I recently completed work on a lettering design for the front of a building in Ketchikan, Alaska. The letterforms were based loosely on historical examples from the area. Traditionally, sign makers would fill as much space as possible, using the slats or runs of bricks as a grid on which to build the letters. The shapes of the letters themselves, while following standard styles and practices, often displayed idiosyncrasies unique to each sign maker, unlike today when most such signs are made with off-the-shelf fonts, typed on a computer keyboard, and “output” to a vinyl cutter.
Although I do my final artwork electronically, the letters were designed from scratch with paper and pencil. The finished design was sent to Ketchikan where local sign painters (above) applied my design to the building using traditional techniques—real paint and real brushes. According to the client, the sign has become a “photo op” for tourists.
(Photos courtesy Deby Slagle, Alaska Fish House. Used with permission.)