If you’ve taken the elevators on the west side of the building up to the VCS Department this semester, I’m sure you’ve noticed the new gilded sign that’s hanging in the hallway next to room 404C. It was created by sign painter and letterer Kurt McRobert, who graduated from SVA’s BFA Illustration Program in 2009, and was also a member of the Honors Program. I asked Kurt for some information about its creation, and he sent along the following explanation of the process:
The lettering style is based on a common West Coast casual lettering style developed by sign painters in the mid-20th century. It’s still very widely used today. Everything on the sign is hand painted in reverse on the back side of the glass.
I used a water gilding technique to apply 23kt gold to the glass. A small amount of gelatin is dissolved in water and brushed on the glass in running sheets. While the “size” is still wet the gold leaf is applied and allowed to dry. The letters are then painted in reverse (backwards) with a mixture of enamel paint and varnish. This process is called “backing up the gold” which seals the gold onto the glass. After the back up paint is dry the excess gold is cleaned off, revealing the lettering that was painted with the back up paint. Then the shadows and background were painted in.
Kurt has done a bunch of other projects in the area, including signage, murals, and lettering for a wide range of local businesses. He was kind enough to allow me to post images of some of that work below; you can see a lot more at his Instagram (@veryfinesigns) and website (veryfinesigns.com).