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Incredibly gratifying video shows that this city worker painting streets is a true craftsman

April 2, 2014 | By Abraham | 40 comments

If you had to list everything that fascinates you, it’s safe to say that footage of city workers painting lines on the road wouldn’t make it on the list. But maybe it should…

London designer Tom Williams saw a crew of painters working their way down the road painting various signs on the street. He knew they were going to paint a bus stop sign outside his apartment, so he set up his camera to record their work.

And that work is genuinely amazing. You’d think that street painting would be a pretty basic process requiring little specialized skill or technique, but if this clip is any indication, that is far from the case.

With the help of his assistant, this painter confidently applies perfect yellow lettering onto the street freehand. No stencils and no mistakes…

(via Booooooom)

40 Comments

    1. Trevor W says:

      I noticed the same thing. Even though there are no stencils, there were already marks for the letters. Still a half decent video, however.

  1. Lorcan says:

    “You’d think that street painting would be a pretty basic process requiring little specialized skill or technique,”

    pretty condescending thing to think?

    1. Brendt Wayne Waters says:

      Not in the least. He said that you’d think that the process didn’t REQUIRE special skills, not that anyone who performs the process doesn’t have special skills.

  2. ER says:

    While incredibly impressive, this begs the question: why NOT use stencils? That would both be much faster and require much less expertise, allowing for untrained personnel to do the job, saving the city tons of money…

    1. edjarvis says:

      Very boring reply warning… a practiced hand is much quicker than a stencil. With a stencil you have to stick it down, make sure it seals well against the ground, be careful not to let any paint spread underneath, and you’ve no idea what it really looks like until you peel it up. If theres any mistakes/paint seepage you’ve then got to waste time repairing them.
      These chaps are experienced, skilful, and very quick, if stencils were more efficient you can guarantee they’d have suggested/be using them. Remember these markings have to stick around for years, you cant get any old bert to do it. Otherwise, as Melinda says, you’d get BOS STUP written everywhere with fuzzy edges. so thats why not er.

      1. bobshin says:

        Found this out painting the all the rooms in my new house. Taping was a huge pain and took hours- and bleeding was a problem. When I learned to paint in a straight line- with the right brush- the results were far better, it took much less time and I didn’t have to spend a fortune on removable tape.

    2. Aran says:

      I seriously doubt a stencil would take less time! Stencils are big & clumsy, need careful placing, prone to bleed and smudging and need cleaning after, careful storage. X (suspect they may also get hot as the paint is heated to help it flow properly, or am I thinking tar) Training is still needed to use stencils efficiently. This team were pretty darn fast and efficient and made no mess with less equipment. Investing a little time to train people makes for better work times (less correction of mistakes, less cleaning up, better, more careful work needing less repair later …) We need more people with such confidence and able to acquire any and all skills or the whole world is on the cheap and nasty.
      With either method, practise makes perfect and these guys are well practised.

    3. David says:

      In fact, stencils would NOT have been faster than these two guys. There are chalked guidelines that outline the field being painted, but you could see a practiced hand here. the problem with stencils is the paint runs under them, and thus time is added to correct the excess.

  3. Melinda says:

    Stencils here in the U.S. haven’t stopped us from finding the occasional “SHCOOL” painted in the road… Or SOTP…

  4. mr Dee says:

    “You’d think that street painting would be a pretty basic process requiring little specialized skill or technique”

    Why would you think that?

    1. D5Design3r says:

      You’d think that because it could essentially be achieved by stencilling, something that isn’t generally that difficult. However, seeing someone freehand this with no mistakes (whether there were guides or not) is pretty impressive, and I for one didn’t know that this is how they are painted.

  5. David says:

    No Brasil são necessários 5 para pintar, 8 para misturar a tinta e 1 pra supervisionar se não demora uns 15 dias.

  6. Nacio Brown says:

    What I don’t get is that you see the guy stepping on the freshly painted lines without any apparent tracking of wet paint as he walks around. Also, no cones placed so that cars won’t drive over the wet paint (though I suppose the signs could be out of the frame). Must be instant-drying paint. Or??

    1. deano says:

      because all roads are different widths and sizes so there isnt a one size fits all stencil you could use…. i work with these guys and see how they work, they adjust their signs to the road they are working on

    1. Aran says:

      If that was a sign standing up it would read Bus Stop. We read road signs like they were signs blown over, not as the words scroll under our wheels. If a bus stop was realllllllly long …
      I think speed has something to do with it too. Motorway signs perhaps but what buses stop on motorways on a sign requiring basis? … ;¬)

    1. Aran says:

      Deft, not daft. ‘London designer’ suggests that perhaps this is a London bus stop? In Britain we drive on the left hand side of the road so this sign is facing the oncoming traffic correctly. Since you are Truck boy not Lorry Lad, I suspect you are used to right hand drive.

      1. Possum says:

        I think Bus Boy was having a bit of a laugh. A joke, you see. Awww, ruins it when you have to explain it, right?

  7. Stefan says:

    I love the hand behind his back. An artist’s pose. And the sped up film makes it look like some old genuine craftsman from the 20:ies or something. Of course they use marks in the street and that handy broomstick to help make everything straight.

    In Sweden, I have seen more and more street writing done by printers attached to special cars that dot out the words pretty much like an old dot matrix printer. Doesn’t come out as pretty as this craftsman’s work but would certainly be more effective and cheap.

  8. Aran says:

    Have you ever tried freehanding an S? Even with guidelines. This man has practised, a lot. Thanks Tom Williams, that was grand.

  9. Pat says:

    The paint is thermoplastic and is applied [very] hot, the ‘assistant’ is drawing it of a hot cauldron on the back of their lorry. The chalk marks on the road are normally just the outer corners of each letter. These blokes are skilled at their job, watch them paint a ‘school’ warning triangle on a road surface. And yes they aren’t paid much so I’m told

  10. sara says:

    I’m most impressed that he never steps in the lines he just painited. Boy, did it make me nervous. lol.

  11. Islander says:

    Excellent, 1 arm behind his back, old school. These are the guys the Daily Mail are always picking on and calling bungling..more talent than a lot of their reporters.

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