Take a short stroll around Paris and you’re bound to stumble on something interesting. This time, that ‘something’ is a proper old-fashioned sign writing business, the sort you don’t see very often these days. Enseignes Brillo – a stone’s throw from our friends at Royalcheese – is a sign shop run by painters Etienne Renard and Louis Lepais. For part two of our Good People Good Places (Paris edition) we chatted to Etienne and Louis to find out a bit more about the hand-painted signwriting game.
Etienne wears, Bakers Jacket In Navy Twill, Military Chino In Light Olive Twill, Louis wears, Bakers Jacket In Light Olive Twill, Oxford Pant In Sand Summer Canvas
When the average highstreet these days is awash with those uninspiring laser-cut shop signs in migraine-inducing colours, it's nice to know that there are people out there still doing it the old-fashioned way. There’s an undeniable appeal to a hand-painted sign, something that Etienne and Louis were banking on when they set up their own sign business – Enseignes Brillo – a few years back. Now their handiwork can be seen all over Paris, providing some of the city’s best independent businesses with shop-front makeovers that demand a second look. If you’ve ever walked past a lovely looking spot on a Parisian sidestreet, gone back for another glance, then gone back a third time to snap a quick pic (for Insta, of course), chances are, you’ve seen Brillo’s work firsthand.
“We’re influenced by the city and its visual landscape, but we’re also keen to create something modern and bespoke for every client,” Louis explains. This idea of collaboration is clearly very important to the pair. “Our aim is always to guide the client in the right direction and advise them on different things like size, placement or colour, just like a tattoo artist would. The back and forth to fine tune the design takes time – as does painting it by hand – but we want to make sure the client is comfortable with every step of the process.”
Not only do Louis and Etienne run the business, but they do all the painting themselves, too, and as you might imagine it’s a balancing act: sometimes quite literally. “Being on top of a ladder and hand-painting signs is a good way to take a break from emailing, but you often find yourself with a brush in one hand and your phone in the other! We’re lucky to have a lot of inquiries each day, but answering them all in a timely manner at the same time as working on on-going projects is the ultimate challenge.” Hand-painting is obviously not the quickest, easiest, or cheapest option, so it’s encouraging that business owners are still seeing the value in it, and making our cities that little bit prettier in the process.
You’ve been warned, UW people. Next time you see a particularly nice bit of lettering above a shop door, spare a thought for that bloke up a ladder.