Sign Makers throughout History

Sign Makers throughout History

Before social media, the internet, radio, television and even the Gutenberg printing press, there was one type of mass communication that survives today. The sign was used as far back as the cave dwellers to signal areas of gathering, trade and commerce. From Egyptian hieroglyphics to letters carved in stone in the Greek and Roman empires, sign makers have been at work for ages. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “sign” can have multiple meanings. It can mean, “a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about something.” It can also mean “a motion, action, or movement that you use to express a thought, command, or wish.” Before the wide spread of literacy, signs were simply people, known as criers, standing in front of a place of business announcing its existence. Nowadays sign makers are able to announce your business through multiple outlets. In fact, there are so many platforms to display your message, just having a single display sign outside your business can put you behind your competition. To truly appreciate the work of your modern day sign maker, let’s take a look back at what the job used to require.

Prehistoric – Dark ages

Signs of advertising carved out in brick and stone have been found to exist as early as 3,000 B.C. Because of the low literacy rates during and before the dark ages, signs often used symbols and pictures. For example, in the Roman empire a bush of ivy and vine leaves was often used to identify a tavern. In Europe symbols such as the civet cat for perfume, a key for locksmith, and three golden balls for pawn broker were standardized. A Traditional English and Irish pub signs would often include a picture indicating its title.

The Renaissance

As the age of enlightenment began, artists began channeling their skills into the production of signs. More than to simply convey a message, businesses wanted their signs to show have a distinctive mark, what we now refer to as “brand.” Signs became very intricate and elaborate. They also became increasingly more invasive and began encroaching on streets. Regulations began in the 1700s after several pedestrians were killed from a falling sign in London. Although the printing press was around, many signs were still handmade and held distinctive forms of typography.

Modern Times

Now sign makers rarely hand draw lettering, but that doesn’t mean there is no art to the craft. Modern technology allows sign makers to design signs with precision, clarity and innovation. From color to wording to overall design, they are able to communicate in a unique way to today’s audiences on multiple platforms.

Contact your local sign makers today at Kachina Sign Center in Tucson.