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Meet Jeff Williams of Sun Signs in St. Petersburg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Williams.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Sun Signs started in 2015 in St. Pete, Fl as an accumulation of interests in both art, typography and mid-century design. Signs gave me an outlet in which I was able to take my typographic based art and turn it into functional work for friends small business ventures. I grew up around vintage clothing and mid-century modern furniture which my parents had collected and sold in their shop. Fascinated with design aspects from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s found on old advertisements and clothing labels I turned to drawing recreations and making fictitious ads and signs. Painting had become a hobby that consumed the majority of my time when I wasn’t working. Since then, I’ve been studying old books, the web and old signs themselves for any clues on how to take a traditional approach to the trade of sign painting. In the past few years, there seems to have been a resurgence of interest in the craft to the point that I’ve been able to rely solely on painting signs to make a living for over a year now with no ‘signs’ of stopping any time soon. It’s been amazing to see the growth of small businesses locally and I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to work directly with people whose businesses I support and vice-versa.

Has it been a smooth road?
The most difficult times were the beginning years in which majority of my job was letting people know that this service is still offered while simultaneously trying to practice to the point that certain styles become more or less muscle memory. In all honesty, it took quite a while to get to the point that I could confidently execute a job especially if it were painted directly on the clients’ property. At this point, the biggest struggle is less on the painting end, though there is always so much more to learn, the hardest part has been in managing the business side of things. I recall a time when I told myself “It would be so rad to become a sign painter someday” without being aware of the struggles of being an independent business owner. That day came and I realize now how much more goes into running a business beyond your specific service. I’ve been doing my best to use the same disciplines in my painting when scheduling jobs, estimates/correspondence, and finances.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sun Signs – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I paint signs for businesses using a relatively old school approach that is tried and true. I would say my specialty lies in reverse glass painting in which everything is painted as it sounds, in reverse or backward on the inside of windows and doors. I pride myself in using as little digital aid as possible without the use of projectors or fancy design programs. My passion lies within traditional sign painting methods in which all imagery is hand drawn from scratch as opposed to pre-designed logos however, I occasionally take on jobs in which the design is provided. From that point, I prepare the patterns to be painted using an analog technique. I feel that as technology advances, creatives often take the seemingly easier route whereas I prefer the methods that have withstood the test of time and have been used for hundreds of years. There seems to be a more personable feel to hand-drawn lettering over something that was just typed up and those are the qualities I seek out in signs whether locally or while visiting a new city. I find myself making (which started out more subconscious) decisions on where I shop or give my patronage based on subtleties which in my opinion reflect the care and quality behind each business or restaurant. There are plenty of ways to use technology to our advantage and just as many ways of taking the life out of a project.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
In a perfect world, I would have traveled out of state to apprentice under an established sign painter to avoid having to learn so much through trial and error. That in itself would have saved me years of painting alphabets the “incorrect” way though I feel that I have a much more well-rounded understanding of letterforms through this. All in all, I’m pleased with where sign painting has taken me and find it inspiring that despite self-doubt and criticism along the way, the old adage proves true. “If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I guess what I’m getting at is not to let yourself stand in the way of your dreams.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 975 1/2 25th St. N
    St. Petersburg, FL 33713
  • Website: sunsignsstpete.com
  • Email: sunsignsandlettering@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @sunsigns.stpete

Image Credit:
Jaison Perry, Valerie Niager, Elio August, Leo Gomez

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