My sign design projects with hand painted script lettering – 1980’s and 90’s

Back before computers were everywhere, I worked with some businesses to develop a graphic identity for their vehicles, printing, etc. I may have saved the logo design graphics somewhere, if I find them I’ll add photos to this post. Bouncy scripts incorporated into graphics have a unique eye-catching flow to them.

This one – Bay View Plumbing in Redondo Beach CA, was a classic sign painter design that ended up in all their printed pieces, on the vans, magnetic signs, the awning over the office, and who knows where else!

Bay View Plumbing

Another plumbing business I designed lettering for – I believe this was the first of a series of plumbing businesses because of referrals – is this one in Torrance CA.

Galloway Plumbing

This logo has been used by Discount Pool & Spa Supply in Lomita CA for many years. This was the first van I did for them…

Discount Pool Van

Fortunately we decided to lose the goofy pool water I thought was so clever in later years — still doing their vehicles, but now wrapping them (still using the same logo) like this:

Discount Pool Chevy Truck

Here’s another plumbing van client that I started working with in that time period, this one in Torrance CA. This is a newer vehicle, done in vinyl – but the bouncy script layout was inspired by years of sign painting.

This window signage for Robin Smith Physical Therapy in Manhattan Beach CA used the client’s business identity that included a script-style combined with classic sign painting techniques.

Based on her business card which had the color effect in the name lettering. Hand painted inside glass – started with outlines and descriptive copy (under the name), then stippled color in the name, and stippled white for the translucent effect it provides for the panel. I did this somewhere in the early 1990’s.

Robin Smith window

Finally, here is one more bouncy, hand painted, sign painter design style (kind of a showcard in banner format) I did around, maybe, 1985…


Sign painters have had a huge influence on graphic design in times past. We can look to all the unique script hand-lettering in (what I think, anyway) was the heyday of advertising and graphic design in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

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Recent work – cost-effective Costco signage

Your humble sign painter got a little cost-effective sign painting in today, for Costco Carmel Mountain in the San Diego area. The manager told me their monument sign’s painted letters didn’t match the corporate logo – I can completely understand why it bugged him!

Here is the “before” picture – the “o'” and “s” shapes were wrong in “Costco”, and the “s” was the same odd shape in “wholesale”.


After taking careful dimensions I went back to the shop to prepare. With the proper logo in hand, I created the paper pattern to transfer the design to the monument, to know where to paint – and paint out the malformed letters.

On site, I matched the background color by eye, then painted out the offending letter shapes.


Then, on to painting the client’s correct corporate logo. I also took a moment to refresh all the red, since it’s a color that fades easier than others..

Here is the final result – hand-painted cost-effective signs have created another happy customer!


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Sign painting: painted signs are cost-effective signage!

When you want cost-effective signage, many of our clients have found that our professionally painted signs and painted graphics do the job perfectly.

Consider this: a standard sized sign made with metal or plastic letters can cost thousands of dollars just for materials (not including the additional cost paid out for professional installation). With a large sign (4 foot or taller letters and graphics, for example) that cost multiplies tremendously.

On the other hand – our professionally produced hand painted graphics can cost a fraction of that.

Here are some examples:

Our client University of California Irvine wanted to professionally apply graphics to this water tower which had a deep rib texture (limiting other types of signage). They decided that for this location hand painted graphics would work best for longevity and maintenance. They wanted their mascot on one side, their logo on another side — the mascot is about 30 feet wide, the logo about 30 feet high. Here are some photos of our work there:

Peter the Anteater -- UC Irvine  UCI Graphic from parking lot

The logo project turned out to be a perfect backdrop for the 2017 LA Rams Training Camp held at U.C. Irvine:

Photo of our work at UC Irvine earlier this year -- foreground: LA Rams Training Camp 2017 at the campus

Another client, Parts Authority, discovered the cost-effectiveness of hand-painted signs. We’ve provided painted signs for many of their facilities – that story is at this link. Here is their corporate location:

San Bernardino - front sign

Sonicpool Post Production, a client in Hollywood, California, had a large wall visible to the street a block away. We painted this large, cost-effective sign for them:

SonicPool - wall logo mural

A public service organization in the north county of San Diego area discovered that they could save money with professional painted signs and used Big City to get their signage up and the word out:

North County Lifeline painted wall sign

Not only can signs be professionally painted on rough stucco surfaces (above) but on corrugated metal, brick, etc. — sign painting is your best and most cost-effective choice if you want signage or graphics in a place where textured surfaces or materials put a limit on other options. Here is one school mural project with those kind of surfaces – corrugated metal above, concrete block below – both were not a problem for us to get signage where it needed to be:

Serra High School - Gardena CA

Serra High School - Gardena CA

Many schools, public and private, have found that we can provide them with cost-effective murals, school mascots, and award graphics. Often, walls at their facilities have a texture or simply a size that limit the choices to our professional hand painted signs and graphics. Here are some examples:

Arroyo Vista Wildcats - final Southlands Christian School mural

Tony Tobin Elementary - Temecula,  CA Mural project - Hutchison Middle School - Downey CA

Baseball Shed - completed Claremont wall 1 - gym graphics

Prado View Elementary School

To sum this up: there really is no limit to what we can do for you!

What kind of project do you have in mind? Contact us today!

Recent work – hand painted rebranding graphics for Parts Authority Auto Parts Super Stores

Our client finds that our sign painting services turn out to be very cost-effective. That’s why Big City has been busy rebranding various warehouse and retail locations in California. These locations range from Fresno to San Diego to San Bernardino. Another happy client!

Here are the photos – click to enlarge:



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