What's the best way to paint a window sign?

My boyfriend finally got his loan to start his second business. It’s a camera shop and darkroom (I know, film now? But he swears the numbers are great.) Obviously, he’s trying to save as much money as humanly possible when opening up, and somehow or other I seem to have volunteered to paint a window sign for him. I may have been drunk at the time.

Of course, I’ve never done such a thing in my life. My thinking was, we take the logo he’s done up and print it on transparency. (We’ll have to adjust the logo so it has white borders all around,I imagine.) Go down to the government surplus and get a ten dollar overhead projector. Flip the transparency over and project the backwards image as big as we can onto one of those big rolls of paper, like for covering tables with maybe. Draw the lines. Take the paper to the outside window and tape it down level. Paint along the lines on the inside.

Can it really be that simple?

There are two complicating factors: I believe the window is tinted, but I’m not sure how. Oh, and the window glazing is a “friable asbestos source”. But that won’t matter unless I, like, break it, right?

Also, there are vinyl letters on the outside of the window now, but I assume they will either peel or razor off. Is there a solvent that would make removal easier?

What am I not thinking of? Is there a better, smarter way? A shortcut? What kind of paint should I use? Is there an optimal size for letters? A width lines should be?

This may be the only sign on the building for quite some time, so it needs to be really good and stand out. Any and all advice would be really, really appreciated.

That’s pretty much it, anthough maybe you should print the graphic to a 35mm slide size and pop that into one of his darkroom enlargers. :smiley:

Another option is to scale the graphic up in printing and tile it across however many pages, or take a letter-sized print to Kinko’s and run it through the blueprint/banner copier and blow it up to whatever size you need.

If the window is tinted, anything you paint on the inside will probably be hard to see, so you may wind up needing to paint the outside.

The existing vinyl letters should come off without much drama by using a razor blade. Something like Goof-Off will then take off any remaining adhesive.

The glazing putty - yeah, don’t mess with it and you’ll be OK.

As for the business itself, film and wet darkroom is about as nichey a niche market as you could ever hope to get into. It’s certainly not one I’d want to try. One of the premier photography stores in the Bay Area has gone from three floors crammed solid with anything you could ever think of putting film into down to a few rolls of film behind the register - everything else is now empty space or digital.

Similarly, the one and only rental darkroom in the area has gone from being a buzzing hive of activity at all hours to an almost entirely empty and private space, and a large portion of the facility has been repurposed as an art gallery.

I don’t think the numerous art schools around here even teach film-based photography anymore, and it’s just a die-hard handful of holdouts remaining.

This isn’t the cheapest way to go, but you may want to suck down the cost of going to a sign shop, and getting custom vinyl letters cut. They put them on a double sided sheet. You stick the sheet where you want it, remove a hinging section of the backing paper, lift up the sign, remove the rest of the backing and then very carefully lay the sign down, squeegeeing out any bubbles with a credit card.

You can get any color of the rainbow, and use arbitrarily complex artwork. I’m not sure what type of file format they will support, but I’m thinking postscript or PDF would probably work. It’s UV light tolerant and very long lasting, especially if you put in on the inside of the window (although this technique will show bubbles more readily). If done correctly, it should look better than anything most people could paint. You should save a lot of coin by doing the installation yourself.

I know, it scares the hell out of me, but Himself shakes handfuls of charts and such at me to show me how incredibly cautious they’ve been with their numbers and how hobbyist spend x amount of this and y amount of that… They do plan to specialize in vintage and rare cameras and to repair and teach classes and such, and to emphasize the community aspect, etc. The man is beyond reasoning with.

Has Jackson Camera gone out of business? They used to have a virtual monopoly on that market in Columbia.

Columbia Photo is gone, but that’s because the guy retired this past year - business was good when he closed his doors. I think Jackson Camera is gone. All those chain camera stores are for crap. So he would have a corner on the market - the thing is, what market?

Forgot about Columbia Photo. :smack:

Yeah, if their business was still good, there should still be demand. You’ve got lots of retirees around there, and those folks sometimes prefer the old ways of doing things, so there’s that market. The biggest marketing challenge he’s going to have is that Columbia is so isolated from all the other markets around it (this is also what makes it such an excellent test market, btw). Make sure he’s thinking of expanding his advertising out to at least Charlotte to the north and Augusta/Savannah to the west.

He’s also hoping to gather the hipster market with vintage stuff - he really lucked out with location, the place is between Hipwazee and El Burrito. :slight_smile: I just don’t know if I can stand to look at too many pale young men wearing their girlfriends’ jeans.


I’ll be sure to pay a visit next time I’m down with time to kill.

Zsofia, I’d do it just for the fun. I mean, I’d do it. Not necessarily everyone thinks this way.

A photo shop, and your boyfriend can’t arrange for some decent old-glue-dissolving solvents?! Dichloromethane is cheap, fairly noncarcinogenic, and works great!

Most importantly: why don’t you simply* paint* the needed logo? Or get someone who knows calligraphy to do so? Computer-Age wimps…:wink:

'Cause it’s a photography shop, not a painting shop? :slight_smile: I mean, if they weren’t Computer Age wimps one imagines they’d be selling wooden panels and lapis, right? Nobody has the necessary lettering skills, that’s for sure. I imagine those are getting pretty rare these days in general.

Honestly, yeah, I want to do it for the hell of it. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen - I spend some time and a little money on paint and it looks like shit. So I scrape it off and they get a vinyl sign. I just wish the Internet wasn’t so… silent on the whole concept.

I’ve done some amateur signwriting - although never on glass.

It’s harder than it looks - and especially hard to get sharp edges to anything - what I always do now is to draw the outline with a good quality black marker, then infill with paint, then go over with a marker again to sharpen up the inner edge of the infill.

That won’t work on glass, of course - in fact (and this might be obvious) if you’re painting on the inside to be viewed from the outside, you need to remember that whatever you lay down first, is going to be what is ‘on top’ in the final work.

If it’s just lettering in a large font that you’re trying to create, I would approach it like this (remembering that this is my amateur, probably slipshod way of things):
–Print the individual letters out on paper in the size you want them and cut them out neatly
–Affix them to the inside of the window with sticky-tack, double sided tape, or (maybe best) spray adhesive (applied to the paper, not the window)
–Paint, as neatly as possible, a dark line around the perimeter of each letter (the paper letter should prevent any accidental overpainting into the letter shape itself)
–When the paint is dry, peel off the paper letters and clean up any glue residues.
–If necessary, clean up any minor outline blemishes with a razor blade
–Paint in the insides of the letters in a light colour - several thin coats might be better than one thick one.

I haven’t a clue what kind of paint would be best.

Okay, here’s a preliminary logo. (Well, it’s the final logo, but obviously some alterations may need to be made for a window sign.) My thinking is, we change the type color to white for visibility. The interior of the “F” will be a color (the gray is a placeholder) and he says "Company colors will be a burnt reddish orange, an avocado green, a saturated medium blue and earth tones. " So we’ll have to pick something nice to go inside the F that fits the branding - I think it will be the orangey red.

Additionally, some of their materials have that “F-Stop” logo and then in script “camera shop and darkroom” below. It would be quite useful to have that information on the window, since, you know, people are dumb, but I imagine that lettering would be especially difficult.

Third, I see it being easier to make the outlined “F” neatly painting from the inside, but I think the window tint will force me to paint on the outside. This sucks.

Yeek. If you paint it on the outside, it’s going to get tatty really fast, isn’t it?

What kind of tint does the window have (and are you sure it isn’t just a tinted film applied to the inside?)

I assume it’s some kind of film. Not sure we want to take it off - the building doesn’t have central air, just window units stuck in holes in the wall. The tint might be helping, you know?

What colour is the tint? if it’s a neutral grey, you might be able to apply carefully-calculated bright colours to the inside and still have them look like the more muted tones your design calls for. I just think that painted on the outside, it’s going to last a week before some kid scrapes some of it off

I’m concerned about visibility - it’s going to be the only sign, and we want it to be really, really readable.

Also, if I painted over tint on the inside, how would I fix mistakes? I couldn’t use a razor, right?

Jackson Camera was bought out by Ritz camera years ago when Mr. Jackson retired. That was where I took all my business. However, their prices weren’t competitive with the big chain photo finishers. Their guys/gals looked at every single frame exposure, and made what color/exposure adjustments they could so that it came out right the first time. However, that came at a price, and most people just want the pictures fast and are willing to abide imperfections. Add to that the increasing bit that the digital market was taking and Mr. Jackson probably saw where things were headed anyway.

Then Wolf and Ritz merged, and there was a lot of consolidation. I don’t think any of the old Jackson sites are still in business under any name.

Then I started taking my stuff to Columbia Photo, whose staff also paid the same attention to detail. My heart sank when I saw they had closed. I still have a roll of exposed film from one of my trips that I can’t have processed in this town.

Psst! Zsofia. . . does your guy do infrared?

Holy crap! A customer!

This thread reminds me of the old movies where they show sign painters putting new names on glass office windows. In the painters’ hands are always dowel sticks with little balls on the end. The function of which always eluded me.