New Orleans And Its Traditional Hand-painted Signs

A few black artists in New Orleans are the only ones who remained to maintain a local tradition of making hand-painted signs. It is common to see shop signage in Sydney but these signs are mostly digitals or created using machines. In New Orleans, these hand-painted signs can be seen in almost all types of businesses including restaurants, funeral homes, bars, salons, grocery stores, car washes, cemeteries and churches. The paintings are made using different colours and sometimes they are done on a piece of plywood that is attached to the building but majority of these paintings are done directly on the siding of the building or on shop windows.

The writing used is a either block or cursive letters and sometimes a combination of both is used. The overall look it conveys is homespun as well as naïve. The collection of hand-painted signs is considered as part of the culture of the city. This is a visual symbol of the charm and spirit that embodies New Orleans. These signs look improvised and weird at the same time, these are imperfectly done by hand and the colours are bold. The signs remain in the city as a tradition for many ages and it continues thanks to the handful of black artists that are mostly elderly. Considering that we are now in the digital age where signage can be made through the help of computers, these artists can be considered old-fashion in their own way.

Tulane University’s library worker, Anthony DelRosario, said that he understand the reason behind the hand-painted signs. Store owners will be able to save more if they chose to have digital signs, much like the shop signage in Sydney, but they do not want to lose the character that the neighbourhood is known for. DelRosario’s hobby included taking photos of hand-painted signs and the artists behind them. He is afraid that the tradition will die along with the few artists left. He added that they are the last generation and have no apprentice under their wings to take on the tradition when they pass away.