Vintage Hand-Lettered Sign

Good morning! I can’t tell you how deeply excited I am that this day has arrived. I couldn’t wait for it and there were times I wasn’t sure it would become a reality. But it did! I’m literally breathless that it’s here.

What in the world am I so giddy about??

I finished the Pixelgarden Sign!!

Hand-lettered Sign |

For those that are new around here, I started this DIY project almost three (count them, THREE!) years ago with a post about how to distress boards to create a vintage sign. That original post you can read here.

How to make a Distressed Sign |

And then this last January after people asked “whatever happened with the sign?”, I declared that I was determined to get this bad boy finished before the arrival of 2016. The work in progress I shared here.

Hand Lettered Vintage Sign |

And so it’s with great excitement I can finally share that the sign is finished and hanging in its new home.

Custom Painted Sign |

We went through various concepts before coming up with this design for my husband’s graphic design and illustration studio, Pixelgarden.

When we finally landed on a layout, Tyson printed the design and created some color mock ups for me to work from.

Sign Comps |

I borrowed our church projector to transfer the design onto the wood boards with chalk and then I got to the process of painting… and procrastinating. Mostly procrastinating.

Rustic Studio Sign |

Here’s what I learned along the way:

Hand lettering is not perfection – One of the biggest hurdles that I had to overcoming was accepting that there is no room for perfection in hand lettering. If we had wanted perfect we would’ve had the design printed on the wood stained board. But we opted for the sign to be hand painted, which includes human flaws… slight variances in size and weight of each brush stroke to add to it’s handmade, vintage charm.

Hand-painted Pixelgarden Sign |

As I got deeper and deeper into this project the risk of screwing it up became greater and greater. I liked what I had done so far, but what if I botched it before finishing?? This left me not getting it finished at all. Months and months would roll by to avoid failing. Once I embraced that there would be flaws, I was able to move forward quickly.

I like hand lettering – As sick and twisted as it is to spend hours painting with a tiny paint brush, once I got past my anxiety of it not being perfect, I was able to enjoy the process of painting. It’s actually very therapeutic and I’m looking forward to my next (much smaller) project because of it.

Small paint brushes for detail |

Start simply – I’m the worst at choosing the hardest thing possible when I’ve never done something before. I don’t set-out to pick the most challenging of projects… I just get excited and jump in without really thinking through if my skill set matches the scope of what I’m taking on. Hand painting something that required circles and thin straight lines was intimidating. Next time I’ll choose a design that is simpler.

Rustic Painted Sign |

Start small –Start with something small and work up as your confidence grows. This sign measures (72” x 32.5”) The stakes would’ve been smaller if the scale would’ve been smaller.

Old Signage |

Procrastination can mess with your paint – If you take almost three years to complete a project, time is going to affect the quality of your paint. Mine began to thicken and become more challenging to work with. Diluting it with water helped, but getting it done quickly would’ve been better.

So what does the vintage sign look like hanging in the studio?

I’m so glad you asked.

Pixelgarden Studio Sign |

We drew from paint colors that we used when renovating the studio to create the hand lettered sign. The result is even better than I had imagined.

Vintage Studio Sign |

In the beginning, I truly had moments when I wanted to give-up and call it a day. I feared that everything would go tragically wrong and this project would result in a massive bonfire because I was D-O-N-E!

But I’m so glad I kept going. To be honest, the entire thing took only a couple of weeks (an hour here and there) once I put my fears on notice and dove in. Completing a long fought project… overcoming procrastination and self-doubt is definitely sweet.

Pixelgarden Studio Sign |

I feel like I’ve shed a massive weight off my shoulders… a 6ft weight… and I’m already looking forward to tackling the next overdue DIY project.

What is it that perfectionism and procrastination have been getting the better of you on? Can you dig in and tackle it? What’s the worst that can happen? Even the worst case scenario is better than it continuing to loom over you unfinished.

I like to party! This post has linked-up to the following parties:


  1. Sharon Engle says:

    Danielle, the sign turned out amazing. You are so beautifully talented…I so enjoy reading your blog and see what fun project you are going to do next!

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Sara! I actually used BEHR paint for the project. It’s what we used to paint the studio and I wanted to pull in those colors so I just used the leftover paint. The dark blue was not an original color we had used when painting the studio so I found the color I wanted and had a BEHR sample pot mixed of it. Super easy!

  2. Shawna says:

    This turned out great! I decided to make something similar for my parents, but I have a few questions before I dive into the project. What font did you base your letters off of? Did you use a computer to plan out the design/slant the writing?


    • Danielle says:

      Hi Shawna! Thanks for asking. My husband is a graphic designer and came up with the design (on the computer) for his company. Once he created it, I projected it onto the boards to get a template to paint from.

      As for the fonts, because of his business, he has a massive library to choose from. We used “Silver Dollar” for the P and the rest of the letters are done in “OPTI Caesar – light”. I’m not sure what kind of fonts you have access to, but is a great resource for fonts and manipulating them.

      Best of luck with the project for your parents. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Your sign is beautiful. I can’t believe it’s hand-lettered. Amazing job! While taking a long time may have caused some problems, I think rushing through, trying to be done with a hard project might cause more. Your beautiful work show that procrastinated work can turn out well. Eventually 😊.

    • Danielle says:

      Thanks, Rebecca. I so appreciate your encouragement! I was really worried about rushing through this one for that very reason, but I definitely didn’t intend for it to take quite SO long. 😉 I’m still blown away by how it came out and I’m already itching to do something new (and definitely smaller) for 2016. Cheers!

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