Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mister Cartoon on Apprenticeships

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Cartoon gave us a lesson in sign painting over here at the studio; not a practical one where I get to make a mess of his sign, but a historical one. He showed me where he started off from, before the tattoos, before the sneakers, before the cars and the clothing lines it started from his sign painting.

From the outset it looks crazy, difficult to control the brush, with various kinds of strange and unusual paint stock you apply it to uneven and different forms of surface to create letters, forms and symbols. This is one of the oldest crafts and a craft that is in Cartoon's words, "dying out."
Historically, apprenticeships were the only means of learning this craft, and an apprenticeship could last for years, depending on the skill of the
apprentice and the knowledge of the "master". The other skills Toons like'nd this to were gold-leafing, pin-stripping, stenciling, and silk-screening.

I guess with the advent of the computer, sign-painting, amongst other traditional crafts, have been displaced with computer driven tools. The
"craft" has all but disappeared, and in only a few "technical schools" or specialty schools such as LA Trade Tec, where Cartoon studied back in 1988, it is it still taught. While sign-painting is considered a dying trade, here at the studio Cartoon is a big advocate of his apprentices and any others who want to follow in his footsteps taking up sign painting. He says, "It is good way to start out. It helps you develop your brush skills, it gives
you good habits and helps you understand the weight and form of lettering and when the electricity goes down or the computer breaks you still have a skill that you can put into good use."

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