Of Dry Cleaners and Felafel Joints

When you sketch a place – a view, a street, a monument – you get to know it so well. The light, the textures, the colors, all the stuff you would miss if you weren’t looking so deeply. So it’s a bittersweet feeling when it no longer exists: I am glad I got to sketch it and know it before it was gone, but it’s gone forever…

Few things are disappearing as quickly as neon signs. It used to be that every proud business owner would put up as flashy a sign as they could. Glowing neon, flashing arrows illuminated by bulbs, all with beautiful typography…Todays backlit vinyl signs do a poor job of matching up to those gorgeous signs.

Elite Cleaners in Willow Glen, San Jose. They move away to a new location very soon. And the sign? They’re not taking it with them. I tried digging up how old the sign was and got a vague “from the 50s” reply. I loved the serpentine arrow that wraps down the sign.

A second look at the sign, from up close.

This sketch is of a sign by Felafel’s Drive-In, a popular felafel joint with a classic American drive-in sign. The good news? This place is thriving and they’re not going anywhere soon. I sketched this sign on what was possibly our ONLY really rainy day this year ( Northern California has it’s WORST drought ever this year.)

ImageNext up? I’m looking for suggestions. Know of a Bay Area location with a great vintage sign? A theater marquee? Or a handpainted storefront sign? Let me know, I’d love to sketch it.

To see more vintage sign sketches, check out this set on flickr.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in california, Close to home, Silicon Valley and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Of Dry Cleaners and Felafel Joints

  1. Radio Lady says:

    Suhita…your sketches always look better than the actual subject!


    >Soulshine is better than sunshine or moonshine.


  2. Tina says:

    It’s so great that you are preserving these disappearing signs in your sketchbook!

    – Tina


  3. Lee Kline says:

    Well done and inspirational. Already has me thinking about a couple of signs I should try to record. Thanks.


  4. Melissa says:

    Can’t believe they are not taking that treasure with them! It’s such an identity. Nice job on the sketches. You might want to look for vintage signage on the Virtual Paintout–this month’s city is Washington D.C. and I saw a couple of really cool theater marquees as I was “walking” around the neighborhoods on Google Maps. Here’s the link, if you are interested: http://virtualpaintout.blogspot.com/2014/02/washington-dc-february-2014.html


  5. Wow; love the loose washy coloring here!


  6. Priya says:

    I love your water color quick sketch technique. Lovely. I agree that your sketches look better than the actual subject.
    The Alma Bowl has gone. Another sign that comes to my mind that is vintage is Western Appliance in San Carlos st, San Jose.


  7. EpiHackr says:

    Really like this piece.


  8. Pingback: URL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s