Meet guest Spotlight, Bohie Palecek ! Sign painter and freelance designer from Australia!
Introduce yourself. Who you are, what you do.
Hey yo what’s up! My name is Bohie Palecek, I’m 28 years old and currently residing in Adelaide, Australia. For the last 5 years I’ve been bouncing around within and between Australia, America and Canada; freelance designing, making art, exhibiting and practicing the humbling craft of Traditional Sign Painting.
What inspired you to become a sign painter?
Hmmmm I don’t like computers ha. Nah it’s been a long time coming really..
My parents were ceramicists and artists who brought me up to live self sustainably with a strong appreciation of the hand made and the hand grown, so I’ve always been interested in the Path of the Light-of-Foot, so to speak.. Low impact on my surroundings..
While studying art and graphic design here in Australia I felt a strong gravitational towards tactile graphic design; screen printing and collage, hand drawn lettering and physical textures. I like design that has feeling, an energy to it, some sort of organic authenticity.
I wanted to find a middle ground between art and graphic design..
After graduating, I lasted about 6 months in a design firm before throwing in the towel on computer generated design practices, but at the time craft was still a dirty word. The hand made had definitely lost it’s charm here during the 90’s and two thousands.
I was watching a new movement taking shape in the States with hand made craft at it’s roots, and moved there within a month of quitting my job. I drooled over the hand made markets in Portland, interned with an illustrator and then a screen printer in Philly, then travelled over land to be mentored by a young sign painter in Austin.
That whole trip really opened my eyes up to what a designer can do. I knew the life of the office was not for me, but I was still really passionate about design, and finding a way to create (what I considered to be) art for a client.
Sign painting really suited me, it’s still graphic design but stripped back to it’s rawest state I guess.
As well as the technical side of sign painting, in Austin I learnt about the integral relationship between hand crafted elements, like sign painting, and well crafted elements, like quality logo’s and branding. They go hand in hand. Good design doesn’t yell at you or fight for your attention, it’s like a warm invitation, has a quiet confidence, an agelessness. You’re just drawn to it. So, just like graphic design – hand painted signs need to be well designed to be success.
After returning to Australia I set about researching and discovering what makes certain visual communication successf and what doesn’t, and sign painting came along for the ride! haha
Do you work as a freelance artist?
Yeah! When I’m asked to. My ‘day job’, so to speak, is a freelance designer and traditional sign painter.
I create logo’s, signage, T-shirt illustrations, wine labels, murals, packaging and stuff like that – and most of it by hand.
Usually my clients come to me because I don’t use many computer fonts in my designs, and always aim to have at least one hand drawn element in each piece.
More and more, though, I’m getting asked to draw whatever I want for a client, and then I feel like a freelance artist. I’ve had some wicked clients recently (from all over the world which is totally amazing and humbling), that come to me and say just do you! Then I’m all like ‘Whaaaaah?!’Weeeeeeeeeee! And then I freak out and sit there for a minute wondering what to draw haha
What is your favorite part about what you do?
Well, I definitely adore the craft of sign painting. It’s amazing! It’s slow and patient and a bloody hard challenge.. it’s quiet and calming, there’s a process to it. The brush becomes an extension of yourself and your intention, so you need a clear mind to paint well.
On good days I slip in to a bit of a zen-like state, like when you’re in yoga or out hiking and you just get into the groove of it. I finish those work days physically exhausted but mentally buzzing.
I’ve also been blessed to travel the world with my craft, and have immensely enjoyed meeting some incredibly epic people along the way. Be they clients, contemporaries, mentors, patrons, whatever baby, it’s all good.
In fact, between art and BMX I am one bonkers lucky girl to just be rolling with some of the most humbled, down to earth, stoked crews. People that just get psyched on the act of BEING.
Name some artists that inspire you.
Andy Goldsworthy is a guru of the natural world. He really immerses himself in his environment and collaborates with it, instead of just imposing his humanity on to it, and I really respect that. Zero ego.
Caleb Everitt has always been a design influence for sure. His work has a very confident nonchalance to it that tickles me nostalgically; like an old man living in a cabin, chopping wood in an old woolen sweater that’s kept him warm for decades, or this old Levi’s denim jacket I found in a thrift shop that still smells like diesel. Yeah, ha you can tell, his work has a very visual effect on me.
Steve Powers. Love Letters to Philly were a big influence. A commercial art project featuring huge hand painted murals of shameless optimism plastered over drab brick walls and grey city scape’s, all found on this one train line in Philadelphia. I like that.
I’m very drawn to the folk arty element of female artists Mel Kadel, Carson Ellis and Joy Hester. All three have a real delicacy about them, presented with a real strength of feminine character and quirkiness.
M.I.A is a fantastic influence as well, she’s very inspiring.
Can your art be purchased?
Aaah, yes and no haha – If I have an art show coming up I’ll be Instagram’ing about it (@bohie) or talking about it on my website (www.bohiepalecek.com). Outside of art for art’s sake, my design work is created on a commission to commission basis.
Do you have any advice for people who wish to become an sign painter?
If you can dream it, you can do it! haha that pretty much works with anything, though.
If you’re super keen, you’ll find a way hey. Start researching, keep your eyes peeled for any sign painting workshops or classes in your area, and there’s even some online workshops and tutorials going these days. There’s LOADS of old books on the subject, and don’t be scared to approach your local sign painter and ask if you can come around and pick their brains. If you’re stoked and hungry to learn, I’m sure they’ll be psyched on that.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ah man, I’ve never really been able to plan ahead like that. A few years ago I cod barely see myself one month ahead, then with age and experience that grew to three month, then six month brackets. I suppose now I’m moving more in one or maaaaybe two year commitments.. But I’ve known for a long time that my physical space can change at the drop of the hat. Opportunities come out of no where and I’ve always been adamant to maintain a lifestyle position where I’m able to take them when they do.
This year I’m traveling within Australia teaching workshops and speaking publicly for the first time, and that’s really exciting. I know from my own experience and what I’ve learnt – it’s important to pass on dying skills and encourage people to pioneer their own paths.
Personally, I’m in a position now to pick and choose my clients and collaborations, and that’s a pretty amazing place to be as a designer. Traveling with these skills has helped me find purpose and community on a world wide scale, and there will always be more travel on the horizon.
So, in five years – wherever I am in the world, whatever project I’m working on (or maybe I’ll even be taking a well earned hiatus by then ha) – I do know I want to spend my time in this sort of lifestyle collaboration with like-minded individuals, using our energetic exchange to fuel our individual creativity. It’s important to me that I’m living a life that not just allows me to create to the best of my abilities, but enables those around me to do the same; whether that be through conversations, teaching, exhibiting, or just getting stoked on life together.