The Pre-Vinylite Society

Sign Zine

The Pre-Vinylite Society Manifesto

The Pre-Vinylite Society is a loose network of self-ordained sign enthusiasts and advocates for creative use of urban space. The Pre-Vinylite movement grew out of co-founder Josh Luke’s desire for a positive, all-inclusive community where novice and experienced sign enthusiasts could post their work as well as their inspirations.

The idea of a “pre-vinylite” world connotes a time before vinyl sign technology nearly decimated the hand painted sign industry in the 1980s. But despite the emphasis on a bygone era that “Pre” suggests, the Pre-Vinylites are not are not a society of Luddites, shunning technology or advocating for a return to a “simpler” time. Pre-Vinyl does not equal Anti-Vinyl.

The Pre-Vinylites do wish, however, to commemorate the pre-vinyl era and they refuse to let the age-old traditions of the craft die out. The Pre-Vinylites are future-oriented—they care about tradition because they value posterity’s ability to access history. They believe that artistic vigilance in the face of mass conformity can deliver us from a homogenous existence.

Deriving their name from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of 19th century English artists and writers, the Pre-Vinylite Society aims to create signs, art, and writings that convey an astute cognizance of the aesthetic built environment and a desire to create new, forward focused art that respects the traditions and techniques of the past.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood rebelled against the tradition passed down from Raphael that taught a strict, almost rote approach to producing paintings. They felt that merely conforming to the conventions of previous masters made for art that was devoid of emotion because it lacked a sense of humanity and creativity. The PRB detailed their ambitions in four simple declarations:

1. to have genuine ideas to express;

2. to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;

3. to sympathize with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote;

4. and, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues

Much like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood from whom we derive our name, the Pre-Vinylite Society is made up of members who are observant of the aesthetic world around us and resistant to traditions that dictate easy, quick, and careless ways of making our art. Also like the Pre-Raphaelites, we Pre-Vinylites are writers and artists, striving to make our mission heard as well as seen.