Author Archives: Mike Jackson

Mike and Darla Jackson operate Golden Studios in Loveland, Colorado, and do a variety of sign-related projects. Mike’s website is His email address is You can see more of Mike’s photos at and

Upgrade your workbench!

Not long ago I purchased a bench at Home Depot that checked most of the boxes I would have wanted for a good… Read More

Getting the most out of clip art

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, clip art is a noun, defined as this: Ready-made pieces of printed or… Read More

Color ornaments from a century ago: The Modern Sign Writer

I was initially exposed to old sign painting books back in 1982, following my first Letterheads meeting in Boise, Idaho. I saw a… Read More

Vintage car emblems are packed with ideas

If you are ever looking for a little vintage inspiration, take a walk through some of the car shows in your area! Auto… Read More

Borrow some inspiration from these classic horror movie posters

October is the month of monsters, witches, ghouls, goblins and creatures. Whether they came from outer space, out of the caves and caverns,… Read More

12 vintage billboard designs

Scale—that’s probably the biggest difference in the products commonly referred to as early outdoor advertising and what we now think of as commercial… Read More

Howdy, pardner! Step back in time, saddle up and head west!

Vintage movie posters of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s often packed powerful punches of both color and expressive lettering. Westerns were the movie… Read More

A basic approach to selling signs

Training new owners, sales staff and employees led me to evaluate the process of selling a sign. To help them know what to… Read More

Are we charging enough for our work?

 Mike Jackson wrote this article for the September/October 1995 issue of SignCraft—almost 30 years ago. Now retired, Mike and Darla were running a… Read More

The brushstrokes of a ghost sign show the signpainter at work

In most cases, brush strokes do not show up in a newly lettered sign. But over the years, the rays of the sun… Read More

Worth a look: Maker Spaces!

Maker Spaces, Art Labs, and Creator Spaces dot cities across the United States. Those are just a few of the names for facilities… Read More

Wall signs were once a part of every cityscape

In early days, buildings in many of the large cities were made of bricks. Much like the brick house in the children’s story… Read More

Those fine old “ghost signs” are disappearing by the minute

A photographer with a sign background probably sees the world differently than an average photographer. That’s especially true if the photographer likes vintage… Read More

George Seelander’s classic hand drawn sketches

George Seelander prepared hand drawn and tempera painted layouts long before people were even dreaming of using computers for their design work. Sketches… Read More

Accessing a font’s alternate characters

Christopher Latham Sholes invented the first practical typewriter in the late 1860s. While slightly different, today’s computer keyboards were modeled after that same… Read More

Don’t let poor kerning wreck your layout

Select the Text tool, click somewhere on the page to set to location, then type away. Resize the type to fit the space… Read More

Avoid these 10 common sign layout pitfalls

Designers and sign makers who have been in the business long enough can easily recognize work done by newcomers. Why? Either the newbies… Read More

Step-by-step: Complex sign with a tight deadline

This project contains a mixture of basic skills and tools, along with a little help from another sign company and some of today’s… Read More

What’s it cost to make this 24-sq.-ft. sign?

Materials (excluding markup) 4-by-8-ft-by-3⁄4-in. overlaid plywood: $80 Five foam roller covers: $5 Edge sealer: $2 Latex paint for back: $8 Block-out primer: $15… Read More

Video: Using Photoshop to level and crop your sign photos

You want great-looking photos of your great-looking signs on your website, social media and online portfolio, right? In this quick video, Mike Jackson… Read More