Get to know more about the art of sign painting in our Interview with Jessica:
Bend Goods: How and when did you discover your love and passion for signs?
Jessica: I’ve always loved letter forms – I spent many hours inventing my own alphabets in elementary school and, as an adult I found that, whenever I traveled, most of my photos would be of handmade signs instead of landmarks. (I travel to Mexico City a lot, and have even had my photos of signs there published on one of my favorite photo blogs, Polar Inertia.)
I never really thought about sign painting as a profession until I met someone who had attended LA Trade Tech’s Sign Graphics program. It’s located in Downtown Los Angeles and is the only place to learn sign painting in the country (unless you can convince an old-timer to take you on as an apprentice!). It’s a two year full-time program led by the legendary sign painter Doc Guthrie. A lot of people are surprised that the program is that long, but this is such a complicated craft, and every job is different, so I still learn something new with almost every commission I take on.
I completed the Sign Graphics program five years ago, and have been painting signs professionally ever since. I started Analog Signs and became a full-time sign painter in 2014.
Bend Goods: What is most fun about your job? What’s the worst part?
Jessica: I love working with small businesses, and meeting owners who are passionate about their work. I also love helping those owners come up with effective and beautiful ways to advertise themselves.
The worst part is probably working outside in Southern California summer heat! (Though sign painters in LA are very lucky since they can work outside year-round. Many sign painters in other parts of the country either close up shop three months out of the year, only take interior commissions, or become tattoo artists in the winter!)
Bend Goods: How can we imagine the process of your work? Do you mostly come up with the Ideas in cooperation with the costumer or how do you visualize customer’s wishes?
Jessica: The process is different for each job. Sometimes I’ll have a client tell me they have no idea what they want, but they’ll provide a few reference images for inspiration. This will begin a process of design and revision before paint makes it onto a wall. Sometimes clients know exactly what they want, and I’ll help them implement that vision.
Bend Goods: How did you experience working on the sign for Bend?
Jessica: Bend’s sign had a couple technical challenges I wasn’t expecting. I experimented with color combinations and blending techniques before getting on-site to try to achieve the ombre effect in the design. I decided to do a five-color blend to get the smoothest-looking transition from cobalt blue to magenta. However, the first day of painting was close to 90 degrees and, in order to blend well, the paint needs to stay wet. I chose to use water-based paint, so this was almost impossible – the paint was drying on my brush before I could get it on the wall! Thankfully, the second day was cooler, so I could proceed as planned.
Even though the project was a challenge, I learned a lot and was very proud of how it turned out! It was a joy to see so many posts of the sign on social media during your opening party.
Bend Goods: Do you have a project that you are most proud of or a favorite project?
Jessica: It’s hard to choose just one! One project that I loved working on this month was for Poncho’s Tlayudas. They started out as a somewhat secret restaurant in the back yard of a house in South Central. They only cook tlayudas, which are like a giant Oaxacan quesadilla. They recently started selling at Smorgasburg, so I helped create a sign for their stand there. I got to work with a logo created by the incredible Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos, who are best known in LA for their Oaxacalifornia mural that was up in the Central Library for the last year. Best of all, most of the proceeds from Poncho’s sales go to his wife Odilia’s non-profit, the Front of Indigenous Organizations, which promotes indigenous peoples’ well-being, gender equity and self-determination in Mexico and the United States.
Bend Goods: What’s the biggest difference between working with businesses and artists? Aren’t artists more complicated as customers? ☺
Jessica: Hah! For me, the most complicated customer is one who has difficulty expressing what they like or dislike about a design. Artists are usually very good at that, and they’re often open to my input, so I love working with them. (And I consider the folks at Bend to be artists!)
Bend Goods: Do you see a current trend in commercial signs?
Jessica: I’ve painted a lot of bold san serif signs in white, black, gray or gold recently. That’s one reason why working on this project with Bend was so fun – I don’t get to use bright blue and hot pink paint every day!
Bend Goods: It’s been a pleasure working with you! We are so in love with the sign, Thank you so much!
Check out Jessica's website analogsigns.com