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TRENDER: Sign Painter Jayson Salvi

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

 

Seen a great hand-painted sign around Providence lately? Chances are it's the handiwork of Jayson Salvi.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers a glimpse of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today's Trender is Jayson Salvi, the owner of Salvi’s Traditional Sign Painting and Design.

Salvi started this local business in Providence in 2008, and his custom signs can be seen hanging in the windows of many storefronts throughout the city and the state. His creations are not only for corporations, but for personal collections as well, and they make excellent home decorations. This successful entrepreneur has found a niche market in our state, and his presence is already being felt around the area. As his business continues to grow, Salvi’s signs will surely pop up more and more around the city, and we are excited to see what the future has in store for this talented painter.

How did your education lead you to your current career?

I was always interested in drawing and typography. My education really had nothing to do with it. I did not go to a formal art school; everything I’ve learned has been self-taught. When I went into the navy in 1992, I was enlisted to design our company flag in boot camp…I wish I still had that. From there, I went to a navy ship down in Newport, and after a while I was doing the lettering on the different Department Head’s office doors. I never thought after 8 years in the navy that I would ever attempt to make a freelance career out of this skill.

When did you decide that you wanted to go into the sign painting business?

The serious “on-paper-thought” was back in 2004 when Tazza first opened on Westminster Street. That was my first big account. From there, I really hustled around and worked a full-time job, while at the same time trying to get more sign-painting accounts.

How have your experiences in the state of Rhode Island affected you as a person and as a painter? 

I have a love-hate relationship with the state of Rhode Island. I see the potential that Rhode Island has, and I see our capacity for improvement, which makes me frustrated. This trend has affected me in such a way that sometimes I have to take a step back from what is happening in the state, to instead concentrate on my art and to focus on helping my wife, Kate, promote her photo greeting card business. Providence has had more of an effect on me then the state has as a whole. I love this city and the independent businesses that make it unique. I see a lot of opportunity for hand-painted signs and other public art which can enhance the downtown experience of residents and tourists alike. We have a lot of empty wall space downtown and I’d like to see a real collaborative movement between all arts groups to in order to enhance the visually beauty of our city, which would be in line with honoring the city’s history. 

What is the demand for your signs like? Who makes up the majority of your clientele?

It varies. I can have a great spring, summer, and fall, and then nothing in the winter months. All of my clients have been right here in Providence and I’ve even started a hand-painted Providence Street Signs Project that are being sold at Homestyle on Westminster Street and That Guy Furniture and Home Goods in the Arcade.

How do you decide what your signs are going to say? Where do you get your inspiration?

It all depends on the moment. I love positive words and messages. I was fortunate enough to take that aspect and provide some really great signs for Leadership Rhode Island’s Super Party back in October. My inspiration tends to come from every corner of my world. Some of my projects are inspired by my wife Kate, and other signs are developed due to my experiences in Providence. It’s such a great city and I enjoy honoring the neighborhoods. When someone sees a street sign in a store that says Hope Street, Broadway Street, or Friendship Street, those who have left the city see these signs and they feel an instant re-connection. On the other hand, those who have remained in Providence can have a street sign for their home without having to resort to “taking” one from the actual street.

How many signs do you usually finish each month? Are there any other employees who work with your company?

I can start as many as 70 signs and finish as many as 50 or more, depending on my attention span during the given month. I have a tendency to get distracted from one project to the next. I’m also the only employee of my company. It’s a quality control thing for me. If I make a mistake, I can explain it, and then start over and finish the project quickly. Having someone else work on a client design in the future would be great. I just have to let go of some control issues.

Do you do any other kinds of artwork for your own enjoyment or for another source of employment?

I do work a 40-hour full time job strictly for healthcare. However, this occupation doesn’t define who I am like my sign painting does. Aside from Salvi’s Traditional Sign Painting and Design, I started making furniture for our home. It’s actually really nice stuff, to my surprise.

Do you have any future plans for expansion? How long do you foresee yourself staying in the sign painting business? Could you see yourself doing anything else at some point?

Providence can be a city with great economic potential, and I would love to see my signs as a part of that. Sign painters have a big advantage in cities with strict historical guidelines; the craft is making a huge return. I can see myself creating signs for a long time. As long as I’m willing to keep re-inventing myself while staying true to my craft, there will always be something to design and paint. Being a sign painter is who I am. I will always do this in some fashion. As for seeing myself doing something else, I’d love to help all the other freelancers in Providence get some exposure that they can’t get on their own. There are a lot of talented people in our city, but you might not know who they are because they do not possess the proper connections to get their artwork the exposure that it truly deserves. If we are going to be the Creative Capital, then we need to figure out how to bring all artists into play—not just the ones with a group affiliation. I firmly believe that our potential is endless.

 

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