Articles from the Boston Compass, Arts & Culture, Compass Ketchup

Compass Ketchup: Best Dressed Signs

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While artisan trades have become trendy of late, MEREDITH KASABIAN and JOSH LUKE have found their own unique niche in this market. How often do you take note of the signs hung outside your favorite coffee shop, local bar or tattoo parlor? If the sign was created by BEST DRESSED SIGNS, it’s safe to say it would be pretty hard to miss. Their iconic signs, with vintage Victorian-inspired fonts, colors that pop, and lettering hand-painted with a flourish, have been showing up all over the Greater Boston area for the past five years.

The two-person operation moved to Boston in 2010. Luke is a visual artist and the sign painter. “Josh grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco and was entrenched in graffiti/skateboarding culture from a young age,” Kasabian explains. With a degree in painting from UC Santa Cruz followed by a long stint at San Francisco’s New Bohemia Signs, his career choice is the perfect combination of personal interests and natural talent. Meredith is a writer with an interest in art history and material culture. She takes care of the administrative side of the business, while also researching the long legacy of their craft. Kasabian attributes the success of Best Dressed Signs to their differing roles. “I think what makes it work is that our interests overlap while maintaining a clear division,” she says.

Take a stroll around the city and you’ll see their touch in just about every neighborhood: Monica’s Mercato in the North End, Goorin Bros’ Hat Shop in Harvard Square, and The Painted Burro in Somerville. You might even start to pick out their gold-leaf address numbers gilding the front-door windows along your street.

One of their favorite projects to date is the Kingsboro Park mural in Jamaica Plain. Commissioned by Michael Dupuy, owner of Streetcar Wine & Beer, the bright red and yellow mural adorns the brick wall outside his store. “The layout of the mural is inspired by a 19th-century color-printing technology called chromolithography,” Kasabian explains. “As a whole, the mural celebrates public art as a medium that’s available to all and uses the history of technological advances in printing and music to make that point.”

 

 Best_Dressed_Signs_JP_mural

The same sentiment lies behind Kasabian and Luke’s side project, the Pre-Vinylite Society. The PVS blog collects articles and essays about sign painting, murals, public art—anything that might affect and improve our urban landscapes. Essentially the goal is to encourage communities to “take pride in their neighborhoods by creating, commissioning, writing about, and appreciating quality signage and art.”

In addition to painting commissioned signs for local businesses and founding the PVS, Josh and Meredith (somehow) find time to work on their own art. Josh regularly exhibits his personal work in spaces like the BU Art Gallery, Lincoln Arts Project in Waltham, and JP’s Hallway Gallery. Meredith is currently at work curating an exhibit that references the first-ever exhibition of painted signs that took place in 18th-century London.

You’ll also be seeing a new mural from the pair pop up sometime this spring alongside the Mission Hill Main Streets building, right across from the Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. “It’s the perfect location for a mural,” says Kasabian, “and we’re excited for the opportunity to contribute to this already beautiful street.”

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