I have wanted to acknowledge my mentor since I joined Letterville and have never taken the opportunity. Here it is!
Back in 1977, I was a young artist with what I considered some "sign" skills. I had been making signs throughout high school and college for local events... you remember. I learned that I enjoyed the field. I had decided that being an Art Teacher was NOT in my future (after 4 years in college, training to teach).
While driving throughout Baltimore City during those college years, I became aware of a sign company named Northeaster Signs. The signs were always attractive, legible, and classy. When I decided to take the route of a sign painter, of course I went to Northeaster.
There I was, showing my artist's portfolio as an example of my skills. Little did I know what a totally different artistic field sign painting truly is. I guess this person saw some potential in me. My first job, was painting an illustration onto a double-sided 4'x8', someone else would follow-up and letter it. That was my introduction to lettering enamels and a whole new world. I apprenticed, and remained, with Northeaster Signs for 5 years.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Phil Horak, Sr. for having the faith in me and the patience to mold me into a better person. Daily, as I make the most simple decisions, I realize that I was a lucky person to have been mentored by him. He taught me more than he can imagine, and for that I am eternally grateful.
-------------------- Gene Golden Gettysburg Signs Gettysburg PA 17325 717-334-0200 firstname.lastname@example.org
"Art is knowing when to stop." Posts: 1578 | From: Gettysburg, PA | Registered: Jun 2003
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I have a few. John Seigel Hatfield, Mass.; Robert "Cos" Cosgrove Bangor, Pa.; Dan Delaney North Tonawanda, N.Y. I have learned so much, from so many. These three have been a great help to me for many years, and are all close friends. I'm sure I'll think of someone else, as soon as I post this. These are the first that come to mind.
-------------------- Luke S. Luke Scanlan Artistry Ocala, Fl. email@example.com Posts: 249 | From: Ocala, Florida | Registered: Nov 2001
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I would like to thank my many mentors...In this day and age, it is hard to find just 1 person to teach you; but there are many that will teach you what they can.
Alan Johnson, Blairstown, NJ for telling me how to get started and continuing to help me out whenever I need. Gary Jenson, SLC, Ut for taking me under his wing at Lead East and teaching me for 3 days. Howie Nisgor, NY. & Bill Beckner, Pa. for all their help too. Frank Sparendara, NJ, and Brendon Brandon, Md. for teaching me the art of Leaf. and FINALLY... Harry Henkel in Englishtown, NJ for 3 years of apprenticeship before I moved up here.
I am lucky to have met these guys and by showing them my determination to learn they had faith that I would carry on all I can to keep the Letterhead/Pinhead spirit alive.
-------------------- Doug Fielder Fallout Grafix Port St. Lucie, FL
16 years with a brush in my hand... Posts: 273 | From: Port St. Lucie, FL | Registered: May 1999
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My mentors are remembered in the American Sign Museum. They are both long gone now along with their shop foreman Gene Howard, one of the Central Illinois finest sign painters.
Hinie Johnson and his son Bud Johnson were among the top recognized sign makers in the country. They both had regular articles appearing in the Sign Of The Times Magazine. Hinie had a regular series called the "Old Pro".
Their talents were used by such compaines as State Farm Insurance, Beer Nuts, Kathern Beich Candies (now Nestle owned).
These three were my mentors. They were not easy to work for. I lasted 4 years until that fall that broke my foot in 3 places in 1979. I went in my own business in 1980. By 1988, a few years after the Gerber Edge was introduced, their business had collasped.
Besides getting old, what killed their business is a lesson for all. They got set in their ways, not willing to change to newer layouts, not willing to do sandblasted sign work, and not training up a permanent crew to keep the business running as they slowed down. The business ended up in the hands of Bud's son who cared little about business ethics, customer service or quality work. It didn't last very long in his control.
The skills they taught are not much a part of what we do now. They way the business died is a pattern I hope to avoid.
Because they wrote articles in SOT magazine, I gained insight into that nitch and have had 35 articles published with 3 magazine covers and published 1 original sign music CD called "Songpainter" with the help of the very gifted talents of sign folk right here in Letterville.
One erie incident I remember was lettering an old 48 Ford wrecker. It was my job to restore the lettering as it had looked in the early 1950's. My mentors had lettered that same wrecker when I was a baby, and now I had to letter it again 50 years later and make it look exactly the same. I sat in the same spot, held my brush the same way, my hands touched the truck with the same skills.
It was very symbolic of them being able to contiune the exact same work through me, as if I was trained for this specific moment in time.
Rest in peace, my mentors. Life was short and full of agrivation for you. Thanks for showing me the way, and how steer the ship away from danger.
[ February 07, 2005, 11:04 PM: Message edited by: Dave Draper ]
*ALL* of the Letterheads have had a huge inspiration on me if not directly teaching me techniques. But on a very personal level the ones that most impacted my life were Mike Stevens, Alton Gillespie, Al Grand, Dusty Yaxley, Jeff Cahill, David Butler, Bill Hueg, Mike Jackson, David (Sir Walter) Showalter... the line blurs somewhere around there but there are plenty on the periphery. If I appear to stand tall in this community it is only because I stand on the shoulders of giants.
-------------------- Ricky Jackson Signs Now 614 Russell Parkway Warner Robins, GA (478) 923-7722 firstname.lastname@example.org
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Sir Issac Newton Posts: 3528 | From: Warner Robins, GA | Registered: Oct 2004
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Mine was a local sign painter and carver, Frank Horner, Woodmont CT. He had me attend Butera School of Art Sign Program in Boston and got me started in the real world of signs. The next big influence was Brec Morgan, Morgan Signs, Norwalk. The best sign designer I ever knew personally. The other influence was all those who've shared their experiences through the SOT and Signcraft, and by publishing books, Chester Cunningham, Mike Stevens etc.
Rick Kovell, owner of Top Brush Signs in Toledo, OH. He is instrumental in my business success. Any question I needed answered was just a phone call away. Rick is a fantastic hand painter and graphic artist. Although I'm strictly a computer guy, Rick's capabilities were nothing short of inspirational. His patience and willingness to share his hard earned knowledge (from the school of hard knocks) is priceless. Ed Maslik, a sales rep. for Toledo Sign (a large commercial/electrical sign company)that I originally subbed work through, was gracious enough to show me the ropes in regards to sales and marketing, as well as teaching me how to successfully price my work. I've lost touch with both of these guys over the years, but I can't thank them enough.
-------------------- Tim Whitcher Adrian, MI Posts: 1546 | From: Adrian, MI | Registered: Mar 1999
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Bob, I liked hearing that about your dad. I can really relate to that. My grandfather died when I was 12, & he was kind, patient, & loving to me. He was a machinist, & used to build Harley engine parts for people. I would walk out in his garage in the morning to share coffee with him, & he would yell at me to get my shoes one so I wouldn't get metal shavings in my feet. I still have people telling me how nice of a guy he was, & how good his work was. He was held in great respect from all who knew him, & I think that is in my mind while I work.
The interesting thing is, my mentor is someone who KNEW my grandfather. They were in the Pirates Motorcycle Club together years ago. His name is Mike, aka "Butch" Beck. He has blessed me in so many ways! He has given me about a dozen brushes or more, & a few striping brushes, which I STILL have yet to master. But he is a good friend, too, & is on dialisis now, so he doesn't do what he used to do. He will always be special to me.
-------------------- The Word in Signs Bobbie Rochow Jamestown, PA 16134
email@example.com Posts: 3485 | From: Jamestown, PA 16134 | Registered: Oct 2002
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You tend to think of a mentor as somebody older than you. In my case he's not. I share one of Luke's mentors, Robert "Cos" Cosgrove. We grew up together, have known one another since we were five years old. He introduced me to the trade and spent countless hours on the phone over the years helping me master the trade. I owe him so much. He's one of the true unsung heroes in this trade.
-------------------- George Perkins Millington,TN. firstname.lastname@example.org
"I started out with nothing and still have most of it left"
Mike Stevens and John cox were very helpful in starting out in design and then you meet guys like Gary Anderson, David butler, Ray Chapmond, Jay Cooke, Mike Jackson, Dan Swatsky, and you get to work with Canadians Nancy and Noella, Elaine Wallis, Peter Payne, Steve Shortreed who is one of the best layout guys I know, but the only one I see eye to eye with is Steven Thomas Greer! Tell me with this talent and many, many I didn't name that shares stuff how can you not be great!!!!
i had 2 when i was very young. the 1st was a local guy named mike panjuicic(anyone near canonsbugh pa. will know him as POLKA MIKE on a locla radio station there). he grew up in our small village(wasnt a town)and was a drawing fool. he could draw anything you asked him too. i was impressed at 7-8. he went into the navy and would draw his own postcards and send em to us. in his absence this old guy named WIZARD HAYNES showed up when i was 9-10. this was your proverbal "shakey jake". but boy could this man paint. he lived in a 50 buick 4 door and worked outa the trunk. it was one shot emerald green, with chrome yellow and silver lettering all over it. he saw the interest i had in this work and used to frequent my mothers bar and would take me on lettering jobs and show & tell me what he was doing. he gave me my 1st set of quills.....my time with him was short lived. his drinking and i think he had some form of cancer that was killing him finally took him. they found him dead asleep in his car in one of the near towns. he at least left me all he could in our short time together. then mike came home from the navy and rented a big old house from my mother as a studio for his sign work. he did some billboards and he would draw his pattern on the floor of this house on paper...no projectors for him. then he took me with him to paint the bill boards. they were low to the ground and he would cut in a color on the board and let me fill. i was hooked. i played at signs till i was 42.....and i finally decided this is what i need to be doin with my life!!! been poor but happy.
-------------------- joe pribish-A SIGN MINT 2811 longleaf Dr. pensacola, fl 32526 850-637-1519 BEWARE THE TRUTH.....YOU MAY NOT LIKE WHAT YOU FIND Posts: 11582 | From: pensacola, fl. usa | Registered: Nov 1998
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These have been some interesting stories!! It's hard for anyone to say ONE certain person..throughout the course of our lives, so many people have a hand in influencing and directing us towards good things . . .
~My first Pastor's wife was one of the first people I recognized and acknowledged as a 'mentor'. She was a dear freind who gave good advice in many areas of my life, and was the first to encourage me to become self-employeed.
~In the sign business, Ronny 'Neon Ron' Lipham was probably my first 'mentor' as I 'apprenticed' under him for 2 years.
The other local sign guy who helped me get the job at Ron's, was Aubrey Guinn of Guinn Signs. His work was my first 'visual' mentoring with respect to sign biz.
~I too feel all the letterheads here are my mentors and are my total connection to so much that is inspirational sign-wise and beyond.
~My everyday mentor was my Dad. It's by much of his wisdom and words that I can even function as a semblence of a normal thinking adult.
~My LIFE mentor would have to be the Lord . . .when all the others named are gone, or can't be found, or let me down . . .He never changes and is a steady Rock. He's the one out of all, that I wanna be the most like.
-------------------- Signs Sweet Home Alabama
oneshot on chat
"Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a dog" Posts: 5758 | From: "Sweet Home" Alabama | Registered: Mar 2003
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I think of the first person that introduced me to signs. Brenda Martin. One beautiful lady. She had the longest fingers I have seen. When they would grab a hold of a brush it would sing...and beautiful letters would appear. I was amazed. I still am. She gave me encouragment to continue on in this business. I thank her every day...especially when I pick up a brush...now I make it sing.
The other person was a cat named Doug Kronquist. He was a master. He showed me how a proper layout was done...he opened my eyes to the finer energies of sign writing and design. He was a past employee of Baker Signs in Philly. It is the oldest continuous sign shop in America..or so I understand. He also turned me on to laying leaf. He did some outrageous work on window gold work.
I had several others that came into my life. They gave me a part of themselves that I will always treasure. Not only various tricks and tips but also how to use acrylic paint for artwork. Dale Faulstich, Bud Turner, Kevin Della, Adrienne Morgan , and Hank Krueger. All very talented people.
I have to also add Dan Sawatzky. I met him many years ago when he had his shop and studio in downtown Chemainus, B.C. I spent a couple of hours chatting with him. Amazing talent as you well know. He influenced me more than he will ever know. Thanks Dan.
Thanks to many here on this board also...your talent was greatly appreciated at times that I felt stuck. A visit to your sites and your portfolio gave me the boost I needed. Also SignCraft...you know you always worked magic with your mag.
And especially to my wife and lover, Dianne. You gave everything you had and more to allow me to do this. You supported me in everything I ever did. You were there in the best and worst of times...always saying "come on Jackson, you know this is your dream. you must continue on, it is in your blood". I love you!!!
-------------------- Jackson Smart Jackson's Signs Port Angeles, WA ...."The Straits of Juan De Fuca in my front yard and Olympic National Park in my backyard...
"Living on Earth is expensive...but it does include a free trip around the Sun" Posts: 1000 | From: Port Angeles, Washington | Registered: Jan 1999
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This post is really interesting, as well as important; as I've always believed that something this "latest" generation of signmakers is being deprived of, is mentoring and apprenticeships.
In the pre-computer sign market...you worked for another sign shop first. You learned the skills, ranging from layout to typestyle choice to brush control. Eventually, you sprouted wings and went off on your own. I've often said that I'm concerned about the fact that few new signmakers begin their careers with any true tutelage. I don't think that you can learn enough about this trade from equipment salespeople, magazines, or, with all due respect, even a websight.
That being said, the people that have had the biggest influence on me professionally, would be Frank Saulsbury for rescueing me from the retail advertsing business and getting me started, Steve Magnanti for his layout, lettering and business skills (and 20 plus years of friendship and CONTINUED help from time to time), pinstriper Bob "Purple" Hayes, and Bob "Spook" Sparklin, Jimmy Czerkas and Mad Matt Murray for their airbrush and custom painting inspiration.
My father and a guy called Maurice (Morrie) Bennie. Both experts in their field who would shun any song and dance. So I won't.
-------------------- David Fisher D.A. & P.M. Fisher Services Brisbane Australia email@example.com Trying out a new tag: "Parents are the bones on which children cut their teeth Peter Ustinov Posts: 1450 | From: Brisbane Queensland Australia | Registered: Nov 1998
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What a great thread. Probably those folks that you have mentioned had no idea what an impact they were making on your life and craft. Most of us are just glad to find someone who shows an interest in what we do and the rest comes easily.
My earliest mentor was my brother, Wayland, who became interested in art in general and signs in particular. In our small town there were two sign painters (they shared time being the town drunk) but they wouldn't share anything with us.
Later, about junior high, we met Jimmy Coppin (now deceased) who shared the "secrets" of his trade - which during the 50's just wasn't done in our area. Later Jim and my brother formed a partnership (Belco Signs) and I worked with them for almost 25 years after college.
It was during college that I met the man who was to be my most beloved mentor - Ellison Edwards. He was a magician with a brush, but what he taught me more than anything was how to be a gentleman. It was my priviledge to present the eulogy at his funeral.
Also during college I worked with Masuda "Art" Hodges and his wife Becky. They took me under their wing and taught me the business of screen printing and also a wide range of other things.
All during my career I have tried to have an open mind and "borrow" from all those that crossed my path. Certainly, two of the greatest were Chester Cunningham and Mike Stevens, but then there is a long list of contempories that have molded my professional and personal life. Those early Letterhead participants were (and still are) heroes that will never know how much they gave to me and so many others. There is not enough space here to name them all, because all of them are very special. Today, I still learn from those that are much younger. At my age almost everyone is younger.
I've never met a sign person that I didn't learn something from. With some it was that I didn't want to follow in their footsteps, but it was still a learning experience.
Thanks to all of you for making my life richer.
-------------------- Chapman Sign Studio Temple, Texas firstname.lastname@example.org Posts: 6306 | From: Temple, Texas, USA | Registered: Nov 1998
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There are many, but the ones that pop out out were Charlie Jones, Bill Meade, Jimmy Woods, Lou Paine and Hank Kreuger, (Hank is also a fabulous Cartoonist), I'm not sure if he is the same one that Jackson Smart knows, but I new him in the 60s.
-------------------- Rove Gratz Gratz Signs 342 Walden Station Drive Macon, GA 31216 email@example.com Home Page: http://rove-342.tripod.com Posts: 861 | From: Macon, GA 31216 | Registered: Jan 2004
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No mentor here. I'm usually better off learning things my own way, ie: trying it out, screwing it up, figuring out how to fix it, on my own. I get frustrated when other people try to teach me their way, not that I don't value their help/skill, I've just never been one to follow. I like bein in the driver's seat.
It might sound weird and it might take longer to learn this way but it's the way I do EVERYTHING. I like being self-taught, it makes me more adaptable to odd situations as I'm not locked into a certain way of doing anything.
-------------------- "If I share all my wisdom I won't have any left for myself."
Mike Pipes stickerpimp.com Lake Havasu, AZ firstname.lastname@example.org Posts: 8746 | From: Lake Havasu, AZ USA | Registered: Jun 2000
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What a great idea for a topic. I would like officially recognize Marti Lindekugel for introducing me to sign painting. She was my first instructor in the (now-defunct) sign painting program at St. Paul Technical College, and I really liked the way she organized and presented her lessons, and she explained the principles in Mike Stevens' book in an easy-to-follow manner that made immediate sense.
My mentor is Bill Berberich. I learn something every time I paint with him. He has a kind, quiet way of teaching. Even years ago when he saw my first pitiful attempts, he said that he knew I had potential. Another mentor is Rick Davanzati from just up the street, who has been painting signs for over 40 years. He is a great guy, so funny, and he is always willing to share and comiserate. I turned both of them on to the Letterheads. Letterhead mentors would be John Jordan, Pierre Tardif, Mike Meyer, Jeff Lang, Bill Krupinski, Catherine Foster, and of course, Stevo. Just lately I hooked up with this dude from out Gettysburg way. I call him when I can't figger out what to do, and he and his wife even bought me Chinese one day! His name is Gene Golden. Love....Jill
-------------------- That is like a Mr. Potato Head with all the pieces in the wrong place. -Russ McMullin Posts: 8834 | From: Butler, PA, USA | Registered: Jan 2001
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I never had the experience of working in a commercial shop when I was starting out. I would have received great benefit from it, I'm sure, and I would possess a much greater knowledge now. Unfortunately, I had to learn most of what I know the hard way like Mike Pipes relates. By the way, Mike, mentoring isn't having someone make you do it the way they do it. A good mentor is someone who is there if you need them and will give you advice based on their experience. Up to you to follow or not.
I would have to say that most of what knowledge I have comes from the pages of Signcraft. There I had exposure to a lot of the people y'all have mentioned above. So much has been given on the pages of that magazine that make me a better signman, not to mention a better person.
I think a most important thing to remember while we're thinking about this topic is to be a mentor to others. I try to help everyone that I can in any way I can...I remember what it was like when there was no one for me. Someday, someone might ask the people just starting about their mentors. Wouldn't it be great if they mentioned you?
-------------------- Jack Keith Keith Signs and Graphics 12400 Stemmons Drive Cabool, MO 65689 Posts: 131 | From: Cabool, MO | Registered: Feb 2004
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Bill Englert and Pete(Len)Baker were the first two sign guys who offered pointers and tips when I decided to start this line of work. All paint, all the time. Both have retired since. These days it folks at Letterhead meets like Bill Riedel, Si Allen, Mike Z and Frank Manning who I gain inspiration, knowledge and guidance from, along with so many others here on the BB.
-------------------- Ray Rheaume Rapidfire Design 543 Brushwood Road North Haverhill, NH 03774 email@example.com 603-787-6803
I like my paint shaken, not stirred. Posts: 5648 | From: North Haverhill, New Hampshire | Registered: Apr 2003
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Gene,....dude i'mn goin' cry ! ( just kiddin') If i had a euro for every time in the past 28 yrs. someone asked ,"how did you get into painting?"-you know the rest of it,right?. Mentor,a good hearted person in my old neighborhood ,back in 73'.....named Mr Bailey! I had wrecked my dirt bike,along with 2 ribs, my nose & i think 2 teeth, "patched" & repainted the bike, lettered the tank-had no idea what to use etc. ( just like the vinyl folks today ! )But it lead to Frank seeing it & asking did you do that ? ( it was a copy of the Honda logo) His interest & sharing as well as the love of lettering lead to the present day for me. He asked that i pass on the knowledge & keep the trade going,if i could.I haven't found an ambitious or talented "candidate", so i know i'm no ones mentor, yet.
-------------------- mark zilliox mark z signs 8425 pushaw station rd. owings md. 20736 301-855-5407 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.markzsigns.com Posts: 348 | From: maryland | Registered: May 2003
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I learned the vinyl end from working at Trim Line Design. Dan Grossheider is a perfectionist! I never wanted my work to be one of those he would point out as the wrong way to do something. His neat perfect lines always seemed unattainable for me.
But, after 20+ years, I am still learning. On occasion I email a picture of my latest project to him, as he now lives in Taiwan. It always warms my heart when he gives me a thumbs up!
He left the graphics business to pursue a career in the ministry, And even though he drove me nuts sometimes, I still respect his keen sharp eye, and always try to adhere to the high standards he placed for himself and for me.
Thanks Dan, and all you Lettervillians! (is that a word?)
Speaking of mentors...I just had the nicest thing happen. My dad's mentor and boss for many years, Bob Wendlandt of Englishtown, NJ (of Sarasota, FL for the past 25 or so years)just sent me a birthday email. Not only did he remember my birthday but he even remembered how old I am. He has always been way more than a "mentor" - he was always my Uncle Bob.
I haven't been in this game that long. I started in the sign industry 9 years ago, but it doesn't take much to do that these days. About three years ago I got into the artistic side of things with pinstriping, gold leafing,etc. Were it not for a few folks that never would have happened. I want to thank them for all that I have learned in that time.
Artie Schilling invited me to his first meet in Nov. 2002 in Surfside Beach,SC (That started it all)
I hosted a small meet in March 2003. This is where I met Ryan Young,Joe Buck, and John Duckett. These three guys are such an inspiration.
I also met Sonny Franks and Jim Norris at that same meet. They both got me interested in gold leafing.
I have since had the opportunity to hang out with Alan Johnson, Bill Riedel, Paul Quinn, Dewayne Connet, Bruce Cambriello, Frank Manning, Mark Peters, Bob & Marcia Peach, and Caroline Connors at meets. Their input into my education is priceless.
Having the opportunity to know Brian Briskie, Mr. J, Tramp Warner, Mickey Harris, Karen Souza, Howie Nisgor and ask them lots of questions.
If I could put into action all of the info I have received from them all, I would be outstanding in this field of work that I love so much.
I would like to thank D.J. (Richard) Capra of DJ Signs and Arts for giving a rookie a chance when life was not looking so promising. He allowed me to continue working for him through my crazy college class schedules back in the early 90's. He always treated me like an equal even though I was just learning the ropes. In fact I was most often treated like one of his family.
His work was always original and I was very glad to be going to work for him on his projects, and on occasion still do.
There are many here that have helped me in the short time I've been around Letterville.
Mike Meyer - Very talented , and always fun to hang out with, and like Matt, I am within a couple of hours of his shop, so a visit is just a short drive away!
My kindred spirits....Jeff Ogden and FranCisco Vargas who I have had the great pleasure of working with on mural projects.
For Inspiration....Dan Sawatsky - who has helped me look beyond what I "think" is possible!
And Dave Butler...whever you are, I will volunteer to work on one of your projects any time as long as Michael Clark is there too!
And the Scottish Sign Gangsta's..you know who you are.....
I love all the stories on this thread. I know this is going out into cyberspace and no one may even read it, but I'd like to "publicly" honor my mentor; the man that made me the successful sign guy I am today. I could go on forever about Ernie, but I'll make it short.
30 years ago I was 19 years old and very determined to learn signpainting from a professional. After Danny Donati kicked me out of his shop (I might become his competition if he taught me anything), I went to Ernie Giordano's garage shop. He thought I was too old to start learning the trade, but offered me a two year apprenticeship (40 hours a week) for no pay. I accepted that very minute.
Banners, showcards, gold leaf, walls.... Two years later I stepped into my own business and made money from the start. Ernie Giordano was like a second father to me and helped shape the person I am today. Ernie wasn't just the best signpainter I knew, he was one of the kindest humans I ever met.
Ernie was one of two apprentices at Detroit's reknown Banner Sign Co.in the 1940's. He promised to bring up two apprentices in his time (he did) and asked me to bring up two apprentices in my time, but no kid has ever walked into my shop asking to learn sign painting.
It feels good to honor my mentor to sign people that understand the value of a mentor. Thanks for listening.
-------------------- Mark Casey Casey Sign Co., Inc. Berkley, MI Posts: 76 | From: Berkley, MI, USA | Registered: Mar 1999
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