About Signsmith

Studio portrait of Patrick Smith and his tools

Patrick Smith – a study of the sign painter and his tools

I’ve been an old school sign painter since 1972. I specialize in hand lettering, pictorial art and gilded signs. These include antique sign restoration and reproduction, murals and dioramas, custom banners, custom house and ranch signs, trucks and sandblasted signs. Before going to work for the Disneyland Sign Shop, where I was the Senior Sign Painter for 7 years, I was self-employed for 30 years. My education is in architectural drafting and I have a degree in the sign arts from International Correspondence Schools. I’ve been featured in Sign of the Times and Sign Craft Magazine and recently in the Local Talent section of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review. I’ve been a Letterhead since 1985.

Patrick Smith in Vietnam learning his trade

Patrick Smith started learning his craft while serving in Vietnam

I first started painting signs in Vietnam. I was an Infantry Mortarman on temporary hold at a replacement depot in Cam Rahn Bay. I was assigned to do electrical contracting and was part of a 30-man engineering group who were made up of infantry soldiers. When my superiors discovered I could letter and do artwork the sign shop was born.

When I returned home I went back to work as a draftsman, supporting my wife and myself. One day a gentleman from ICS knocked on my door and showed me what his school had to offer. I was entitled to the G.I. Bill and discovered that there was a class in sign painting. I had no idea that it was a viable trade. I started the two and a half year course and all of a sudden I saw signs everywhere.

Patrick smith and Aaron prepare to install a new sign

Patrick Smith and Aaron Smith preparing to install a newly completed sign

Kenny Nair gave me my first job at his Sign Co. in Whittier, California. During this time my son and daughter were born and being a new father gave me the inspiration to become self-employed and to pursue my trade as a sign painter. I quit my job in aerospace and went from there. I had a friend named Jim Johnson who was a big influence. He had been a sign painter at one time and was a show card artist. He was the first guy I saw do this form of sign writing. I love show card writing. I did many over the years and did most of the show cards while I was at the Disneyland Sign Shop.

Patrick Smith using a mahl stick on a project

Patrick Smith using a mahl stick on a project during his tenure at Disneyland

In 1974 I moved to La Habra, California and had a shop there for three years. I moved to Anaheim in 1981 and was there for 10 years. Eventually, I settled in Rancho Cucamonga for about eight years. I was told of an opening at the Disneyland Sign Shop in 2000 and went to work there until 2007. Today I work out of my house here in the City of Orange, California.

I’m very fortunate in that I’ve learned to design with CorelDraw X6 and still letter with the brush as the jobs permit. If I can be of assistance please give me a call.