Designers at work: Ralph Toews and Sons

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Saturday, August 29th, 2020

When he was about 15, Ralph Toews rode his bike to the sign shop of John Henry Friesen, an outstanding sign painter whose work was featured in SignCraft years later, to find out how truck doors were lettered. John showed him how pounce patterns work, gave him a small can of 1 Shot lettering enamel and a well worn quill. “And my life was changed,” says Ralph, laughing.

Today, Ralph and his sons Randy and Travis have a busy shop, RT Signs, in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. We’ll let Ralph give you an inside look at their work and their approach to design.

From the time I was in grade 8 I had been struggling to learn how to letter. My visit to John Henry’s shop was a real inspiration. At 15, I started working in various jobs. But no matter what job, I offered to do the signs. I went on to become a schoolteacher, which gave me more time to paint signs. The shorter workday plus weekends and summers left more time for signs.


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