ABOUT THE KING OF PAINT
Hi, I’m Jeff Williams and I am a sign painter.
What’s a sign painter?! Over the years, I’ve had to explain my craft to a lot of people. What was historically a common and indispensable trade was once nearly wiped out by the advent of computerized sign-making equipment. For 37 years, I have been preserving the lost art of hand-lettering, pinstriping, and gold leaf gilding as traditional sign painters practiced for decades before me. Using the brush as my vehicle, I channel my vision and imagination into design and advertisement, creating eye-catching signage, custom paint jobs, and unique works of art.
I have been working as a professional sign painter since 1981, when I bought my first shop in Waukegan, IL. The building had been a sign shop back in the 1930s and the place radiated with an ethereal artistic vibe. My career began in that old building, but my magnetism toward the brush began years before when, as a child, I would paint flames on my model cars using my mom’s nail polish. I’ve been drawn to this art form my whole life, and I’m proud to be one of the few men and women left who works to preserve this unique craft. In this technology-driven world, I’m honored to still call myself a traditional sign painter.
I work with commercial businesses and companies, helping them to brand and advertise in a style that stands out from the competition. For those customers who bring me their cars, hot rods, motorcycles, furniture, mailboxes, —you name it—I letter, flame, pinstripe, and paint characters and designs of all sorts on anything that doesn’t move!
I have painted in cities across the United States, in England, Scotland, Finland and the Netherlands. Each year, I work with the Pinstripe Legends of Milwaukee and the Chicago Brushmasters to make art that is auctioned off in order to raise money for local charities. My artwork has been featured in a number of publications including the Art Institute of Chicago’s f Newsmagazine, SignCraft Magazine, H.O.G. Magazine (Harley), Bulldog Magazine (Mack Trucks), Chicago Reader, Rod & Kulture Magazine, Letterheads Magazine, and more. I was also featured in the documentary film Sign Painters (2014), directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon. I have spoken at the Society of Typographical Arts and in schools across the Midwest. I’ve taught workshops at Chicago Airbrush and offer workshops throughout the year at my sign shop in St. Francis, WI.