Sign Graphics • Digital Printing • Photomurals - Text for storyboards 1 to 9




1. Hand-lettering and painting - signs, boats, pictures


Trained in hand-lettering by 84-year-old Mario Carmosino in the Sign Division of Butera School of Art, Charlie learned the tradition of clarity.  


Free-hand execution of 62 characters and numerals in three major styles at any size establishes a pragmatic basis for visual communication.  


Having viewed the 186 basic characters in all sizes and at all distances, indoors and out, Charlie can discern the effectiveness of a graphic for a given setting.


Direct layout around fittings and rigging on boats allows fine precision and a natural appearance in the finished result.  Note how the graphics are arranged near seams, but not over them.


Eventually Charlie designed fonts to simulate his hand-lettering in vinyl.  Available only through him, these hand-crafted fonts facilitate photographic mock-ups for approval by email.


Charlie's precise sign craftsmanship typically has accuracy to 1/16 or 1/32 of an inch.





2. America's Cup Yachts - Stars & Stripes, Mighty Mary, Young America


An experienced writer and photographer for Signs of the Times magazine, Charlie approached the Stars and Stripes syndicate about documenting America's Cup graphics for an article.  Given opportunity, Charlie bid on and landed the work itself.


Dennis Conner commented that the Stars and Stripes lettering was "one of the most impressive gold leaf graphic works [he had seen] in more than 40 years of sailing and observing sailboats."


Gold Leaf is a delicate material which requires great awareness of atmospheric factors in delivering the best possible result.  Expertise makes the difference between an adequate and a spectacular result.   


Goetz Custom Boats, Bristol, RI subsequently invited Charlie back to work on other America's Cup contenders - Mighty Mary and two Young America boats.


The following pages demonstrate Charlie's adaptation to supergraphics and racing shells, and incidentally to working alongside others as high-end craft are built.




3. Supergraphics - Sleighride, Chessie, Inferno, Shaman, Nixie


Reputation for quality, by word of mouth, has been a great asset for Charlie.


Sleighride and Chessie were both done at Goetz Custom Boats in Bristol, RI.  Sleighride hails from Nantucket.  Chessie is the Loch Ness equivalent of Chesapeake Bay.  These boats were executed with spray masks in conjunction with Itchiban Painters.  


Shaman was executed with a combination of spray masks and hand painting in Mamaroneck, NY, also with Itchiban Painters.


Inferno, with a fireball on the bow and trailing flames, was rendered in vinyl.  Charlie packed his gear in a van and drove to Chicago, IL to make fine-tune measurements before cutting the vinyl on site.


Nixie began with a paper-cut mermaid design supplied by the owner.  Charlie added a fine outline, graduated greens to suggest swimming under water, and an embossed effect to suggest dimension.  He designed multiple outlines and shadows for the name done in silver.  Charlie installed the artwork at New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, RI.




4. Racing shell graphics - Brown University, Smithsonian Design Museum


The "shark-bear" for the Women's Crew of Brown University evolved through collaboration with Michael Joukowsky, co-founder of Resolute Racing Shells, Bristol, RI.


Charlie designed and stretched a totem-like graphic, based on the Brown Bear, so the lower teeth and tongue appeared to devour water as the shell surged forward.  Due to time constraints, he hand-painted the graphic in alkyd enamel as a one-off solution, instead of working with masks and spray paint.


Unforeseen advantages emerged from the hand-painting.  1) The design could be rendered with greater accuracy by hand on curved surfaces.  2) The painted edge of the design was smooth, whereas the edges from a spray mask would require sanding.


The Women's Crew won the National Championship, and Brown University subsequently ordered the hand-painted graphic on every replacement racing shell.  The Women's Crew has now won 8 National titles, and students applying to Brown speak of wanting to "race on the bear."


In all, Charlie has hand-painted about 18 shark-bears, including two on "singles" and several on "fours," with the rest being on "eights."  One of the "singles" has been exhibited in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, NYC, seen in the lower-right clipping.





5. Action Photography - Bjorn Borg tennis, Cape Cod Baseball League


Documenting signs with photography led Charlie to discover that the lens can see better than the naked eye.  Study and experiment revealed how shutter speed, camera vibration, aperture, lens type, focus, and stray light influence image sharpness before light reaches the image plane.


Charlie has published 70 articles illustrated by photographs.  During three years as Contributing Editor at Signs of the Times magazine, Charlie wrote technical articles about hardware and software, featuring photographs of real projects.


Smart features of modern cameras save time and effort, but they do not replace know-how in the mind behind the camera - fundamentals still apply, even with smart technology.


The action photos show 1) Bjorn Borg winning the Mentadent Champions Tennis Tournament singles title at Willowbend in Mashpee, MA and 2) the Cape Cod Baseball League, where major league prospects play during college.  


A unique thing happened when Charlie took photos of past and future stars - the camera would tell him that Bjorn Borg looked at peace while competing at tennis, or that a future baseball star displayed great form.  Charlie could "see" a story through the camera lens.





6. FDR Memorial carving documentary - National Archives, Washington, DC


An interview for a feature article on John Benson of the historic John Stevens Shop, Newport, RI, revealed that Benson had been selected to execute the inscriptions in stone for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC.  Charlie secured access to the construction site and documented Benson at work amidst heavy machinery and mud puddles.

Signs of the Times headlined the debut of the FDR Memorial with Charlie's cover story one full month before other magazines or news media featured the upcoming event.  Charlie also gained recognition for more reporting.

Aware of the stone-carving photographs, the FDR Memorial Commission gave Charlie a press pass for the official dedication of the Memorial, when dignitaries would speak and the public would first be given access.

The droves of press photographers were relegated to bleachers in back of the guests, including prominent Senators and high-ranking administration officials.  Speakers included President Clinton and CBS luminary Mike Wallace.  

The FDR Memorial Commission chose Charlie's photographs above others as gifts for the President and Senators, and for placement in the National Archives.  The Park Service features Charlie's photographs in the official guide sold at the Memorial.





7. Da Vinci discoveries - articles & prints in Art Library, Sforza Castle, Milan


Charlie worked for a summer in a factory in Milan, Italy near the Naviglio Grande.  It was taught in school, and locals always said, "Leonardo made these canals."  In reality the canals evolved from Roman times, and Leonardo supervised them while serving as Ducal Engineer.

With the encouragement and hospitality of friends, Charlie traced the Milanese canal system on foot.  The Raccolta Vinciana, which publishes Vincian studies every other year, printed two articles of his research.


In the first article Charlie located irrigation outlets on the Naviglio Grande, cited in Leonardo's will.  While regulating water levels, Leonardo invented a system of measuring water flow and so derived income from the water tax.  Charlie compared his photographs of the location with historical art of the vicinity.

For the second article, Charlie walked in Leonardo's footsteps around a ring of canals long since covered.  He verified Leonardo's measurements and collated the information graphically on a modern map.  After examining the original document, Charlie concluded that Leonardo began making a city map on a 1 to 10,000 scale, not merely a diagram of the canal system.


A bottom right, the close-up detail of an ancient print reveals Leonardo showing a plan of the canals, similar to the diagrams at the top of the page.  That print honors Leonardo's work on the Conca dell'Incoronata, a lock on the Martesana canal.  The corresponding photo at lower left shows remains of that lock.


Charlie's large-format landscape prints of the Milanese canals, as they appear today, reside in the Art Library of the Sforza Castle.





8. Photo-mural, storyboard banner - Grand Canyon at Uncle Jon's Coffee


Camera handling requires adaptability for spontaneous situations, and the skill of extracting the most from limited means.  A pocket camera can take remarkable pictures in the hands of a discerning photographer, as was the case in the 1940's, but the image must be examined minutely to determine suitability for large-format results.

These photos of the Grand Canyon were taken at less than maximum capacity of the camera - proof of Charlie's knowledge of camera handling and image quality.  Picture quality counts more than mega file size.

The storyboard on the back cover of this album demonstrates rigorous understanding of imaging.  Any one of the images along the border could be enlarged independently to 2 x 3 foot size.  The storyboard could be enlarged with very good quality to cover the entire wall.  

To produce a 4 x 6 foot image with confidence, a sign expert must look at both the image sharpness of the original photograph and the image definition of the file being printed.  The expression, "measure three times and cut once" could never be more true than in the field of imaging for large format printing.

Charlie can evaluate and enlarge your image, take photos for a special purpose storyboard, produce an exterior banner, print your picture on canvas, or show you other functional options.  Let Charlie's discerning eye can save you from expensive redo's.





9. Digital Imaging - figure and landscape treatments, lettering effects


Imagine any of these imaging effects combined with examples from previous pages.


For polished illustrations, you could 1) cut a life-size figure from a photograph,  2) create a color pencil greeting card, or 3) add an oil-paint impasto or watercolor effect to a subject.


For lettering, you could  1) create a pattern or texture for a name, as with clouds for "Guys",  2) run words transparently over an image,  3) put an image or graphic in the shadow of the letter,  4) add embossing, outlines, and shadows to simulate gold leaf, fabric, and other materials,  or 5) add shimmering airbrush effects by utilizing blends and gradations.


Charlie's work has been enlarged and reduced as shown at the top and bottom of the page.


1) He published the Color Standard print test while Contributing Editor for Signs of the Times magazine, and the eye is shown enlarged to about 3 feet wide.  2) On the other hand, his notorious "tennis chicken," printed on shirts for a USTA team trip to the Nationals, is shown reduced for USPS postage stamps.


Large or small, Charlie's work has been tested at the extremes.