Denton, TX's Starr Studios Affirms Signpainting is Alive and Well

Sean Starr says Denton's creative atmosphere helps business

Sean Starr, owner of Denton, TX-based Starr Studios, has painted signs for approximately 20 years. He developed his skills working in his father’s custom-auto-painting shop.
“Over the years, we received more and more requests for vehicle lettering, and this work was assigned to me to perform,” Starr said. “Initially, I made hand-cut stencils, and then learned how to letter with a brush. I just tried different solutions and begged for advice from handlettering old-timers whenever I could.”
Today, his shop depends mostly on referrals and repeat business. He said he’s developed a large enough client roster that he can turn down work when necessary. Starr noted that most clients cede creative control to him, and some regular customers don’t ask for proofs.
He developed a signature piece for Bookish Coffee, a Denton coffee roaster. Starr said vinyl lettering had been left and painted over within the framed space. He painted the sign with 1Shot® lettering enamel with an added hardener, using a combination of Mack Brush Co. brushes and stripers. Starr is working with Mack Brush to develop a custom brush line, which, at presstime, was slated to be for sale in early November.
“The Denton sign code doesn’t require a permit for a sign that’s less than 15 ft. above the ground,” he said. “That was specifically enacted to promote murals and painted signage. Denton is a college town [University of North Texas], and its artsy feel reminds me of Austin before it got so big. It’s a great environment for creative signage.”
Tattoo parlors provide another great forum for unusual signage. Starr decorated a sign for J. Hall and Co. Gentlemen Tattooers by faux-aging pine panels with a combination of 1Shot faux finishes, stains and distressing blows.
“We make a lot of signs with this method; they’re very popular in Texas,” he said. “It took awhile to develop this process, but it effectively gives wood an aged effect while maintaining its integrity.”
Starr referred to traditional signmaking as “the most frustrating and rewarding trade I can think of. It’s frustrating because, no matter how much you learn, you still can’t know everything. But it’s also rewarding when you have a breakthrough and achieve something you didn’t think was possible, with your own hands.”

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