Sign Painter

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Sign Painter


Signs are absolutely everywhere. Big, or small, handwritten or electronic, they all have the same mission: to get information out to the public.

Many signs are painted. The people who paint them are certified sign painters, who design, build, paint and varnish signs for business, advertisements, and displays on various surfaces including brick walls, metal surfaces like cars and trucks, wood platforms, plastic bulletin boards, and on sports fields.

Sign painters lay out and print lettering, figures, and designs. They paint simple backgrounds and intricate figures. Using both freehand methods and painting aids, like spray guns, saws, and silkscreens, they create huge signs as well as tiny signs, according to the ideas and requirements of the clients. Sometimes, clients will leave the whole design up to the sign painter, who becomes the sign designer, as well.

Sign painters must be skilled artists who have steady hands, an eye for composition, and the ability to work with a number of tools. They must be creative, thoughtful artisans who can create interesting, and arresting, signage that will get the point across.
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  Interests and Skills  
Sign painters should be comfortable with paints, glues, and varnish, including the use of blending, mixing, thinners, primers, and dyes. They must be accurate, meticulous, and detail-oriented. They should also be creative and innovative, as well as feel comfortable following directions.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet with client to discuss desired signage
  • Copy design or create an original design
  • Cut necessary materials
  • Paint logos, graphics, messages, numbers on a variety of surfaces
  • Perform administrative duties
  • Each day as a sign painter involves some painting, as well as meeting with potential clients, to discuss signage requirements. The job involves some hard work, especially when the signs are painted outside. Sign painters travel throughout their communities.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Sign painters work for sign shops, advertising firms, and design companies. They may own their own business, and work with a small team of sign makers, designers, and painters. Some sign painters find work with television, theater, and film companies.
  • Sign painters work in studios, workshops, and outdoors. They usually work regular hours, however, those with smaller teams may work longer hours and on weekends, depending on client needs. They are also exposed to chemicals, paints, and varnishes, which are potentially dangerous in the long run.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Sign painters can open their own sign painting business, taking on more responsibilities like finances, client contact, and advertising. They may also get involved in television, theater and film as set painters. With additional trainign they may choose to branch into other aspects of sign making, like neon, wrought iron, and computer generated signage.

  Educational Paths  
While there is no set educational path to becoming a sign painter, completion of secondary school is typically required by most employers. Sign painters will receive much of their training on the job. Some postsecondary courses such as visual art, graphic design, and business would all be useful to a sign painter to secure good employment and for possible progression in the field.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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