Sign Of The Times

Trim­ble speaks at Shiloh Sand­wiched In

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - — BECCA MARTIN-BROWN BMARTIN@NWADG.COM

Is sign paint­ing an art or a trade?

Olivia Trim­ble is still sort­ing that out — even though she has been a pro­fes­sional sign painter for a while.

“I got my first re­ally big con­tract — mul­ti­ple signs, big deal, not just small­time stuff any­more — three years ago,” says Trim­ble, who just fin­ished the gi­gan­tic Ex­pe­ri­ence Fayetteville sign at the Fayetteville Vis­i­tors Bu­reau on the south­west corner of the down­town square. She says she de­lib­er­ately chose not to look at it from a dis­tance un­til it was com­pleted, and then she drove around the block to view it com­ing up Moun­tain Street. She was … pleased.

“This is my square in my fa­vorite city in the world,” she says. “When I fin­ish a job that seems like a mon­ster, I get so emo­tional about it.”

Trim­ble grew up with one foot in Spring­dale and one in Fayetteville after her par­ents di­vorced, and she’d some­times ac­com­pany her step­fa­ther on his jobs as a sign painter.

“I grew up with the smell of sign paint­ing enamel and paint thin­ner,” she says, “but it didn’t oc­cur to me it might be some­thing I’d want to do” — un­til she bought her step­dad a book about sign paint­ing. “There was this woman in there, and she was the coolest, grit­ti­est woman I’d ever seen.” Still, she didn’t ap­pren­tice with her step­fa­ther. “There’s been a lot of im­pro­vi­sa­tion along the way.”

Trim­ble will present “A Ret­ro­spec­tive on Sign Paint­ing in the Ozarks” as part of the Sand­wiched In pro­gram at noon Wed­nes­day at the Shiloh Mu­seum of Ozark His­tory in Spring­dale, and keep­ing it to an hour will prob­a­bly be the big­gest chal­lenge. She wants to talk about how “we’re re­ally for­tu­nate in the Ozarks to have some iconic ghost signs” — de­fined as signs painted on brick that have weath­ered but not dis­ap­peared. “Vinyl just peels off,” she says with a sigh. She also wants to dis­cuss the process of sign paint­ing “and why it’s valu­able. As a trade, it kind of died off, but it’s had a lit­tle resur­gence I’m so for­tu­nate to be part of.” And she wants lis­ten­ers to un­der­stand “this is hard-core work,” whether it’s paint­ing lines on a high school ten­nis court or cre­at­ing a two-story land­mark in Fayetteville.

“This is not just paint­ing cutesy signs on chalk­boards,” she says.

PHOTO COUR­TESY KAT WIL­SON

“This is not just paint­ing cutesy signs on chalk­boards,” Olivia Trim­ble says of her work.

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