Saturday, August 17, 2013

My "Pub Sign"

One of my good friends is Jillian, an English lady who owns The Chattaway, a dining establishment that has graced St. Petersburg for decades. Earlier in this blog (here), I posted about how old-fashioned bathtubs have become the quirky signature of Jillian's restaurant.

Today there are more than 40 such tubs, of which this is but one. (I took this photograph one morning before the place opened, otherwise you'd see a good crowd.)

When The Chattaway was in need of new signage, and given Jillian's heritage, I suggested the look of a classic British pub sign. Jillian produced a favorite note card that was just six inches wide, and that became the basis for the design.

Unfortunately, when a design that small is blown up to nearly 40" wide, it rasterizes, which is another way of saying that it degrades into an ugly blur of pixels.

So I took the image into Adobe PhotoShop and put it through a series of filters that posterized and enhanced the edges, with a result that looks as clean on close inspection as at a distance.


  1. Rasterize, another new term. So many English words to memorize and now that I'm getting older, forgetting many words from my native language.
    Mark, you have designed a beautiful pub design, but then, I expect nothing less from you.
    Have a wonderful weekend, Gina

    1. Dear Gina,

      "Rasterize" is a word that comes to us with the Digital Age, and yet I unfortunately see many things rasterized now. When I take photographs with my digital camera, I always use the largest format. I get fewer images per memory chip that way, but if I want to use a photograph as reference for a large painting, I can use that photograph without it rasterizing. As for forgetting words from your native language, you'll just have to plan more of those wonderful European vacations!

  2. Dear Mark - is there no end to your talents. The sign is very attractive and must have delighted Jillian.
    Here I must confess my own attraction to British Pub signs. I have been photographing them for two or three years - each is different, you never see any that are the same. I feel that the illustrative talent that goes into them is not general appreciated or even considered. They are little pieces of art work in their own right.
    One day I will do a post showing some of the images I have collected.
    By the way I find them very difficult to photograph - I always feel as if I need a stepladder to get me up level with them.

    1. Dear Rosemary,

      I keep a file of English pub signs because I consider them an art unto themselves. Do you remember my posting on the American artist Michael Schwab? I think that I am attracted to his work because it has the crisp feel of the best of English pub signs!

      I do hope you create a posting on the signs you've collected — I'd love to see them!

  3. Hello Mark, That is an amusing and inviting sign. I like the color combination, and especially the way the flowers are spilling over the tub, with the ones at the end seemingly beckoning to you.

    1. Hello, Jim.

      As you can see from the last image, the finished sign was a little longer than the original design, so those beckoning tendrils play an important function of balancing the design. I was pleased that the flowers reached between the two "t"s, which allowed the image to be a tad larger while also closing a typographic gap.

  4. Hello Mark!
    Once again, I'm so impressed with your work! This pub sign is wonderful-- and the Chattaway sounds like such a fantastic place to share a pint...! It's amazing how you were able to create such a beautiful finished image from what I would have mistaken for an unusable original source-- it must have taken ages (and great skill)to do! Well done you!
    Warm regards,

    1. Hello, Erika,

      Thanks for your kind words! The Chattaway does have a fun atmosphere, somewhere between a Key West bar and an English tea house — Jillian also serves high tea (but one has to make reservations for that)!

      Best wishes,


  5. Looks really good, Mark. You did a great job. Does that mean you get to eat for free for awhile?

    I love High Tea. I would travel all the way to Florida if I could to have tea and look at all the bathtubs. What a fun place.

    Mark, I've been meaning to tell you: the Florida that you reveal to us is so different from the Florida I've always imagined. But then I've only ever known people who went to Miami and its environs.

    P.S. I love British pub signs too. :)

  6. Dear Yvette,

    I don't get free meals per se at the Chattaway, but Jillian did celebrate the sign with champagne and a lovely dinner for mutual friends. I often visit Jillian before the restaurant opens, and I always enjoy complimentary coffee then.

    St. Petersburg is often lumped together with Tampa, but the two cities have completely different atmospheres. St. Petersburg has the atmosphere of a small town in the sense that it's not unusual to walk around town and run into people one knows. Ironically, its reputation for that is attractive, and I worry about it becoming over-developed.

  7. So is posterize the opposite of rasterize?

    We don't get too much opportunity to eat outside in the Norteast so this place looks very appealing to me.

    Beautiful sign, by the way.

    1. Hi, Steve,

      If rasterize had an opposite, my guess is that it would be "high definition." Simply put, if something is rasterized, one can see the individual pixels (as they form choppy edges). For that reason, a photograph that is 300dpi always appears sharper than one that is 72dpi because it is the difference between 300 pixels fit into one inch as opposed to 72 pixels fit into one inch (dpi means "dots per inch"). While "dpi" applies to digital images, it first referred to the size of dots in a halftone screen.

      On the other hand, something posterized has had its subtler tones consolidated, like a high-contrast photograph.

      I hope that helped!

  8. thats so charming! You're a very prolific artist I must say.