In recent weeks a number of hand painted commercial signs have been popping up in Allentown. BRO readers have been keeping a vigilant lookout for a busy sign painter who has been spotted working along Allen Street. He was first seen painting a rather large sign at P.L.U.M Works (Passion & Labor United with Materials). Next the artist made his way over to Indigo Art Gallery. And just yesterday he made an appearance at Nickel City Graphics and Buscemi Photography in the Bellasaria building.
I caught up with the sign painter as he was putting the final touches on his latest creation. It turns out that his name is Christian Shaknaitis, and he recently moved to Buffalo to be part of the renaissance. “I moved to Buffalo in November,” he told me. “I was living in Pittsburgh up until that point, where I was also a sign painter.”
When I asked Christian what brought him to Buffalo, he replied, “I wanted to see what was going on. Buffalo’s starting to happen and I wanted to be part of a new, fresh beginning.”
I then inquired as to whether he knew of any other old-world sign painters on the scene in Buffalo and he answered, “I am told that there are no full-time, non-stop painters who are doing this as a profession. I also paint A-frames (sandwich boards), which are really huge in Pittsburgh right now.”
What a breath of fresh air it is to see an artist doing this sort of commercial work. Instead of vinyl banners and store-bought specials, this is the direction that more businesses should be looking in. These signs say, “We care about our business.” The store owners who commission artists such as Christian also send out a signal that they appreciate the artisans in our community and are willing to pay a few extra bucks to get the job done right.
Hopefully this is just the start of the artisanal sign movement in Buffalo. Looking back to this post that I wrote in May, we have seen some scattered moments of brilliance, though nothing that would indicate a groundswell of activity. The more business owners that are able to appreciate and promote an artisan’s handiwork, the better.
Christian’s handmade signage and lettering business is called Brush & Pounce (see website). You can reach him at 412.965.0453