Marquee signs are making a comeback, and you don’t need to travel back in time to get your own. If you drive half an hour west of the city, you will reach Gas Light Electric, run by Scott Adamson. His work can be found all over town. The “C-O-F-F-E-E” sign at Equator Coffee, which I mentioned in my previous Apt613 article about the cafe, the “N-A-M-A-S-T-E” sign at Yogatown and the Union 11 sign are all examples of his bright and fun work. And the best thing about these pieces of art is that they are handmade!
After I hunted down the name of the creator of the eye-catching C-O-F-F-E-E sign, I decided I wanted to get my own piece made. Adamson and I initially corresponded through email. He drew up a blueprint of a couple of different typographical samples based on of my description and vision for the initial I wanted made. I tend to lean towards more of an industrial and minimalist feel, and Scott was able to successfully achieve it. From start to finish , the process took about 4 weeks before I was able to pick it up. It’s not every day that we get to take home a uniquely handmade piece!
Metal Work + Lights = Marquee Awesomeness
Adamson has, surprisingly, only been making these signs for just over a year. He traded in his camera and his photography career for the opportunity to start his own business and explore some new creative talents. When I picked up my custom piece, he kindly gave me the grand tour of his work shop. You wouldn’t know it unless you were told, but Adamson had zero background in metal or wood working prior to starting Gas Light Electric. Trial and error coupled with lots of YouTube video watching and a local welding course are how he learned to make the signs we see today. You won’t find fancy computers or laser cutters in the workshop. Rather, a decades-old Beverly shear and foot shear take up the majority of the space. Adamson mentioned that the quality of the machinery he uses can’t be bought in store and that he found the equipment through Kijiji.
The Future of Marquee Signs
There is no end in sight for these signs. The power of Instagram has helped propel Gas Light Electric. More and more individuals and businesses are reaching out to have their own masterpieces created. One thing that I found extraordinary about Adamson and his company is that he is always experimenting with new efficient techniques but will not compromise the quality of his work. And we all love a good old Canadiana plug. Everything but the bulbs and electrical cord are handmade. As it stands now, he has so many projects on the go and in the queue that he hasn’t had time to just play and create personal pieces. One day, Adamson would like to refurbish old cinemas. Even with gloves on, he often gets small cuts while working as he bends and shapes the metal. But it is a small price to pay to be living his dream and putting smiles on people’s faces. He certainly made my day when I picked up my “M” initial.