Hi Heads. Some of you might have heard me talk about Ben Pershing. He was a sign painter out of Mars, PA. He has been gone for at least 15 years now, but his signs remain. At a job site recently, I had the pleasure to come across a dump truck he had lettered in his Famous Birthday-Cake script.
I always said I wanted to be more prolific than Benny the Dead Guy...but I have about 40 years to catch up! 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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Jill, I don't know whether to be politely silent or mention how horrid his lettering was. I sure don't intend to offend you, but I once lived in an area where there were guys doing that type of work that never got any better and couldn't see (or admit to see) any difference between what they did and the better lettering in the community. They never spent time studying and analizing letter styles. They had one or two faces they did and were recognised by them. Those letterers did not build attractive communities.
-------------------- The SignShop Mendocino, California
Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. — Charles Mingus Posts: 6712 | From: Mendocino, CA. USA | Registered: Nov 1998
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No offense taken, Rick... I know Benny's style was a bit....different. This truck was done when he was in his 80s. I tend to go for the way-out & tacky, like velvet Elvi, etc. There is something about Benny that I always loved. He would put a board between 2 concrete blocks and stand on it to letter. The sign always turned out with a "dip" in the middle from Benny's body weight. He painted with any kind of paint on hand, and he painted on everything within a 20-mile radius of Mars. His style, tho not up to our standards, is instantly recognizable. Love- JILL (edited to say...if you've ever been to Mars, until the Letterheads arrived, there was nuthin' much attractive about it!)
Oh, I don't know Rick. I've sure seen worse. I know exactly what you mean though. I think if Jill can aspire to attain the guy's 'prolific'-ness while improving on his limited repitoire, that's a lofty goal. With only this one example to go by, it's hard to judge what Benny's capabilities may have been.
SONGPAINTER Original Sign Music by Sign People NOW AVAILABLE on CD and the proceeds go to Letterville's favorite charity! Click Here for Sound Clips! Posts: 1974 | From: Orleans, MA, Cape Cod, USA | Registered: Nov 1998
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Rick, also keep in mind that the people in Letterville are a minority in this industry. Expanding your knowledge base is very important and rewarding to the people here, but you can't eat a sign. Most sign "businesses" concentrate on quantity instead of quality. It's just a matter of survival in most cases. If a letterer has 2-3 brush styles that he can crank out quickly, he makes more in the course of a day or week. In almost every shop I've worked in, the brush man has a font or two that he can use to turn around work quickly and it's usually not his best work. The reality is some clients don't know the difference (or don't really care). I'm sure that this sounds cynical, but reality sucks, right?
[ December 28, 2003, 01:41 PM: Message edited by: Terry Baird ]
-------------------- Terry Baird Baird Signs 3484 West Lake Rd. Canandaigua, NY 14424 Posts: 790 | From: Canandaigua, New York | Registered: Dec 2002
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i know what jill is saying......i am from 30 miles south of her.....and there was no ED ROTHS, VON DUTCH, MIKE STEVENS, ( )fill in with "well known" sign painters. as a kid 8-10 i was lucky to have a sign painter that lived near me. my mom had a big building, and he would rent it on a job to job basis, to draw, yea i said DRAW his pounce patterns. bein a budding artist, this guy was my hero. he still is up in cannonsburg pa and does local radio now and goes by the name of POLKA MIKE. the next sign painter i met was WIZARD HAYNES(dead many years, and i was his last student). this was the typical "shakey jake",boozer that gave every sign painter that image. BUT THIS OLD GUY COULD PAINT(I was 10-11 then)and he had that 2-3 letter style that he didnt need to do a layout with....just wet a brush and paint!!!! his favorite lettering paint was ALUMINUM!!! as i got into lettering in later years i know why he liked that paint...nothing flows or covers as good as ALUMINUM!!! i never had the oportunity to see a REAL MASTER of lettering until i went to my 1st letterhead meet!!!! now that was a rude awakining.....bob harper was there, along with terry teague, mike myers, geo perkins, c.j. allen, pat king,mark fair and a bunch more. I was totally awe struck!!!! what in the he** was i doin in this crowd!!!! and i was mistaken that i could paint....after watchin these guys....to aspire to these guys level of ability...NO WAY JOSE!!!! NOW I KNOW.....what is great, what is tacky, and what is crap.......but you have to aspire to something....once you get this bug, only you change in later years, once you see more and more great works........
-------------------- 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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I agree with you 100%, but looking at those pics are somewhat nostalgic to me. They are a throwback to a time very different from today when, as OP mentioned, there was an image of the local sign painter, one that still exists to this day.
These guys didn't have to contend with the vast number of vinyl shops we do, were mostly known by word of mouth, and could knock out a truck in a couple of hours. Simpler days to be sure.
I don't know that they weren't too different from the so called "quicky sticky shops" of today. Fast, cheap, not too much artistic backround, but able to just plain get it done when it was needed. Sure, they weren't gonna set the sign industry on fire with technical prowess, but the local customers all knew them because they were neighbors and friends.
I met a couple of these guys when I started up my sign shop, and they were very supportive of my wanting to learn their craft. I had an artistic backround, and they always pointed out that my real talent was how I would do artwork or cartoons in a sign design. Some of the stories they had were priceless.
These days they are retired or out of the biz, but once in a while they keep in touch and continue to "talk shop" from time to time, always with well wishes and thanks that I still carry on some of the traditions of the "old school" sign painters. Although they may never have known the Letterhead movement, they certainly would have qualified as Letterheads. Not so much for the work they did, but for the willingness to share and inspire they quietly had, something uncommon when they started up back in the day.
Just a few thoughts... Rapid
-------------------- 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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Well, I dunno. I kinda like it myself. But then, I do tend to veer towards stuff that isn't "precisely perfect" and, like Jill, I have an endearment towards stuff that is different, and perhaps kinda tacky. I call it "kish".
Very cool that you posted this. Salute to Benny! A signpainter who made a mark!
-------------------- "When Love and Skill Work Together ... Expect a Masterpiece"