Tag Archives: enamel on metal

ESPO on Sign Making

Throughout the length of  Steve Powers’ current show at White Walls, several gallery visitors have asked if he is a professional sign painter. This excerpt from Steve’s A Love Letter for You blog breaks down his shift from graffiti to sign painting, with a tinge of his usual humor.


After I stopped writing my name on stuff, I made a lateral move into sign painting. The materials were essentially the same, (enamel on metal), the colors were similar, (bold and garish are best) but the effect was totally different. When you paint graffiti, you are an outsider that is broadcasting your signal to the center of the community. When you paint a sign, you are broadcasting from the center of the community to the periphery. Graffiti is a youth testing out a microphone, Signs speak into the mike eloquently and with authority. Even as a teenager I could see a huge difference in how my work was perceived versus the painted signs that commanded respect.

There is an amazing painted sign tradition that permeates the landscape of West Philadelphia. I’ll be adding many more pictures in time, but look at these and see the direction we’re going to take this project. We’ll be reviving the dead arts of  sign painting and wall-writing; The bricks were painted 40-80 years ago and they remind us that West Philly was a powerful place of mercantile style and industrial might, and could be again. The rents are certainly right, the community is certainly ready. -ESPO, A Love Letter for You

This Saturday, December 5th  is your last chance to catch ESPO’s current show hanging at White Walls Gallery. Trust us, the smell of Steve’s tire pyramid makes for a multi-sensory experience that can’t be missed.