A rich history of signpainting

Sign painting was once upon a time, the gold standard of advertising in Australia. In Sydney, across NSW and beyond, hand-painted and hand-crafted signs advertised everything; beer, stocking, tailors, butchers, sales and directions. Now, with the rise of the large format inkjet plotter, vinyl substrates and computer generated graphic design, this beautifully-human and imperfect typographic art is teetering between going the way of the dodo, and becoming highly-desirable.

A new book called Signs of Australia, seeks to explore and document this classic form of artistic expression by capturing signs from all around Australia. The authors covered 40,000km in search of these relics of yesteryear in the hope that they may inspire a new generation of graphic designers, typographers and artists across New South Wales to contribute to and preserve this artform.

“We didn’t always know what we’d find or even where to look. But sure enough, there they were: a beer-drinking emu in outback Queensland; an entire shed advertising Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills in a paddock on the outskirts of Maitland; a large pink neon poodle promoting a Gold Coast motel that no longer exists; a four storey dingo on the side of an old flour mill in Fremantle.” – Brady and Dale