Iain Hursey of Hurfer Hand Painted Signs continues embracing DIY ethos as he proudly produces compelling, hand-painted signs that embody kustom kulture lines & styles. Preserving the styles and bold color schemes within classic imagery, Hursey proves that despite the shift to digital mediums, there will always be an appreciative audience that still demands hand-made work.
“I really cannot remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or appreciating art. I began screen printing merch designs for local bands at 15 and I was really into hardcore. I eventually started a label, Stability Records, and designed and produced all the merch for the bands. It was a lot to take on and certainly not glamorous, but I enjoyed going on tour and selling merch all over, a definite high point! I’d say the lowest point was working to keep up with the demand because pressing plants were a mess, even back then,” recalled Hursey.
Stability Records produced records for Bloodlet and Burst of Silence before folding in 1995. Hursey capitalized on his talents and focused solely on screen printing, honing his design skills and learning new techniques with his shop, Graphic 22.
“The company started in 1999, and by 2005 we had 45 people working, and we were at our peak! We were cranking out tons of merch, and people really liked what we were doing. At that time, independent breweries exploded, and I knew a lot of people starting their businesses. We worked with a lot of breweries on original designs and I looked at it like hardcore, you had a lot of creative, hardworking people doing it all on their own, utilizing a lot of DIY aspects. It was a great time seeing people work hard to independently create,” said Hursey.
Graphic 22 earned a great reputation and continued growing, but a devastating fire in 2018 gave Hursey pause and forced him to reevaluate his plans.
“That was such a tough experience for me to go through and really flipped everything upside down for me. I was getting burnt out from screen-printing because I had been doing it since the ‘90s. I was starting to just paint more and more and enjoyed it and it was a powerful reminder of just how much I still loved art. I was painting some signs for local businesses and just noticed how quickly people gravitated toward my work, which really meant a lot,” recalled Hursey.
Utilizing his business acumen with his passion for art, Hursey took on more commissions and Hurfer Hand Painted Signs was officially launched.
“I love the challenge! I like to mix it up to avoid the monotony and use some glass painting techniques or work with wood. Every commission is different and it’s nice to see the different tastes people have. The sizes and needs of customers vary greatly, so I feel engaged with all my work. It doesn’t offend me at all if customers reject some ideas because it offers the chance to push myself and ultimately complete their projects. I’m happy to see all the positive feedback online, and support has been great,” said Hursey.
Hurfer Hand Painted has earned well-over 200k supporters thanks to his wildly popular time-lapse videos and completed ‘warm-up’ posts. Working in a variety of mediums, Hursey completes woodcuts, glass paintings, and detailed custom signs. Additionally, he is available for custom commissions.
“I’m grateful for all of it because it just keeps things going and makes me feel fresh. Despite my experience, I am still pulling 100-hour work weeks! Maybe longer if I have a tight deadline! When COVID hit and everything shut down, I was working even more! It’s hard to say how long a typical piece takes because what I work on changes daily. I could be working on a 15 ft. sign for one client or a custom request like I just did for a wedding. This requires a lot of attention to detail and focus and I’m happy I have a long list of people that want my work,” said Hursey.
To avoid any kind of burnout, Hursey makes an effort to continue embracing activities that can clear his mind and offer perspective.
“You can always be passionate about your work, but at times, it can be healthy to take a step back. I’ve had to learn that over the years. To avoid burnout, I’ll take a trip and try to relax. It’s kind of like touring but without the music aspect. I can clear my mind, but when I return, I have what I call ‘vacation hands’ and then I have to work to start all over with painting. I love what I’m doing and feel immersed and grateful for the continued support from people that trust my vision when I work on a piece,” concluded Hursey.