16 Jun 2012

Five years of Ghostsigns and a new website

New Ghostsigns Website Screen Shot

Today is the 5th birthday of this blog following the first ever post on 16th June 2007.  In that time, including my stints on blogger, google sites and posterous, I have uploaded 415 posts, an average of seven per month.

As a birthday present I have upgraded the site to a hosted WordPress content management system (thank you Sven for the final push!).  This has been a revelation to me and I am still discovering the many wonderful things that I can now do.  I hope that you will find it easier to search, browse, interact and share.  If you have any feedback then please leave a comment or get in touch.

As a little review, here are my top posts from each calendar year, which means six of the best from the archive.  (I did something similar after one year and two years.)  Do you have any favourites?  Or do you have any suggestions for things you’d like me to write about in the future.  Once again, comments below.

Men at work on hand painted advertising for Dewars Whisky in New York


This was the year that it all started and I made lots of posts in the first few months, notably the Shop Local campaign from Bob and Roberta Smith, unravelling the Peterkin Mystery and finding a contender for a ‘ghostsigns world record’.  However, it wasn’t until October that I discovered this video of modern day US signpainters Colossal Media.  This is my nomination for post of the year for 2007 as it is a video that I return to over and over again in presentations to students and professionals.  In close second place it would have to be my appearance on London Tonight.

More posts from 2007.

Robert Elms and Sam Roberts BBC Radio London


This was another year of discovery, including my first personal meetings with French ghostsigns, the work of model making artist Emmanuel Nouaillier,and my introduction to the debates surrounding the preservation of ghostsigns.  For me the highlight of 2008 was my appearance on the Robert Elms show on BBC London Radio.  It marked the second really big piece of press for my activities and cemented my belief in a wider interest in the subject matter.

More posts from 2008.

Ultrabold Ghostsigns Feature by Sam Roberts


This was the year that my slightly random scatter gun approach changed and, in partnership with the History of Advertising Trust, I started work on a national photographic archive of ghostsigns.  Many of the posts in 2009 were focused on monitoring progress towards this objective, including analysis of contributions and video montages of submissions.  A side interest was a treasure hunt of sorts in the search for contemporary Jack Daniel’s ‘ghostsigns’ but it was another piece of press in the form of an article by me in Ultrabold that takes my prize for 2009.

More posts from 2009.

HAT & Rank Hovis Team


Without question my post for 2010 has to be the one that followed the launch of the ghostsigns archive in March.  It was a very proud moment and the launch was picked up by the One Show, BBC Radio 4, and many more.  Honorary mentions go to another Colossal Media film, ‘UP THERE’, the draft book chapter I wrote based on material from the archive, and the discovery of what might be some of the oldest ghostsigns in the world.

More posts from 2010.

Bull Dairies painted sign on wall by Nick Stenning
Photo: Nick Stenning


My move to Cambodia left activities on Ghostsigns in some doubt, but a good internet connection here meant posts could be continued, even allowing for some covering hand painted signs in Cambodia.  Significant events this year included the launch of Frank Jumps ‘Fading Ads of New York’ book, the moves in Hackney to list ghostsigns and the continued addition of material into the archive.  It is a close call for post of the year but I think that the ghostsigns world tour and my Stoke Newington ghostsigns tour slip into second place behind the overall winner which was my extended post on the debates surrounding the restoration of ghostsigns.

More posts from 2011.

Flow diagram showing the process for creating the ghostsigns archive


And finally to this year which has already seen new additions to the archive, another potential world record, and, for me, the opportunity to document hand painted signs in Bangladesh and The Gambia.  New projects have been found including Ken Jones’ photographic technique and the research of Geraldine Marshall in the Birmingham Graphic DNA initiative.  Destruction in Vancouver caused a stir and there was the loss of the Hammersmith Palais sign in London, while restoration efforts in the Netherlands also caught my eye.  However, it was a reflective piece by me and Laura Carletti for History Workshop online which is the front runner at the midpoint of this year, but there is still some way to go…

More posts from 2012.

I hope you enjoyed these blasts from the past, here’s to the next five years of Ghostsigns!  As always, get in touch and follow and share activity on the site through whichever online network(s) you use.

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