Profile: Signs that real art still exists

PHUKET: Despite new technology and graphic design paving the way for creative printing reaching the masses, the art of hand-making signs is still alive and well.

Pete Child, 59, from Atherstone, England, is a Phuket expat who has been keeping this art form alive since 1975.

After moving to the island eight years ago with his sharp skills and handmade retro chalk designs, Mr Child is now bringing the art of sign writing back.

“I started as a sign writer when I was 19, before computer graphics came out. Hand painting required a five-year training program.

“It was difficult when computer graphics came out. For traditional sign writers, computer graphics took over our job because everybody could do it.”

Though technology has become part of everyday life, people still long for the times of old, when art was created with passion.

“After graphic design had been out for awhile, a lot of people wanted to go back to authentic work; the original work, to keep the charm. People like to put character into their signs and I like using chalk because it gives it a unique character.

“In my hometown of Atherstone, England, sign writing is very popular, even now. People like to put character in their artwork, so the style from decades ago has still not changed and is not considered outdated because each is very much an individual style.”

He knew that moving to Phuket would initially yield little-to-no work opportunities, but after pushing to make his work recognized, it became more popular.

“I come from a small village in England where everybody knows each other, and Phuket has a similar atmosphere.

“As it is a small island, it’s quite difficult to get a job here in this business. Over the past two years, I have been trying to encourage people to recognize my work and it is getting more popular in Phuket, as well as in Bangkok, especially among the hotel and bar industry.

“So far, I have had many customers such as Iniala, Angsana Laguna Phuket, DoubleTree Resort, DusitD2 Phuket, FourPoints Bangkok, Bampot Kitchen & Bar, Peppers Sports Bar, and so on.”

When asked which piece of art was his best, Mr Child couldn’t choose.

“Every piece of work is my favorite, as I treat all customers the same.”

However, there is one memorable moment he will never forget.

“I was writing a sign on a horse box at Windsor Great Park in 1995 with Prince Philip watching me work.”

After 40 years of work as an artist, Mr Child has not lost his passion for the art, in fact, he is always happy and excited to see the outcome of each piece.

“I like to get satisfaction from my work. It is very important that when you do something, you can come back time and time again and be proud of yourself.

“It’s a lot like being a chef; you create delicious dishes, or like an architect, you create a building. And when the work is done, you can look back and say, ‘I created that; it looks nice’.”

— Nattha Thepbamrung

Thai Life

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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