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In response to my “Lost Knowledge” column on sign painting (aka signwriting), one of our readers, peterman921, himself a signwriter from Southern, Oregon, sent us links to some YouTube videos of the craft. The one above is by Alicia Jennings, aka monkeysign123 on YouTube, a big rig ‘striper and signwriter from the Great Northwest. This video of her painting on glass, viewed from the opposite side, so perfectly captures my childhood experience of seeing a signwriter at work while getting my hair cut, as recounted in my piece.

Monkeysign123′s YouTube Channel


Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.



  1. Daniel T says:

    She’s amazing, I wish I had her talent. I’m glad she shared the tools of the trade, I learned something new with the mahl stick suggestion, clever idea. I just love how she constructs each letter, even though you can guess what it is… there’s still that sense of anticipation as it all comes together!

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      I find it mesmerizing to watch, just like when I was a kid. The surety of the hand is what gets me every time, whenever I see any craftsperson and a skill that’s obviously come from doing the same thing over and over and over again. There’s something very noble in that. But as profound as that struck me, even as a kid, I also remember thinking how dull it must be, doing the same thing over and over again. I’ve struggled with this duality my entire life: being attracted to obsessive levels of craft, but having mild ADD at the same time.