"Sign Painters" is a Visual Portrait of an American Tradition

Faythe Levine and Sam Macon's "Sign Painters" is the kind of book you buy as a present for someone else because it looks cool and then can't part with yourself.

The photographs are what draw you in first, of old school sign painters and their work.

There's Ernie Gosnell's cartoonish devil head with a blue pompadour, floating over the words "No Drunks, No Assholes." (Gosnell himself is a spectacle -- he wears a plaid pork pie hat atop his long gray hair and his ringed hands are both illustrated with intricate tattoos.) And Roderick Laine Treece's luxurious gold-gilded glass signs, announcing "United Cigar Stores" and "Colt Firearms Company."

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