I vividly remember, as a very young child, my father pulling into a gas station. I recall exactly where it was. Nothing exists there now. In fact, it’s been paved over and is now a major road intersection. But then, it was a gas station with dirt parking, no pavement, anywhere.
In the shade of the building, off to the left side (and the left side of our car) was a man sitting on a very short, three-legged stool hand painting a sign. I was so fascinated I sat on my legs on the car’s seat so I could see better! He was painting with a brush on a blank sign canvas. His letters were perfect. No tracing. All freehand. Fancy, ornate, angled letters.
I suppose my fascination with artistic expression was born on this day. This man, this graphic artist, saw something in his mind, in his imagination, and was bringing it into existence, into reality so I could experience it too.
He did this with brushes and a palate of paints.
Regional artists created localized looks and visual “personalities” associated with where their work was typically seen. How times have changed. Today, the “look” of signage is “homogenized.” Fonts and presentation media are rather standardized across the world. Digitized. A dreadful sameness permeates our visual lives. Well, it does the same in our sound space as well—with samples and repeated patches. Creative genius is vastly marginalized and at significant cost.
Welcome John Mayer‘s vision of cover art for his album, Born and Raised. Sony Music/Columbia Records, New York, commissioned an amazing traditional glass art and sign craftsman, David A. Smith, to design and create the album cover art. David, who lives and works in Torquay, Devon, in the United Kingdom, creates stunning masterpieces. I have always been enchanted by glass artistry (gilding, etching, stained glass, etc.), but David takes this to the top of the master level.
Check out this video of the process. The level of skill and craftsmanship is fantastic! You can almost smell the paints, stains, dust, etc. How many people in our world still have this skill?! I hope this art form enjoys a huge resurgence. Magnificent.