Jackson Foster is a maker and painter of trade and tavern signs in the tradition of
18th and 19th Century style artisans. With a love of American history and 40 years a
graphic design and branding consultant, he and his family left Chicago for Fredericksburg,
Virginia, in 2005. After discovering a book (at Colonial Williamsburg) on early
American tavern and inn signs, he found in this craft the perfect answer to combining
his art and design background, interest in woodworking and passion for lettering.
His research of actual historic people and places serve as the rationale for the majority
of his sign creations (he also accepts commissions). His extensive background in
calligraphy and hand-lettering serve well as each sign is completely hand-lettered and
painted; no stenciling or computer fonts are used, and each sign is based on 18th and
19th century lettering and folk art styles. He refers to existing early American signs
and printers books as would the itinerant painters of the day.
He uses a variety of reclaimed wood for each sign, along with period hardware including
blacksmith-forged hanging straps, nails and hinges, all making for unique signs
in which no two are alike. He continues to work at developing and refining his craft
through research of early artisans, painting practices and wood joinery techniques.
Artists appearing in the 20201 Directory of Traditional American Crafts have been selected, and the best of their handiwork has been photographed at Cedar Grove, an 18th Century house museum operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Look for the Directory in our August 2021 issue.
1,841 days until America's Sestercentennial
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