Future Ghost Sign

Sep 25, 2014

A ghost sign is the worn out remnants of an old, usually hand-painted, sign from “back in the day”. They can be found all over Buffalo on old brick buildings. The hand-painted style looks so great on the brick, as the grout provides texture and creates an industrial feel. The designs off these signs were mostly utilitarian. Conveying the relevant details of the business clearly and concisely took precedence over design aesthetic, which of course, ironically, is what gives them there unique style and character today. Unfortunately, due to the expense and upkeep of paint, developers have mostly switched to vinyl signage. Personally, I love when the paint wears down; it creates a nostalgic mark of history and experience, a la “est. 19__”.

We had a large wall over-looking the future site of the beer garden begging for a mural of some sort, so we decided to create our own ghost sign as homage to our neighborhood’s industrial history. I called my friend Evan, who did the rest of our branding, and within minutes (another advantage of the, say…minimalist style) we had our design. Then I got recommended a local artist, Chuck Tingley, whose studio is just down Exchange Street. Here’s a photo Journal from the next couple weeks working together:


Chuck had never done quite this kind of work before, so he first put up a sample to test techniques and color scheme:


Looked great, but a little too pure black and white, so we added a splash of cream and felt good to proceed.


We went to the site and eyed out the size; one of those put your hands in a rectangle techniques. Then Chuck taped it out:


Next the background:



We rented a projector, a scissor lift, and outlined the font (and by “we”, I mean Chuck). Look closely:


Finish the font, add a boarder to really make it pop, and voila!:


We were originally going to power wash it to give it the faded look, but upon completion we thought it better to start our own generation of signs that will wear naturally over time. These creative processes are the funnest part of working in this industry. We made a connection with a great artist who we are already working on other projects with, and a neighboring building owner liked the end result so much they are putting up there own in a similar style. The more the Merrier!

Check back in 40 years to see how they held up.