California Dreamin’ with Marc Shur

Posted inGail Anderson
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Last year, the advertising art director and designer Marc Shur found himself needing to do something “creative” in his free time. So he started photographing signs—not your average Dunkin’ Donuts signs, mind you, but the coolest signs imaginable.

“Photography has always been a serious hobby for me,” Marc says, “but it’s never had a particular direction. As an art director, I’ve long been fascinated with old shop signs, their typography and design, as well as midcentury architecture and product design.

“I didn’t consciously start shooting signs with this motivation; it just sort of developed over the last year. I look back at my first images and cringe, but it’s always felt right creating them. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this, not even my wife, because I thought no one would care. I guess I was wrong about that.” (I care, Marc.)

Marc Shur’s Flickr page and website have become quite the online sensations, with lots of Pinterest pins and whatever else you kids do with your interwebs. His work’s been featured on blogs, and will soon appear in print as well, in Digital Photography magazine. You can even buy prints on his site. Smart… very smart.

“Most of the images were taken in Southern California and a few are from Central California,” Marc says. “I’m slowly working my way up the coast. I’d like to take a road trip at some point along Route 66, when time permits. New Mexico has some great vintage signs.”

Marc uses Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to enhance his images. “I usually layer the original image with 8-10 other layers, some for sharpening and some for backgrounds and textures,” he explains. “Regarding the textures, I know it’s become a popular thing with iPhone processing, but there’s very little control over how it interacts with the sign, and besides, I nitpick everything to death—an occupational habit.

“I rarely put effects over the sign area, trying to keep the sign the hero and not let the background distract from that, but I do break my own rules on occasion. I try to approach each sign uniquely, not in a cookie cutter process, and I try to do something conceptually engaging.” And, obviously, he succeeds.

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