A brief history of sign making

Filed under: Features — Posted by: Mark on July 16, 2013

Sign making, in some form or another, has always been used to get an important message out to the rest of the world. It has more of an effect than just saying the words out loud because it can often invoke different thoughts in different people. Having a sign permanently etched onto card or a large expanse of material makes an impact on more people, therefore getting the message out better. This is why many businesses use signs to advertise their services or products, because the scope is so large.

Before technology was readily available, or even invented, signs could still be found in certain areas. Humans have been creating art and pictures since the stone age, and signs are no different. They don’t have to consist of words; a picture or symbol will do. The way signs have been made has varied over the years, from cave painting all the way to computer printing, and it is interesting to see how much this craft has evolved.

Early signs

In the stone ages, when individuals lived in caves and were adept enough to create their own bows and arrows, signs were most certainly in existence. Although they may not have had the same impact as today’s recognised signs, they would have had some sort of meaning. Most likely, they would be drawn on walls of their cave or carved into stone with their makeshift tools.

It has been said that there are certain records of advertising techniques as early as 3000 BC, where signs were used to indicate where goods could be exchanged and sold. This suggests that sign making is not a new concept, and although it has evolved, there are still techniques in existence today that are shared with the past.

Middle Ages

Evidence of advertising using signs continued throughout history, with people in the Middle Ages using them to advertise at their place of business. This would have been seen as a very important advertising technique. Particularly in Rome, signs were carved into stone or terra cotta. Also, a well-known sign during that time was a bush of ivy and vine attached to a pole, used to indicate a tavern.

Technological advancements

Throughout history, signs were generally made from whatever materials people could find – everything from paints to stone to plants. People were particularly good at adapting to the world around them, hence the advancements we have today and the various options that have been made available.

Technology, in particular, has advanced to such an extent that signs are generally designed and printed using some form of technological equipment. This is easier because it gives businesses and individuals more scope and more design power to work with to create lasting and effective signs for whatever purpose.

Those who still enjoy the art of painting or molding, using natural equipment to create things, still try to keep this craft alive because signs can just as easily be made with traditional paper and paint. However, businesses strive for professionalism, and it is no surprise that technology remains the prominent player in sign making today.

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