FontCast #12 — Damon Styer of New Bohemia Signs

Living and working in San Francisco,’s hometown, one is immediately aware of hand-painted signs — whether it’s the colorful Spanish-language brushwork of the Mission District or the mid-century marquees, liquor stores, and florists of the East and South Bay. There was a time when every sign was made by hand, and most of them were painted. Now, in an era of computers and vinyl, the craft is sadly rare. Fortunately there are still a few bright spots, like New Bohemia Signs, where the tradition is carried on to create new markers for the next generation of city dwellers.

We visited proprietor Damon Styer at his shop on 11th in SOMA and followed him to a job up the street. Later we sat down at Adobe Bookshop in the Mission where New Bohemia was hanging their first show. Damon describes the “muscle memory” that drives such quick and legible, yet beautifully imperfect work.

Click here to watch the FontCast or simply push play below.

While digital type is often considered antithetical to signs made by hand, New Bohemia’s designs show how fonts can be a model for hand-painted letters, just as hand-painted letters inspired many fonts. Here are just a few examples.

FontCast is FontShop’s video podcast featuring the most interesting figures in typography and design. Subscribe in iTunes or watch individual episodes on Vimeo and YouTube.

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. that was awesome

    Posted by Joe on Apr. 26, 2010
  2. The man’s a genius! The speed and precision with which he works is impressive. It may be described as beautifully imperfect, but it is perfecter than anything I can do!

    Posted by John A. Styer on Apr. 27, 2010
  3. That’s awesome! An almost lost art work brought back to life. It is really amazing the diversity and creativity of the signs made. From the video clip it looks like no two signs are too much alike. Keep up the great work!

    Posted by San Francisco Signs on Jan. 30, 2012

Post a comment:


The FontFeed

The FontFeed is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world. Eat up.

  • Minicomputer
  • Segno™
  • Neutrif Studio
  • Magehand
  • Highest Praise
  • WBP Red Tape
  • YWFT Ink
  • WBP Sight
  • WBP Ripples
  • Slantinel
  • Taglocaps
  • Obstacle
  • YWFT Bitwood
  • Carrot Juice
  • Dragon Spell
  • Platz Grotesk
  • Collect Em All BB
  • New Lanzelott
  • Harajuku Script
  • Honeyguide
  • JT Marnie

Popular Fonts

  • Morl
  • Merlod
  • TT Backwards
  • Heading Pro
  • Proxima Nova
  • Nexa Rust™
  • Rosella™
  • Brandon Grotesque
  • TT Travels
  • Bourton
  • Helvetica Neue®
  • Cenzo Flare
  • Nexa
  • TT Norms
  • Aromatica
  • Gilroy™
  • Selfie
  • Avenir®
  • Moments
  • Viva Beautiful
  • Serendipity