New Book Documents 23 Wall Mural Projects

A new book, simply called “The Walldogs Book,” documents 25 events over a 23-year period, in which signpainters have created more than 500 wall murals on brick walls to help commemorate communities’ histories. These artisans, who call themselves the Walldogs, have held annual events every year since 1999. The documentation is complete through 2016.

Most of the book is photos, with a listing of the project leader for every mural. The book was compiled and published by Jay Allen, an original member of the Walldogs Public Art Group, who owns ShawCraft Sign Company (Machesny Park, IL). Allen, who co-chaired the 1997 Walldogmeet (the first Walldog meet was held in 1993 in Allerton, Iowa), also wrote an eight-page introduction about the genesis of the Walldog movement, and why artisans from all over the United States and Canada (which has hosted two Walldog meets) would volunteer their time for such projects. He speaks about signpainter Nancy Bennett, who jumpstarted the Walldog movement.

Bennett, whose hometown is Allerton, recruited approximately two dozen Iowa signpainting artisans (who call themselves the Letterheads) to paint a mural in Allerton. Because of the wall’s exposed tile, the mural started to fade after several years, and plans were made to refurbish it in 1993. The result was the first Walldog meet. (The Letterheads movement began in 1975 with seven sign apprentices in Denver, Colorado, who began sharing time-honored signmaking techniques.)

The 1997 event in Belvidere, Illinois, attracted 350 artisans, who produced 6,000 square feet of murals on 10 walls. Allen notes that the event won the 1997 Governor’s Art Award for Community, which was presented by the Illinois Arts Council, and also first place in a contest hosted by the Illinois Department of Tourism in its Citywide Promotion category. In 2008, Belvidere was declared an Arts Friendly Community by the Illinois Arts Alliance and the Illinois Municipal League.    

The book is available on Amazon.com.

American Sign Museum Featured in New York Times Best Seller Book

Atlas Obsura, a compilation of “over 600 of the most curious and unusual destinations around the globe,” reached #1 on the New York Times best-seller list, even though it was only published in September 2016. It includes places of interest on every continent (yes, even several items from Antarctica!), and it includes a feature on the American Sign Museum, which it describes as “crammed with fiberglass mascots, neon marquees, and hand-painted 19th-century signs advertising cobblers, druggists, and haberdashers.” Available virtually everywhere, the book will soon be in stock at the American Sign Museum. 

FASI Board Member Alan Weinstein To Speak Twice at American Planning Association’s 2017 National Planning Conference

Alan Weinstein, an acknowledged expert on planning, who holds a joint faculty appointment at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and also serves as director of the colleges’ Law & Public Policy Program, will speak at two separate sessions at the 2017 American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in May. Weinstein also serves on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry (FASI) and the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education (AACSRE).   

First, he will join Philip Garvey and Jennie Blanchard (from the Larson Transportation Institute at Penn State University) to present “A Guide to National Sign-Illumination Standards,” which is based on Penn State research. The APA website states, “Learn about new, first-of-their-kind national sign-illumination standards.”

Next, he will join two people who spoke with him at last year’s APA national conference when they again address the monumental SCOTUS decision of Reed vs. City of Gilbert which was unanimously determined in 2016. Weinstein will be joined by James Carpentier, the Manager of State & Local Government Affairs for the International Sign Association (ISA), who will moderate the session, and Wendy Moeller, a board member of The Signage Foundation. The session is titled “What Do We Do Post-Reed?” and the APA website states “The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert created numerous sign-regulation issues for communities. Learn about the impact of the landmark case from experts who will review the decision, examine how subsequent federal and state court decisions have applied it, investigate how several jurisdictions have responded to it, and discuss common concerns with regard to it.”

To read Professor Weinstein’s report on the 2016 APA session on Reed vs. City of Gilbert, go to http://www.fasi.org/news/2016/7/26/reed-v-gilbert-session-at-apa-convention-attract-500-people?rq=weinstein.

FASI Executive Director Wade Swormstedt Helps Judge Sign Contest

Wade Swormstedt, the Executive Director of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry (FASI) was one of four judges who helped determine the winners in the annual sign-design contest sponsored by Signs of the Times & Screen Printing en Espanol (SSEN) magazine. The winners will appear in the upcoming December/January issue of SSEN. Over the past three decades, Swormstedt has served as a judge in numerous sign contests for the Industrial Fabrics Association (IFAI), MACtac Graphic Products, the International Sign Association (ISA) and Signs of the Times magazine. When the SSEN issue is published, it can also be viewed online at www.graficosdehoy.com.  

“10 Digital Signage Topics You Need to Know Before Buying” is Released

A guide, entitled “10 Digital Signage Topics You Need to Know Before Buying – The Complete Guide,” has been released by Agosto, Inc, a content-management-system (CMS) developer. Companies such as NEC, Intel, Best Buy for Business and Fastsigns participated in the creation of the guide. Each of the topics has its own chapter. They are:

The History of Digital Signage

Digital Signage Benefits and ROI

The 10 Biggest Digital Signage Challenges

Digital Signage Software

Digital Signage Hardware

Cloud-based Digital Signage

Google Chrome for Digital Signage

Content for Digital Displays

Installing and Rolling out a Digital Display

Digital Signage Trends

The entire guide can be downloaded free of charge at https://www.skykit.com/digital-signage-guide/

American Sign Museum Expands CoSIgn Program Nationwide

The American Sign Museum (ASM), Cincinnati, has announced that its CoSign community-revitalization program, which partners local business owners with artists and sign companies to create new signage, is being replicated in in six cities nationwide, announced Tod Swormstedt, Executive Director of the ASM.

ASM first introduced the program in 2012 in Cincinnati’s Northside community, in which 10 businesses received free signs while working with a designer and fabricator.

Funding came from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, as well as an ArtPlace grant. A second iteration of CoSign occurred across the Ohio River in Covington, KY in 2013. That program was additionally supported by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The ArtPlace grant included the creation of a “toolkit,” so CoSign could be replicated elsewhere.

The six communities and the local sponsoring organizations are:

  • Alachua (FL) Chamber of Commerce for its downtown historic district.

  • The ArtPop Street Gallery for the Community Arts Organization in Charlotte, NC

  • Downtown Evanston, IL

  • The Historic Valley Junction Foundation in West Des Moines, IA

  • The Iowa City Downtown District

  • Uptown United Community Economic Development Organization (Chicago)

Two-day workshop for the groups will be held at the ASM in February 2017. The 6-7-month CoSign process will commence in March, with the ultimate unveiling of 10-12 signs in each community.

The 10 signs from the Northside CoSign program can be viewed online at https://visualingual.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/cosign-signage-in-cincinnatis-northside/

For more information, contact Tod Swormstedt at (513) 701-2183 or tod@americansignmuseum.org.

FASI Awards First Collegiate Scholarship to Michigan State Student

The Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry (FASI) has awarded the first of what it hopes will be numerous scholarships to collegiate members of the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education (AACSRE). Stephanie Onwenu, a junior in the Landscape Architecture program in the School of Planning, Design and Construction, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University (MSU), has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

Dr. Pat Crawford, Associate Director of Planning Design & Construction at MSU stated, “Stephanie is part of the research team exploring perceptions of on-premise signage in urban streetscape environments using the IBM VAS software. She will also be exploring, first hand, urban signage in Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy during her study abroad in March and April 2017.”

In a letter to FASI, Stephanie wrote, “This opportunity will allow me to compare and contrast the various ways and forms that signage is manipulated around the world. Following on into the next school year, I plan to begin my Masters in Environmental Design [MED] graduate courses through the dual-degree program here at MSU. For my area of study, I plan to include an element of focus on signage in urban designed spaces.”

Wade Swormstedt, FASI’s executive director, said, “FASI is very proud to assist in the education of college students with an interest in signage. FASI hopes to announce many more of these scholarships throughout the year. FASI believes such scholarships support the groundwork laid by the National Signage Research & Education Conferences [NSREC] sponsored by The Signage Foundation.”

FASI (www.fasi.org) is dedicated to serving as a resource for the on-premise sign industry, and a clearinghouse of information for and about on-premise signs. FASI strives to proclaim the societal benefits of on-premise signage, and to support the efforts of on-premise sign organizations, including associations, universities, trade publications and end-user groups. 

FASI Board Member Duane Laska Honored with Maury Ely Award

Duane Laska, who serves on the FASI Board of Directors as treasurer, has been honored with the Illinois Sign Assn.’s Maury Ely Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor which his late father, Vic, was given in 1987. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made meaningful and meritorious contributions to both the association and the industry.

Laska is the president/owner of North Shore Sign Co. (Libertyville, IL), and he has also served Libertyville with two terms as its mayor. Laska’s extensive service to the sign industry includes having served the International Sign Association as its chairman in 2012 and on its Executive Committee for four years.

He is currently serving as chairman of The Signage Foundation Inc. He has also served the research organization as chairman of the program committee and chairman of the planning committee for the annual National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC). Laska initiated and championed the Foundation’s internship program and sponsored the first internship in 2010. He has also served in leadership positions with World Sign Associates (WSA).

“Duane is a man of consummate integrity and dedication to the sign industry,” said Wade Swormstedt, FASI’s Executive Director. “I’ve watched how Duane conducts himself when organizational conflicts arise, and I’ve always been impressed by his common sense and grace under pressure. More recently, I’ve been honored to have the opportunity to work directly with him.”

FASI Executive Director Wade Swormstedt Named AACSRE “Friend”

FASI Executive Director Wade Swormstedt has been named a “Friend of AACSRE” (The Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education). The AACSRE Board of Directors includes 13 representatives from its university members. In addition, AACSRE appoints “Friends” to serve in an advisory capacity.

In a press release, AACSRE stated, “With the interdisciplinary nature of the field of signage study, AACSRE often looks to professional knowledge leaders for inspiration relating to emerging issues and ‘hot topics’. Given the importance of this knowledge, as well as the interest of these professionals in engaging, AACSRE created a special category of membership. These individuals, recruited in the same fashion as their academic counterparts, are identified by the Executive Board and, after consideration by the full membership, are invited to become a Friend of AACSRE. Wade Swormstedt and researcher Jennifer Klena have been appointed as Friends, and both participated in the Fall 2016 AACSRE Board meeting held October 13 at Gemini Inc. (Cannon Falls, MN).”