The Craft of All Ages: Sign Painting in Laurel, Mississippi
It’s no secret that Laurel has a plethora of artists and makers hiding in every nook and cranny. We hone in on our distinct art scene religiously and we hope to show others that small towns draw in and create the most skilled craftsmen in the world. Today we’re shining a light on the craft that has been resurrected in the past years and is, thankfully, passing through a younger generation.
Meet River Prince.
Local photographers, Grant and Jenn, comment, “At just twenty years old, River is upholding a seemingly lost but not forgotten craft, it is hard to pass up how much practice he has put in and skill he has acquired.”
It’s true. River has completed at least 30 projects in the short six months that he has officially been a sign painter. When he started painting signs (just for fun) almost two years ago, he didn’t realize how many people were in need of his services. He didn’t know that he would be asked to design and paint all over the city of Laurel and the country.
River says, “I was just going to paint signs on the side. It was a good side gig and something that I could make a few bucks with. Then I got my first few jobs and that led to another job.. and then another. It has just snow-balled into a full-time occupation where everyone needs something on their windows or on their building.”
Laurel has been bursting at the seams with people who want to showcase their business, culture and pride on the brick walls found all over downtown. It seems as if now is good timing for this young sign painter to uphold the rising generation’s need to create more beautiful things.
River recalls, “I’ve always loved older designs and old signs. When I pass by a store, it’s the first thing I look for and I just pick each detail apart. I’ve always been drawn to the lines and detail of each curve.”
Some fun 50s style wall lettering I'm currently working on in Downtown Ellisville. There haven't been any photographs found of how the sign may have looked for the theater. It's been a lot of fun sketching this one out and painting it 100% by hand like it would've been done back then! #handpaintedsigns
When you visit Laurel, Mississippi, or any small town, we hope you’ll pay attention to the words, lines and curves of each mural and sign. No matter how much the paint has weathered or if the paint is just beginning to dry, each piece reflects a steady hand and a determined mind.
Video by Chad Evans
*All photos are courtesy of Grant and Jenn Photography and River Prince.
Follow along with River and his sign painting adventures here: @r.prince.signs
A Laurel native, Lindsay Miller, is Laurel Mercantile Co.'s communication and social media manager. As a recent graduate from the University of Mississippi, with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, she loves to promote Small Town America by shining a spotlight on the small town that raised her.