The Lost Art Of Hand-Painted Signs: New Bohemia Signs

The Lost Art Of Hand-Painted Signs: New Bohemia Signs

Tess Wilson
Aug 14, 2012

Every time I see a particularly amazing painted sign, window, or sandwich board in San Francisco, it turns out it was made by the talented folks at New Bohemia Signs. I've always wished I had a business so I could engage their services, but what I didn't know is that they do custom work for civilians, too, AND they have a gallery of fine art signs made by their in-house artists.

I walk past New Bohemia all the time and always admire all the signs they have in their window. I've also worked for a couple of shops that had signs made by New Bohemia, and I can say that their work is topnotch and painstakingly done. I find it so beautiful, so it pleased me greatly to learn about the fine art side of their business. Here are some of my favorite pieces, all one-of-a-kind originals by local artists:

  • Ken Davis created this wonderful enamel and gold Cellar Door piece. Didn't Drew Barrymore once say that "cellar door" is the loveliest phrase in the English language?
  • This charming Best Dressed sign is by Josh Luke — it would be so encouraging to get dressed under it everyday.
  • This sign by Damon Styer pulls out all the stops: enamel, gold, glass, mirror, and lights. Festive!
  • He also created this classic firehouse sign — the next best thing to living in an old converted brick firehouse.
  • And I get a kick out of his "If there could be a darker sign, I would paint it" anti-sign. Love it!

As much as I would like to own any of those, I can't stop thinking about having a custom sign made. Small and simple of course, and even then I'm not sure if I could afford it, but I'm thinking of sending my ideas in to get a bid. If you were to have a hand-painted sign made, what would it say, and where would you hang it? And gold or no-gold? I would definitely do gold, all the way.

(All images from New Bohemia Signs, by the artists listed above.)

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