The London Blogger Interviews #32: Ghost Signs

Sam of Ghost Signs is this week’s blogger, whose fascination with the legacy of painted wall advertising has led him to document them as they come and go in London’s ever-changing environment. The blog has been mentioned as a favourite by many of our previous interviewees so we thought it was high time we found out more.

If you had to describe your blog in less than 15 words how would you do it?
Documenting the lost craft of hand painted wall advertising a.k.a ‘ghostsigns’ before they all disappear.

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Why did you start blogging?
I needed a platform for the work I was doing, somewhere to make sense of everything and share this with others. Having an online presence felt like a massive gap and writing a blog was a simple way of gaining this. It’s funny looking back on those early posts and how the blog has evolved alongside the nature and scope of the project. There was something of the ‘first album’ effect in that the first month saw me write 34 posts, a clear spilling out of things I’d wanted to write about for a long time. Month two had 19 posts and it has leveled out since then with five or more being a busy month.

What about London inspires your blog?
One thing – the fading ghostsigns that can be found across the capital. I first started spotting them in Stoke Newington and was soon cycling to all corners of the city to follow up leads given to me by friends, family and members of the public. It’s been a real adventure full of discovery.

What’s your favourite find so far to date – and is there anything you’d love to find?
Favourite find is definitely the Black Cat Cigarettes sign on Dingley Place in Islington (pictured). It is still one of the best signs I’ve ever come across. The thing about that find was that I’d been cycling past it every day for months but because I used to come home by a different route I had only ever gone down the road in one direction. One day I happened to glance backwards and spotted it.

As for what I’d love to find, my role has evolved slightly from when I was out and about photographing every week. I am now working on cataloguing ghostsigns from across the country to establish a permanent photographic archive at the History of Advertising Trust. Through Flickr I am now part of an extended network of enthusiasts and photographers which means that new signs tend to get picked up and shared by others before I see them – e.g. the Veglio Cafe sign recently revealed on Oxford Street.

Read the rest on Londonist.

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