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Recent work: Birdwell Beach Britches event vehicle

Sign painting skills got Big City Signs onto the radar of this Orange County, CA, based surf and beach wear company. They have been around since the 1960’s providing great products for their loyal customers.

The 60’s was the look and feel they chose, logically, for their event vehicle. It started out life as a fire department support truck, but was purchased recently as a great way to get their name, products, and samples out to beachside events.

In the 1960’s, signs were hand-painted. So, rather than have the almost too-perfect computer generated look to the graphics on the truck they contacted Big City Signs to paint graphics onto it. Here are some notes about the project.

First up: the design gets simplified into outline form so it can be drawn out on the computer plotter. That technology has been a huge improvement over the way things were done in the 60’s — back then, a design would be either carefully scaled up by eye or projected onto paper at the final size and traced.


Next, the plotted pen lines are traced with an electric pounce tool. This little electric timesaver creates a circuit through the pen and the steel backing behind the paper that’s grounded through the tool’s control box. “Pounce” is a sign painter’s name for the system of transferring the design that’s perforated along the lines by pushing charcoal or talcum powder through the holes when the design is placed where it will be painted.


At the job site, the vehicle is scuffed lightly in the areas graphics will go to make sure the paint sticks. This breaks through hard automotive clear coats, etc.

Then, the vehicle is carefully and thoroughly cleaned of grease and dust, and the paper design patterns placed and pounced onto the vehicle.


On this vehicle, there was a white panel which got the black and red logo painted over. The rectangular panel is taped off and the white is rolled on with a foam roller. A little work goes into smoothing out the paint, and it’s left to dry in peace while other parts of the vehicle get the sign painter’s attention.

And here’s the result. White dotted lines, to look like Birdwell’s trademark contrasting stitching are painted on, tying the entire vehicle together.

The Bird with
Here’s another photo, from the opposite side.

The Bird with

And finally, a photo of Mr. Big City, “hard at work”:
A rare photo of Mr. Big City working.

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