Man with a Brush

Man with a Brush

Supported by NOWNESS

Mike Meyer discovered sign painting as a free-spirited youngster and never wanted to do anything else. Despite the art-form fading from the mainstream, his untamed passion and willingness to go all the way have taken him on an unlikely journey from small-town maverick to globetrotting guru.

Once commonplace, particularly in the USA where modern branding was born, sign painting was by nature a folk art rather than a fine art. Its practitioners were blue-collar craftsmen, more akin to carpenters than sculptors. The required skills could take years to master and so a strong tradition of apprenticeship and tutelage developed. The introduction of mechanised vinyl printing in the 1980s marked a decline in the sign painting industry and over the course of two decades the craft became a niche art form. The industry was rendered almost extinct but a few dedicated practitioners continued to pursue the craft regardless. Mike was one of those, having taken up sign painting as a kid during the heyday of painted advertising, he saw it through the decline and on to where it is today.

We met Mike whilst working on a project in London and knew immediately that we had to make a film about him. With support from Nowness and Better Letters, we spent three weeks shooting with Mike, travelling from his hometown of Mazeppa, Minnesota, across the USA to Idaho, Washington and California.