September 9, 2014
Forrest is devoted to a fair and old fashioned standard of craftsmanship; and has dedicated his life to many trades including sign painting. “Minneapolis has a long and continuous history of sign painting which has helped the receptiveness and popularity. My trade did not start in art school. In my opinion, it comes from the streets.”
My name is Forrest Wozniak. I was born and raised on Minneapolis’ south side. I’ve lived in Minneapolis for the majority of 33 years. I’ve lived in upstate New York and have had long stints in Washington, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. I’ve painted signs in Utah, Iowa, and Wyoming. I started painting signs for Ira Coyne in Olympia Washington in 2000. I proceeded to travel by train or car freight, painting signs in various small towns across the country including Pittsburg with Sean Barton. I settled in my Minneapolis home town and worked with Phil Vander Vaart for years and continue to work with Phil. Phil taught me the fundamentals of sign painting. Phil has been painting signs originally in Chicago since the early 80’s. I did not know that I was intending to stay here – but I had a family and settled in. I happily decided that my focus would be in cultivating local culture while helping to paint and build the world I wanted to see; as well as be a good dad and partner. In my youth I paid my dues through hard labor including building furniture, roofing, masonry and general construction.
Throughout the years, older men and women as masters of their trade have been my education. My sign painting career came from building and measuring. When I’m away from the Twin Cities I’m always reminded of the decadent recourses: such as accessibility to quality food and good coffee. The city I grew up in has changed with urban renewal. What were once railroad tracks are now bike paths. What was once old is not. For those of us who grew up under the landscape of grain silos and railroad tracks it has been an adjustment. Many of my peers and contemporaries have left. When I started sign painting with the support of my peers: such as the above mentioned by Sven and Japhy Witte, studios where dirt cheap. Ira Sven and I paid $400 for 2,400 square feet in what was once the spice factory that packaged cinnamon. It overlooked the union train yard in southeast Minneapolis. Affordable rent combined with our young ego and drive allowed us to feel as though we could make an effect on the urban landscape. An anti-corporate response to free enterprise and it’s advertisement. As Minneapolis has grown in size and prosperity you could say it has invited me along. I am thankful and aware of that privilege. We own our own house and our kids go to public school. I would hope that my business model would work anywhere signs are needed. I rarely am involved in grants or any other subsidies. My clients are general business owners with class and kindness and a general desire to know who they are paying, and for what. Sign painting has allowed me to work with some very talented people in design and business.
Minneapolis has a long and continuous history of sign painting which has helped the receptiveness and popularity. My trade did not start in art school. In my opinion, it comes from the streets. Survival of class, integrity and independence with an ear to the pavement. Made up of vocation, art, tradition, and public service. I am continually grateful at how the Twin Cities has responded and supported sign painting.
My favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities is to be in the woods. Fort Snelling State Park, Lillydale, Black Dog Road to name a few. But most often, swimming in the lakes. I’ve bought clothing and shoes at Kaplan and Robert Bros. as well as more recently from my friends at Familia Skate Shop and Black Blue in St. Paul. My boots are purchased at Nokomis shoes. I like Deco Tools on 31st and Bloomington because they fix tools. I enjoy supporting local businesses. I chose Las Terisitas Mexican Restaurant on 34th Ave because of it’s honest home cooking for the ‘common man’. I’m a fan of their $5 burritos on Mondays and $1 tacos on Tuesdays. The demographic it seems are army personnel from the near by base, and area locals from the Boston Terrace neighborhood, as well as those who heard it was good. It allows me to eat lunch, read my paper and move on with my day.
My sign shop and headquarters is located at 3753 Bloomington Ave South, Minneapolis, MN. 55405. Stop by anytime and say hello.