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Joe Swec

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Joe Swec Sign Painting

“​I am inspired by good design, old design, anything hand painted or hand made, anything tedious.”

Artist, sign painter and muralist. He always has paint on his hands. If you live in Austin, go thank Joe Swec for making it look cooler. Do it now, we'll wait.

Tell us about your path to becoming a sign painter.
I have always been into painting, drawing, graphic design, and lettering as a hobby. When I first moved here I took on all sorts of odd jobs, one was working at Decoder Ring doing their screen printing. I learned a lot from Paul Fucik and the others there about printing and design. At the same time my grandmother gave me an old scrap/sketch book of my grandfather's, filled with old lettering and calligraphy, which I got really excited about. Also at the same time I was helping my sister and brother-in-law paint murals under their collaborative art group Sodalitas. All of this let to me deciding to try to make a living painting signs and murals.


Who or what inspires you?
Good design, old design, anything hand painted or hand made, anything tedious.


Were you creative as a kid?

I wanted to be a cartoonist and drew a lot of cartoon strips. I also loved building things and construction, which is why I went into engineering before doing sign painting.


What do you like about living in Austin?

The people and the community. There's so much opportunity here to make a living doing what you want to do and love to do. Everyone is really supportive and helpful. And there is a ton of creativity, and support for creativity.


What is your typical day like?

I usually paint in the morning till around noon, then after lunch I catch up on emails, then I get back to painting till around 5pm. I try to only paint around 4 hours a day, but it often goes longer than that. Painting is pretty exhausting and anything more than 4 hours a day is hard mentally and physically.


What's your favorite food?

Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, schnitzel sandwich, breakfast burrito, jalapeño poppers, and pizza. Carbs I guess.

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