“I have been making signs for about 20 years. I got into hand-painted, old school lettering and it took off. I opened New Hand Signs about two years ago. The name is because sign painting almost died out. It is about new hands painting again. I love doing this for a living.
I did a mural at OWA for Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar, but this is the biggest mural I have done. The artwork for a mural honoring biologist E.O. Wilson was created by Hummingbird advertising agency a few years ago.
I started researching Mr. Wilson and his work, especially with ants coming through the Port of Mobile. Even people I don’t know have been sending me articles. His writing is amazing. You don’t hear that much about him, but he was right here under our noses. I hope he comes here to see his mural one day.
This mural stretches me because it is so big and high. I started with the ants. One ant is 12 feet high and everything else goes up from there. There are inevitable paint drips, but with a mural this size, I can just paint over it and bring it in. When I am painting, I zone out and listen to podcasts or music including James Brown, Tom Petty and Dinosaur Jr. I paint by day and sketch from the projection on the wall at night. It is cool to be up that high and look out, especially night. It is also peaceful to paint on the weekends and hear the cathedral bells ring.
I love Mr. Wilson’s quote on the wall, ‘There is no better high than discovery.’ I hope whoever drives by is inspired by and wants to do more for themselves and in Mobile.
Before this, there was a mural of the state of Alabama on the wall. It may have been painted in the 40s. I like thinking about the other sign painter. He probably painted from a platform held in place by ropes.
I have been influenced by the sign painters in Mobile. Most have passed away, but their work can still be seen around town, you just have to look up to find it. I have several signs from “Dunn by Nunn” in my shop and look for his work in the wild. He watched soap operas as he painted and sometimes threw glitter in the paint of his letters. His signs created a landscape and gave a look and vibe to Mobile. Charles Ponzi, of the Ponzi scheme, also painted signs here.
I grew up in Mobile and have people buried in Church Street Cemetery. Mobile has art and Mardi Gras and people who support each other, why would I go anywhere else? It is also close to the water and I surf a lot. There is something cool and different about this city and I love that my signs and murals add to that.”
(E.O. Wilson Wilson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929. Growing up in the countryside around Mobile, he was entranced by nature and all its creatures. A fishing accident left him blind in one eye, interfering with his ability to study birds and other animals in the field. He decided to focus on insects—creatures he could examine under a microscope.
“Most children have a bug period,” he wrote in his memoir Naturalist. “I never grew out of mine.”
In the late 1950s and 1960s, Wilson played a key role in the development of the new field of chemical ecology. With several collaborators he worked out much of the pheromone language of ants, and with William H. Bossert of Harvard University he created the first general theory of properties of chemical communication. Because all plants and microorganisms, as well as the vast majority of animals, communicate primarily or entirely by chemical signals, the importance of this work has been immense.
From E.O. Wilson’s Foundation page. Learn more here: https://eowilsonfoundation.org/e-o-wilson/
Wilson is a also two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (for On Human Nature in 1979, and The Ants in 1991) and a New York Times bestselling author for The Social Conquest of Earth, Letters to a Young Scientist, and The Meaning of Human Existence.)