Lindi McDonald’s dance studio, Studio Forte, at 2907 Sutton Boulevard, needed a sign, and she found out from a friend about a sign painter who does it the old-fashioned way–by hand.
She said she was nervous at first about a hand-painted sign. Most are produced digitally now, but she didn’t need to worry. The painter, Lonnie Tettaton, has been painting signs in the St. Louis area for 57 years. He’s 76.
Tettaton has painted a trompe l’oeil mural on a 20-story building in St. Louis and a 40’ x 260’ mural of horses racing around the post at a horse track in Hope Springs, Arkansas.
His work for McDonald was a white oval a few feet across, with lettering a graphic designer friend had done for her when she first opened her studio about half a dozen years ago.
She said having Tettaton paint her sign fits her studio and Maplewood.
“It’s such an art-based community,” she said. “It’s an original, and it’s not cookie cutter. For Maplewood, I thought this is just perfect.”
Tettaton set up shop with his oil paints, turpentine and rags on the sidewalk in front of Studio Forte.
“I started when I was a kid in the old neighborhood,” he said. (That’s north St. Louis, he said, when asked.)
“When I was in high school I did a few. I took the streetcar down Grand Avenue to Hadley Tech where I took commercial art,” he said.
“That’s when the ballpark was on Grand Avenue and there were businesses everywhere,” he said. “I seen signs everywhere, so I thought it would be a good field to get into. I’ve been dedicated to the sign business ever since I was a teenager. If you’re dedicated to a trade you’ll be successful. ”
All his jobs comes through word of mouth, like McDonald’s friend.
“I don’t have an ad in the yellow pages or anything,” he said.
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