Retrospective: Drawn to the Light

This week's post is our first guest post! Chris Bovey of Spokane, WA (my hometown) put together this photo blog which is total eye candy for those of us with an fondness for vintage design. (Don't mind the few references that only Spokane folks might get!) After reading, check out Chris's beautiful print work. Enjoy!

Take a look at this street scene above. Actually take a minute and look at all of the details in this photo. It is very easy to confuse this with a historic picture of Chicago or downtown Manhattan but this used to be Spokane, our home. It has always bugged me that Spokane does not look like this anymore, and it is partially because of the absence of rail cars- but a lot of it has to do with the signs. 

Back in the thirties and forties, signs were made with quality, instead of a big box light sign. Companies honed their craft and actually invested time and money into the design. There was so much neon just glancing down Main Street it makes you wonder, where did all of that go? It is so much cheaper and easier now to crank out a huge box light sign, but if you look closely you can still find traces of an amazing sign. 

From Browne's Addition to the Garland district, this electric craft is slowly making a comeback. And you might think that a sign is a sign, but have you ever felt nostalgic for those old drive in movie signs or even seen the Vegas welcome sign? Nobody ever feels nostalgic for a big rectangle. 

My first real job was a sign designer at a local sign company, and we tried to sell the well-designed sign, the high-quality, more expensive sign. But no one wants to pay for it. We had such a talented group of tradesmen, but all they were forced to do was crank out junk. 

And you might ask, what is the point of all of this? It's simply, don't do something because it's cheaper- do something because it's better. Quality makes a memory, quality makes an impact. People will always remember that amazing, huge, neon sign that was in front of that one business at that one time when they were kids, more than they ever would a big box.


Artist CHRIS BOVEY has a romantic idea, to cherish and capture the heart of Spokane. To glorify the beauty that makes a town feel like home. His work gravitates on the old and new iconic places and landmarks of the area and its signs. Each print is handmade, signed and numbered. Each one is made with care and you can now find Chris’ limited edition prints at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture gift shop, Atticus Coffee and Gifts, and vintagespokaneprints.com. Also follow him on Instagram @vintagespokane and Facebook