Thirty years ago if you needed graphics , large decals or stickers on your auto, van, truck or boat you would consult with a sign writing company. This was before the advent of the computer, when things were done “the old fashioned way”. A sign writer was a man or woman who in some countries had served an apprenticeship for four or five years and the watchful and instructing eye of a “journey man” who had served his apprenticeship and had years of experience on the job with all types of signage and graphics and to be a sign writer you definitely had to have artistic flair. His tools of trade were varying sizes of paint brushes from very fine to big, (for painting backgrounds on which the sign writing would be applied). In his van or truck were many, many cans of paint of all sizes as one would hardly ever know how much and what color paint would be needed. Special paints were used, not the household type as sign writing was expected to last many years so there was a “Sign Writing Paint” standard manufactured which would have long lasting qualities. An interesting fact is that red is one of the colors that will fade first. Gold leaf was used for making honour boards and a sign writer excelled in fine scroll work or pin lining originally or horse drawn carts and wagons and with the advent of the motor vehicle commenced pin lining and scrolling trucks, vans and boats.
A good sign writer was a perfectionist, this was needed to create type faces of regularity, shape, size and colour. The brushes used were made from exotic hair, for instance, sable, squirrel and oxen, artificial and plastic derivative fibres were completely unknown and never used. Quality brushes were expensive and carefully cared for, looked after and cleaned. You could always tell a sign writer as they shared almost a universal uniform. White bib and brace overalls and boots, both splattered with many colors of paint and a work box made of wood that contained many brushes and tins of paint. The box also doubled as a seat to sit on whilst they worked on some jobs. The problem with using paint on autos, vans, trucks, boats, in fact any surface that had been sign written with paint is that it was almost impossible to remove at the time to sell it (autos and vehicles especially) or the end of its life like on shop and store awnings. Today it is easy to remove due to graphics, decals and sticker being made of vinyl as the Wonder Wheel is designed to make your job easy.
In Part 2 will be the introduction of vinyl and computers.