Artist Todd Sanders has found his niche.
For almost 20 years the Austin-based artist has been making new neon signs that look decades old. Sanders knowledge of typography, style, and craftsmanship of vintage signs is uniquely self-taught. He travels American highways taking photos of antique road signs and other roadside oddities for inspiration. Each painstaking step – from sketching, to creating the metal, neon and paint patterns, to custom weathering and patina – creates a unique work of art that pays homage to the past without sacrificing modern sensibilities. With no more than 2 assistants, Todd can make about 6 to 7 signs a week. That’s a lot of signs.
“Fireflys in a Jar” was a custom piece for Miranda Lambert. Can’t tell, but the fireflies flicker at different intervals.
My personal favorite is this Indian Motorcycles sign. Of course it is.
Todd describes it as a tour de force of all his sign making skills.
Just look at the detail of the hand-pressed Indian head. All those little cracks and chipped paint are meticulously created to give each piece a sense of age.
(photos via Dan Winters)
A little bit of weathering is added at a time, in a layered fashion, just as it would be if it were a 50-year-old sign found on the side of the road. This technique is taken on the sign as a whole and also to every piece of hardware included on it. Sander’s strives to produce work that appears untouched, “If I do my job right, I don’t get any credit for it”, he says.
You can view more of Sander’s work, purchase your own neon sign or art prints of earlier pieces, and even learn more about his process on the Roadhouse Relics page.
Even better, next time that you’re in Austin, Texas, stop buy the workshop (a converted fruit stand) and see these beauties for yourself.
You know that we will.
Love this. I have a passion for vintage road signs. And, Todd’s signs are beautiful. I’ve seen them before, but never knew the full story. Will definitely stop un on my next trip to Austin!
Keith, I’d seen his signs before as well…..the fireflies and Big Tex….but never connected them to an artist. When I found that Indian Motorcycles Sign, I screamed like a girl, and put it all together. LOVE his work!!! LOVE!
Only in Austin? Right?
I agree! The Indian Motorcycle sign is amazing. I also kind of like the car with trailer (for some reason). Very cool that someone is using neon as their medium. Love it! Thanks for the post!! (I’m assuming this is the one you lost yesterday.)
I have about 30 drafts of different posts going at all times, varying states of incomplete. Yesterday’s lost post was for October, on Halloween movies…..Had to rewrite the whole thing (sad face)
This post really fascinated me.
I’m a fan!
My plans include making Austin pillows a.s.a.p.
I wonder if he sells other goodies, besides neon, in his gallery.
Road trip! (My sister lives in Austin + teaches at UT!)
I sent her a link to this post + asked if she’d ever drive past.
TY for another excellent post!
Thanks Kay! I’d seen his work before, never knew it was the same artist though. Austin is full of awesome artists! Glad that you like him .
LOL — I just read the other comments + spied “screamed like a girl”!
Screamed like a schoolgirl is funny, too. Feel free to borrow. Good X’s.
K A Y
I would like to buy this Indian sign let me know how Much it cost …. thank you!
Hi Kevin, isn’t that sign just great? I wish I knew how much it cost, I’m sure it’s way out of my comfortable price range. I’m pretty sure he does custom work. You should probably check with Todd.
Is the deep eddy sign still available?
You’d have to check with Roadhouse Relics. I’m pretty sure he makes custom orders.
Hey are you guys selling any of these signs or do you custom make them? I’d love to sell your products on our own site at https://winmarkstampandsign.com if you have or offer any partner programs. Have you thoughts about light up safety signs with covid right now, this would be interesting to approach? Thanks!