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.