I used to hang out at an electronics shop in Minneapolis called Duo-Sonic. I worked at the bakery around the corner and I would bring coffee over to these old guys taking apart VCRs and talk with them about music. The neighborhood was real rough and occasionally some guy would come in the shop and take off running with a TV and we’d chase ‘em down.

One day their landlord installed new windows on the building and they lost their old sign. The guys were at a loss as to how to replace an artifact like a handpainted sign, so I offered to do it for a hundred bucks.

When I was up on the ladder painting, this guy in a delivery truck drove up and hollered at me, “Hey are you doing that by hand?”

“Yup,” I said.

The man said, “That’s old school,” and drove away with his thumb up. I knew right then and there what it was that I wanted to do for the next 40 years or so. Ira Coyne: Sign Painter.

Duo-Sonic lost their lease when the young entrepreneur next door offered the landlord twice the rent they were paying and they went out of business a week later. They were in business for 25 years in the same location. That was ten years ago.

I want to make signs that last for businesses that last. I want to work fairly so my customers can be fair to their customers. I despise money but I’ll take a huge pile of it anyway. Hamburgers seem more tangible to me. Handmade objects are the roots of all forms of love and we should give them to each other more often.

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