wash.
The popular idea of a picture is something told in oil or writ in water to be hung on a room’s wall or in a picture gallery to perplex an artless public. No one expects it to serve a useful purpose or take a part in everyday existence. Our modern painter has merely to give a picture a good name and hang it.
Now the poster first of all justified its existence on the grounds of utility, and should it further aspire to beauty of line and colour, may not our hoardings claim kinship with the galleries, and the designers of affiches pose proudly in the public eye...?
Still there is a general feeling that the artist who puts his art into the poster is déclassé—on the streets—and consequently of light character. The critics can discover no brush work to prate of, the painter looks askance upon a thing that achieves publicity without a frame, and beauty without modelling, and the public find it hard to take seriously a poor printed thing left to the mercy of sunshine, soot, and shower, like any old fresco over an Italian church door..." -Aubrey Beardsley, 1894

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Pre-Vinylites: Notes on a Manifesto

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of young, London artists in the mid 1800's who were tired of the proliferation of art made by imitation and repetition and void of emotional connection. They established a fellowship and detailed their ambitions in a manifesto which included such intentions as:
  • to have genuine ideas to express;
  • to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
  • to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote;
  • and, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues
They referred to themselves as "Pre-Raphaelites" because they believed that the tradition that resulted from the imitation of Raphael's classical model was a corruption to art, making it devoid it of emotion and humanity.
Our intention for a "Pre-Vinylite Society" proposes to subvert the recent convention of tasteless signage as a digression from both time honored design and the traditional hand painted signs. We believe that sign craft, if done with care and passion, can aestheticize our urban landscape. This ideal is not limited to the execution of hand painted signs alone, what ever the medium, if done with care, tact, and well executed design, can positively affect the surrounding landscape. These are just some preliminary thoughts on what we hope will become, itself, a manifesto. Please comment with any ideas that you may have about the resurgence of hand painted signs and let's make this "society" a reality!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moving Along

The Chameleon sign is completed and installed and receiving rave reviews! Josh is now working on a sandwich board for Good Faith Tattoo. He finished their glass door last week. Here's what it looks like:
If you want to see more photos of the sign-making and installation process , check out Best Dressed Signs' Facebook page!

Next up is a sign for Primitive Traditions Body Piercing (in the same building as Good Faith) and then hopefully some signs for Dame, a really cool vintage store in Jamaica Plain, if they accept the bid. So far, so good.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Rant by Meredith and then some Hot Italian Beef!

Tomorrow is the big day! Best Dressed Signs is installing our first sign in Boston! The installation is scheduled to start at 9:00am and Josh is putting the finishing touches on the sign at this moment!

And now, what I think are some important implications:
I think it's imperative that signage, as the most basic form of marketing, should not only be conducive to generating business for the company that it advertises, but should also contribute to the beautification of a space. It is, after all, or should be, the most accessible art that we see every day. Boston spent billions of dollars on the Big Dig in an effort to (among other things, of course) beautify the city, with the expansion of parks and greenways. Why not extend that aesthetic progress to the the city's signs? I think this Chameleon sign is going to be the first step towards changing the way people think about their urban environment here in Boston. I hope so, anyway.
Okay, enough of that. Click on this video to see Josh in action, working on the last sign that he painted for New Bohemia in San Francisco. And check in again on Sunday, when I'll be posting all about our adventures in installation. It will certainly be the first time I've ever done it. Wish us luck!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Work in Progress. Still.

The Chameleon signs are in the works! I forgot that they're getting two signs and they're HUGE so it's taking a little longer than first anticipated (besides the fact that Josh obsessed over the precise geometry of the 3-D and tacked strings to the wall, making me angle them just so while he stood across the room contemplating with his hand on his beard). But they're coming out awesome and will be worth the wait!

He also just finished a sign for the 90th anniversary of a New York company called WWD, a fashion news website. The woman had originally contacted New Bohemia and they referred her to Best Dressed Signs since we're on the east coast. Thanks New Bo!

Here's the sign for them:
Next up: Good Faith Tattoo on Comm Ave near BU. They're getting their glass door and some sandwich boards done. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gettin' Goin'

This is the finalized sketch for Chameleon Tattoo. We've been given the go-ahead and Josh has started on the pattern. Here's a picture of him tracing the projected pattern:
Today he reserved another ZipCar and picked up the wood which the physical sign will be painted on. Tomorrow will begin "Covert Mission #1: rolling out the background paint in the basement". We'll see how it goes. Apparently, my cousin has offered to share part of his studio space so if things don't work out here, Josh at least has another option.
At this very moment, Josh is working on some sketches for Good Faith Tattoo. He is scheduled to start their window on Monday the 25th. After that, he'll start on some sandwich boards for them.
The Chameleon sign is scheduled to be installed by the end of next week and we'll be sure to post some pictures of the final product (including also, most likely, some more shots of Josh in mid-painting action). Stay tuned! This is just the beginning for Best Dressed Signs!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Open for Business!

This is the first sketch for Chameleon Tattoo and Body Piercing in the Garage in Harvard Sq. Josh submitted it to them and they LOVED it! It's obviously not finished, he's gonna tweak it a little bit, make it curve the other way so that "Tattoo" is to the left of "Body Piercing" but the idea is pretty much a go!
We're getting going on the equipment side of things. The Electro Pounce (a device that perforates the pattern so that a chalk outline can be traced onto the surface of the sign) arrived at our door today. We signed up for ZipCar so Josh can go and run errands like picking up the wood and paint and whatnot. He needs a saw and sawhorses that fold so that he can covertly sneak them into the basement of our apartment building to cut wood and roll out background paint. I think it'll go unnoticed, for a while at least.
The next step is advertising. The business card is finished and at the printers. Here's a preview (the real one has a phone number too):
The Website will be coming soon so keep an eye out! We'll update you here when it's up and running. Or at least up. Thanks for reading! And thanks for being Facebook fans, we're reaching 100!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Dressed Signs' First Bid in Boston!

Some nice gold leaf on Newbury St. Boston, MA

Today we visited our first potential customer in Boston at the Chameleon Tattoo and Piercing Shop in the Garage in Harvard Sq. They are one of the first tattoo shops in Boston, as tattooing was not legal in Massachusetts until 2001! (Crazy, I know. We all had to go and get shitty New Hampshire tattoos by curmudgeonly old Vietnam vets with American flag parachute pants back in my day! Mine are all covered up by now.)
The guys at Chameleon were PSYCHED! Josh showed up all professional with a Bid Inquiry Sheet adapted from one from New Bohemia. The old shop is really helping us out here in Boston. Couldn't do it without 'em!
On our way to Harvard Sq today, we also stopped by Stingray Tattoo on Harvard Ave in Allston to inquire about their need for signs and not only do they want and need some, but the owner, Scott, is an old friend of my sister's who I first met when I was 14! Small world!
Big day for Best Dressed Signs! Boston is the perfect venue for this burgeoning business!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to Real Life=Back to a SIGN blog!

Today we're moving into our new apartment and school starts next week for me, which means it's back to real life! Josh is starting to get Best Dressed Signs out there on the world wide web, so we have a new Facebook page. Become a fan!
We also got a new computer (!!!) so we can easily upload photos. Check out the pictures of cool signs we saw all across the country on Josh's new Best Dressed Signs flickr account. There's a variety of signs that we liked, from gold leafed, hand painted, neon, to ghost signs from yesteryear.
Stay tuned to this blog as it will chronicle Josh's transition from a laid back New Bohemian to a bad-ass Boston Best Dressed Sign Painter!

Friday, August 27, 2010

We made it to Boston!

So I let the blog go: sorry.
It was getting too stressful trying to upload pictures and a find places with wi-fi, etc. But we made it! And now I have use of my brother's fancy new computer so the pictures are getting uploaded to Facebook. You can view the three albums that comprise the trip! The first one documents our trip from our first stop in Ojai, CA through a drunken night in Vegas. The second one has the pictures from the Hoover Dam through Nashville, which includes the Grand Canyon, Sedona, AZ, Austin, TX, New Orleans, Graceland, and a few scenic views in between. The third one shows our adventures at the Jellystone Campground in Mammoth Caves, KY to Chesterton<>
Josh took this video at the Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar in Nashville, TN. He also took a LOT of cool sign photos so we'll compile those all together and make a blog that's actually about signs, coming soon. That's it for our travels for a while. Now it's back to real life, if a totally different one than what we've been used to. Stay tuned for the cross country sign blog though.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Orleans!!!

It's official. This computer will not allow me to upload photos without a WHOLE lot of time and trouble, so you'll all have to just come over for the slide show. ;)
So we're in New Orleans in a Holiday Inn just off Bourbon St: A HUGE step up from the Motel 6 in Lafayette, LA where we stayed last night. I think someone may have been murdered in our room at some point in the past. What I do know has not happened there is any cleaning of the toilet recently. We were planning on staying at a KOA, as we had a fantastic experience at one in Kerrville, TX just before Austin, but it was TOO HOT and we were too tired so we sprung for a crappy motel.
Speaking of Austin: WOW. When we arrived it was about 100 degrees and nothing was open on 6th St so we (for some reason) decided to walk up to the capital. Pretty. And pretty boring, so we bar hopped, ending up at Lovejoy's where we met a very friendly local named Kevin who told us about Barton Springs, a public pool fed by natural spring water. What an oasis! We cooled off, went to a rockabilly club on South Congress and slept (barely) in oppressive heat in the van before we promptly drove back to Barton Springs in the am, ate a snow cone and headed to Lousiana.
We arrived in New Orleans around 5:00 this evening and walked around Bourbon St drinking extremely touristy Hand Grenades and ducking into bars to pee. We decided to walk to Jackson Sq to check out some historical buildings and on the way back to the hotel we ran into my old friend from the beginning days of Whole Foods (2002), Josh. What a CRAZY coincidence! I'm still blown away! He's moving his friend, Nija, to Chicago and it looks like we'll be there around the same time too! What a small world! Okay, so I'm pretty drunk on 2 hand grenades and a few Abitas (a local brew) so I'll end this rant now. More to come!
I got SOME of our photos up on Facebook, from Ojai through Vegas. You can see them here if you have a Facebook account.

Monday, August 9, 2010

El Paso, TX

Apparently you're allowed to park in Walmart parking lots all night long and sleep there. They even provide free security. That's where we woke up this morning in El Paso, after driving about 8 hours from Sedona, AZ. Yesterday was a big day in Arizona. After leaving Williams, we drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where the fog was rising from the depths. Maybe not Italicthe best day for visibility but still really cool.

We arrived in Sedona at sunset and it was breathtaking. Josh took a lot of pictures of hand painted signs. (Remember, that's what this bog is supposed to be about.) Here's one example.

Today, we're trying to make our way all across Texas to Austin, although we'll probably have to stop somewhere and camp tonight before we make it. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to post pictures. I'm thinking maybe Facebook, but I'll let you know. We got some good ones! Next stop, Austin, TX!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Williams, AZ

We're in an internet cafe in picturesque Williams, AZ on Route 66, just west of Flagstaff. It's pouring rain. We arrived here around 10:30 last night, hungover from Vegas and unbearably hot. We decided to just eat a can of beans and sleep in the van and it was pretty comfy. We woke up this morning to the sound of rain beating on the roof of the van and a train honking and then passing right by our windows. This place is so cute! There's a thrift store I want to check out before we head out.
There's no pictures because the battery died on the camera and with everything that we possess packed into the van and trailer, I couldn't find the charger. We have to work on our organizational skills. Also, my computer is from the 1900's (no joke) and I can't handle how long it takes to upload photos. We'll just upload them all when we get to Indiana at Josh's mom's house so until then you'll have to just read what I say and take my word for it.
We're headed up to the Grand Canyon today, then back down to Flagstaff and maybe Sedona tomorrow before we set up camp in the Petrified Forest. At least, that's the plan.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Road Trip Blog #1

I wrote the following post on Tuesday, August 3rd but the place where we were staying had no internet or phone service so I’m only posting it now. We’re in Vegas at the moment, staying at the Excalibur (I’ve never actually been a Ren-fair nerd but I sooo could have been). We’re about to head down to the casinos and start drinking, then we’ll lounge by the pool tomorrow morning before we head off to the Grand Canyon via the Hoover Dam. It looks like the internet situation (combined with the severely shitty condition of my really old and SLOW laptop) is kind of spotty so I’ll try to post as much as I can, but it may be only once every few days. Stay tuned though. The real road trip (no more friends to stay with or Vegas hotels) is about to launch!


So the fun begins!

Last week was one of the craziest I may have ever experienced: so many errands, so much packing and purging and selling and trashing. So many going away parties! Last Tuesday we shipped our cat to Boston as cargo on United Airlines. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do. But now she thinks that we’ve abandoned her and is slowly adjusting to her new life with my brother, Greg (who was kind enough to take her in the first place but also to post this U-tube video of her playing so we would know she I feeling at home).

On Thursday, we flew to Seattle for our friends’, Steve and Julia’s, wedding on the Virginia V, an old steamship docked at Lake Union near downtown Seattle. The wedding was on Friday evening so during the day on Friday, Josh and I walked around Pike’s Place and spent a lot of time at the magic shop taking pictures of old carnival posters.

We flew back on Saturday night and after some minor setbacks (we had to get the headlight fixed on the van again) and a day’s delay, we finally made it late last night to our friends’, Nick and Fanny’s place in Ojai, CA, just north of LA. We were a little afraid that the van and trailer might not make it down the dirt road that they live on, but Josh is a pro at maneuvering that monster and here we are! Nick and Fanny live in a HUGE warehouse space with a merry-go-round and an outdoor bathtub, just a short hike from a river and a swimming hole where we’re headed later on today. I can’t even describe how amazing their place is. Hopefully the pictures do it some justice. At the moment, Josh is still sleeping, Nick is at work, Fanny is downstairs making breakfast for us, and Cherokee and Bandit are fighting over a torn up bandana on the bed, looking cute as little dog-shaped buttons!

We’re staying here until Wednesday, when we head to LA to spend the night with Josh’s friend Neil and then we’re off to Vegas! See you on the road!


You can view some of our pictures here; more to come! I'm still figuring out the best way to post them. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Day of Work

Yesterday was both Josh's and my last day at work: quite a different experience for each of us. Josh had a career here in San Francisco as a respected artist, whereas I had a job, and a crappy one at that (though I love my co-workers, friends that are like family who I will miss beyond words but dear God am I glad to be out of there!). Josh's experience at New Bohemia has spawned a life path that he is ready to bring east.
Josh's last job at New Bohemia was Tony's Pizza Napoletana in North Beach where he got a final chance to showcase his talent alongside his revered boss, Damon Styer, whose blog about his adventures in sign painting can be viewed here. I mostly just stood around yesterday.
After work we went over to the Eagle Tavern where we enjoyed some beers with our co-workers and some of San Francisco's finest leather daddies. Today Josh and I were audience members at the final taping of View from the Bay, a local daytime talk show. What a range of characters we experienced in the course of 24 hours: from bears and metal heads to Oakland church ladies singing gospel songs during the commercial break! I love this town.
We have less than a week now to get all our stuff together before we fly to Seattle for our friends' wedding. We get back next Saturday night and we hit the road on Sunday, August 1st. The first leg of our trip will include a visit with our friends Nick and Fanny in Ojai, followed by a visit to LA and then we're off to Vegas! We'll keep you posted along the way so stay tuned for our Blog Across America!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Dwinding Days

Our days here in SF are quickly coming to an end (we have less than a month!) and we want to make sure that we both experience and document as much as we can before we go. If anyone's interested, I have a list-in-progress of things I love but may have taken for granted in my decade in SF. It's here if you want to check it out.
You can also check out our new (and skeletal) flickr account which has some photos of things we've been doing recently, like Finest Dearest's last show (there's more of those here if you're interested), our impromptu trip to Santa Cruz, and Josh's co-worker Caitlin's up-and-coming urban organic farm.
Josh has also been finishing up some signs like this one here for Ian at Double Crossed Tattoos. We'll have a set on flickr for his sign work soon, but until then everything's all just mixed in. That's all I've got for today. Thanks again for checking us out. -M&J

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Josh is famous!

or, at least he's featured in a photo on a couple of blogs about New Bohemia.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BD Signs has been hijacked!!!

That's right: it's a mutiny. I'm taking over this blog because, simply, I will actually utilize it. This is Meredith, by the way, Josh's fiance.
We will be leaving San Francisco soon for eastward adventures and we'll be driving across this great country of ours. I personally have never successfully driven across country (two attempts, two car accidents: long stories. Third time's a charm?) and I'm more excited than I can express. We plan to chronicle our adventures in this here blog and to make it all cohesive, we plan to find old hand-painted (or not) signs along the way and post them here. I hear there's an old neon sign graveyard of sorts in Las Vegas and that sounds awesome. Also, I want to thrift across country (thank you so to make this usurpation worth it, you'll have to hear about my passions too: Clothes!!! Vintage clothes!! Thanks for reading. We'll see you on the road!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sign Painter Movie

Today a film crew began shooting at New Bohemia for a documentary about America's sign painters. Here's a link to their blog:
Check it out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Best Dressed Signs

Welcome to Best Dressed Signs! This is the place to access all my newest sign and art adventures. My names is Josh Luke and I am currently a sign painter at New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco, a company which has afforded me great opportunities to enhance my skills and work as an artist while carrying on the classic tradition of hand painted signs. We recently had a sign show at Adobe Books. The unsold pieces from this show are featured on the New Bohemia website (click on the link above). New Bohemia will be featured in some documentaries soon which when they come out, I will post links to.
Looking forward to posting more soon!