Sign Painters of Pernambuco — Ten Years Later

Fátima Finizola reflects on her work profiling the sign painters in Pernambuco, Brazil.

Man crouching in front of a white wall, painting black lettering onto a mural sign.
Sign painter Josué Carioca at work in Afogados, Recife, 2013.

In 2013, I did a book swap with Fátima Finizola in Brazil: I sent her a copy of Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie and, in return, she sent me a signed copy of Abridores de Letras de Pernambuco [Sign Painters of Pernambuco].

Ten years later, Fátima has written the following piece about her research journey, including her reflections on book's impact and the changes she's observed in the realm of sign painting since it was published.

Sign Painters of Pernambuco — Ten Years Later

By Fátima Finizola

Pernambuco is a state located in the north-east of Brazil, with its capital, Recife, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast. Like most urban centres in Brazil, hand-painted signs make a rich contribution to the visual landscape of Pernambuco's most populous cities.

Hand-painted lettering in white, yellow, and red on a blue metal structure.
Commercial stall photographed near Casa Amarela Market, Recife, 2009.

However, since the end of the twentieth century, the rise of digital printing technology has impacted the lives of the local sign painters, whose hand-crafted work has been progressively replaced by these machines. (This is, of course, a global phenomenon.) This was the motivation behind the creation of the Abridores de Letras de Pernambuco [Sign Painters of Pernambuco] research project.

Urban Vernacular Typography