I spent decades of my work life hand-lettering for a living. I’m pretty much retired from the trade. Today, in the USA, computers, scanners, printers, and computer-driven tools and cutters now produce almost all signs and lettering. The hand letterer is an increasingly obscure and vanishing person, now a relic artisan whose work is seen less and less. Time and rot steadily erode and erase what remains of existing old-fashioned handwork.
But. In Southern Mexico, it was different. There, the hand-letterer is still around, and the work is still in demand. The lettering was not sophisticated. It would be considered folk art by some. It was wonderful to look at. I started looking at the boats on the beach at Mazunte. I took some photos.
Had I been in Mazunte longer, I might have been able to seek out and talk to the people who did the lettering on these boats. That would be interesting.
One of the boats was nicely turtled and orca-ed. Withoubt doubt it was the fanciest job there.
In the next boat we see a variation on the wood letter theme, a variation that’s likely a few iterations and repetitions past an original. You could call that the “folk process” at work.
These works aren’t at all “professional”, but they’re a big step up from what your average Joe or Jill would come up with. They have a character, exuberance, and a spirit that bursts right off the bows they’re lettered on.
In another post to come, we’ll look at some of the street lettering here.