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I love Retro Ads & Vintage Signs.

So I'll let you into a little secret ( well not that little ) ....I don't design everything in the Famous Rebel store. There I admit it. If you've managed to pick yourself up off the floor, let me explain why and tell you why I still love making our handmade retro ads and vintage signs. Here's a little blog about why and how I make these wall art gems of history.

Vintage Signs & Vintage Ads


Banjo Banjo WTF?

Now, well before I even thought about working in the creative industry I was fascinated by advertising growing up .... Tv ads , Poster ads you name it I loved it. I have absolutely no idea why. I later went on to do my University dissertation on the use of music and jingles in TV ads and can still reel off a number of tuneful advertising ditties ranging from Banjo chocolate Bar , to finger of Fudge . I can say that this has helped me in no way at all in my later life, except for randomly singing short 30 second songs at all appropriate moments and expecting everyone to know the tune.


So one of my first old ad memories was on a holiday to France in the early 80's to the town Limoges . On the wall of a tiny village nearby was a peeling and flaking old advert for a drink I had neither seen or tasted before  ( I still haven't tasted it ). It was a French breakfast drink called Banania.

Banania Retro Ad

On a trip back to France last year trying to recreate memories with my own kids I noticed that the drink is still for sale ! And I still haven't tasted it! If you have drank it ..let me know ...what does it taste of ?

Vintage Signs

So I suppose Banania, was an early intro into the world of ads for me. It's something that has kept with me all my life and I started to collect ads and retro signs from an early age. Yes I am weird.

There was just something fascinating and retro about these snippets into different worlds, of products that I hadn't seen or heard of before and of glamorous photography and cool words. I used to buy comics and spend more time looking at the strange ads in the back pages for Sea Monkeys and Twinkies. ( someone once actually bought me Sea Monkeys as a present and I can categorically tell you that they look **** all like the pictures in the ads). 

Sea Monkeys  


BuckFast Wine

So collecting these ads over the years feels like collecting little bits of history...some of it good, some of it bad, some of it funny, some hilarious some of it sexist , some of it sexy and some of it all these things and more at the same time.  This ad for Buckfast Tonic Wine sums the whole ridiculous thing up. Coming from Glasgow this is definitely not how I think of Buckfast Tonic Wine lol. This ad is just bizarre!

Buckfast Wine

Collecting ads ...

So having dipped my toes in little bits of advertising over the years ( here's one I made for Photobox a few years ago ) pic courtesy of Famous Rebel

Photobox Poster Waterloo

I had a large collection of ads from over the years sitting doing nothing on a hard drive that I have used over the years for inspiration and research. So what better way to get them out as to make them as great pieces of Art for your walls.

Vintage Retro Ads signs drying

 Making them Vintage Signs

So anyone can print an ad and make it a piece of wall art. But how do you make them look and feel like the real thing?

I wanted these ads to look like they have been taken from a Wall in a retro 50's New York Diner or from a Parisian street. I wanted them to be totally Handmade so every one is unique with all the glorious wear, tear and imperfections that you'd expect from an old vintage sign. 

Here's an original old French wood board sign ( in case you are wondering ).


French Wood Board Sign

 So here's how I do it.

Number 1 wait for a sunny day!  (I know this is difficult in a country where it rains incessantly ). This is a bit of a an obstacle leaving you just 10 days a year to make things ( you will understand this is not a joke if you come from the UK) . To get that thickness of a real wood ad ..we use a thin 3mm wood board that we then paint black to give an aged feel.

Vintage Adverts

I will skip over printing the ad as that should ( hopefully be self explanatory ). So we now have stage 2 

Wood and Board. We need to meld these together and there is only one product on the market . Modge Podge . Now I've tried loads of glue stuff but Modge Podge just seems to work differently. Ive no idea why .... but this stuff just works. And it should do as it's bl**dy expensive!

Modge Podge

So stage 3. Use the Modge Podge to seal the image to the wood. This is where sunlight and heat helps as you get less air bubbles in the heat and the prints fix quicker to the wood. The Modge Podge also gives the prints a vintage look and feel to them

Vintage Signs Hand made

Simple eh? Not quite. To get these to have a real vintage feel we need to make them vintage if that makes sense? And there is only one way to give them 20 years of ageing in less time...the good old sander.

Making Vintage Signs

Now this isn't a fun job. In fact it takes ages as you have to be careful and also make sure you give the print the right amount of vintage. There's no perfect answer to this . It's a case of just going with what you feel best. Be warned though this is very messy and by the end of it your hand will be totally numb. Still it's worth it to get the look of a real vintage sign or ad. I think?

Hands after Sanding Vintage Signs

So there you have it the story behind the making of our vintage ads and signs . They aren't easy but they do make unique pieces of vintage wall art and the beauty is that every single one is hand-made and unique.


Making Vintage Ads by Hand


So after a long weekends work we finally have the signs ready to go online and in our store.

Hamd Made Vintage Sign & Retro Ads

 However if you think all that sanding, printing and glueing is a bit much you can buy them ready made ....perfect for a unique and original piece of Wall Art Decor for any wall.

Hand Made Original Vintage Signs - I don't design them but I certainly make them hand made & unique.

Hand Made Retro Ads

Thanks for reading xx

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