You've seen some of the work of Kimberley Edwards "The Window Goddess" in our last Photo of the Week entry--now hear our interview in which she talks about her struggles, inspirations, and the art of sign painting.
To further understand her work and her philosophy, we asked her a few more questions, answers to which can be read below.
1. Why did you become a sign painter?
I've always been an artist, with a lot of training over the years, but I had not found my niche or voice or whatever. One day I saw somebody painting this amazing window splash--and he was really getting into it--and I thought "I could do that." That was about 2003, and I was getting a strong hunch that our economy over the long run was just not viable, that I needed to find a way to make money by my wits. I was employed at a printing company at the time, but I was becoming aware that I should not rely upon an employer for my livelihood.
I had the inspiration for the name for my business--The Window Goddess--before I even had a business. My plan was for a low tech, low overhead way to make a living doing something that people had a need for and that not many people could do, and that would utilize my creativity. I'm not anti-technology by any means and use it in my work regularly, but I felt like I needed to be able to do something where I wasn't dependent upon it in the event I had to do without it.
2. How much creativity is allowed in commercial sign painting?
It runs a gamut, from being something very cut and dried that somebody hands you and says "I want this in black gothic letters right there," to being given free reign to do whatever I can come up with so long as it "pops" - which is my favorite scenario. Sometimes people show me 50 feet of storefront and say "there's your canvas- go for it." That's when I start experimenting, doing things I've always wanted to try, pulling out all sorts of letter styles, color palettes.
Even jobs that look pretty straightforward and uncreative can really tax your creatively in other ways. I recently had somebody who wanted their logo painted about 10 feet high and 8 feet wide, but it was an extremely crisp, straight line image. But the wall was curved, like the inside of a cylinder. I had to figure out how to transfer that very crisp image onto that surface. The creativity went into figuring out how to do a simple but unforgiving image perfectly rather than executing a creative image.
3. What is your most memorable project and why?
I was doing a job at a medical marijuana dispensary, and they were having a problem with a neighbor who was trying to take over their space. He was a real red zone aggression case--he came out and physically threatened me. I told the woman who hired me, that's it, he's your problem, I'm outta here. She called me back the next day, offered me considerably more money, and told me they had gotten protection for me. They had hired a body guard to stand around me while I painted, and another one across the street to keep an eye on the big picture. I never felt so secure in my life. The guy across the street even radioed across to tell me that I had misspelled something - and he was right. Nice to have a body guard who doubles as a proof reader.
4. How do you feel when you see your own work around the city?
I love it. I feel like I'm creatively putting my mark on this space and time, and that some of it might be around decades from now, be appreciated as a beautiful old sign from back in the day. And I love it when people see me painting, and they walk up and say "are you the Window Goddess?" People walk up and say "wow, your stuff is awesome--I've seen it around town." You don't realize people are noticing, taking the trouble to look for your name, remember your name, but some of them are.
5. If you could tell someone to check out one sign that isn't your own, what would it be and why?
I can't pick just one. I'd tell them to go online and go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/richtersigns/ He has put together a really beautiful collection of his favorites. They could see great examples old and new painted signs, ghost signs still visible on old brick buildings. They would gradually become aware of the gems created with craft and care, which would start to glimmer at them through many of the uninspired din found all around. They might even become obsessed with it.
See photos of Kimberley's works here.
Sign Painter Interviews:
Full Dollar Collection of Contemporary Art is an initiative that aims to reconsider the tradition of public art through a collaboration between artists, sign painters, and business owners.
The Full Dollar Collection of Contemporary Art is developed through a partnership between:
- A Los Angeles Primer
- Arrival Stories
- Block by Block
- Engaging Spaces
- Green Justice
- I Am Los Angeles