The art of sign-painting is a whole world of expert craftsmanship, and Joe Swec is sitting on top of that world. We’re proud to present a special copper water bottle collaboration that celebrates the hand-painted numbers Joe painted on your favorite El Cosmico trailers.
FW: How did you discover sign-painting and how were you trained?
JS: The short answer is I was given scrapbooks from my grandma of my grandpa’s, as well as his old signs sketch books and calligraphy he had made when he was my age. He was in the military and after that was a minister, but always had a love for design and lettering as a hobby, which was a hobby of mine at the time. I’m self taught had did it for a free years before I eventually found an avenue here in Austin to make it into a career.
FW: What advice would you have for someone who’s interested in learning how to do what you do?
JS: I’d just say to just start doing it as much as you can. Give yourself little jobs to get done and it will all add to you practice and experience. And eventually you’ll be confident enough to go out and get paid to do it.
FW: Do you have a favorite trailer at El Cosmico?
JS: I’ve always like Amigo. It always stuck in my head when I thought of El Cosmico.
FW: Was there a reference or inspiration for the El Cosmico numbers?
JS: Yeah, they came from old military numbers on the sides of ships. I felt like that fit with the trailers, being like little ships from the same era and the canvas around the showers etc.
FW: We’re also fans of your work on matchbooks. Tell us about how you got into making those.
JS: I still paint them, but I usually just keep them. I’ve always loved the simplicity of matchbook design. I’ve also always love them as objects that can sit on a desktop or shelf. It’s also a very satisfying quick art piece to do, one only takes a couple hours from start to finish and it makes me feel good to finish one, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something that day. As an artist, it’s great to make large elaborate art pieces that take a long time because when you finish them, it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment, but there is something really nice too about having those avenues that give you a feeling of accomplishment in just an hour or two.