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03 Dec 2020

Virtual Insights: In the Studio with Noble Signs

Join us behind the scenes for a look inside the creative practice of Brooklyn-based design & fabrication studio Noble Signs. Artists, sign painters, and studio co-founders David Barnett and Mac Pohanka will discuss the vanishing art of hand-painted signs in New York City, demo various techniques, and reflect on historic signage featured in the museum’s current exhibition American Perspectives.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

After registering for the program, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions and the Zoom link for joining the program via computer or mobile device at the end of the email under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided. Please email if you have any questions.


David Barnett is a graphic artist from New York City. As a Creative Director, he has worked in design, illustration, apparel, publishing, branding, and signage. In 2013, he co-founded his own studio called Noble Signs, specializing in branding and signage. His illustrations have been featured on the album covers of Curren$y, Ski Beatz, and Murs; he has also done illustration and design for Erykah Badu, Future Islands, Bun B, Real Estate, and Cam’ron and Jim Jones of the Diplomats, among others. In the spring of 2014 he held his first solo exhibition at Poppington Gallery in the Lower East Side, including digital illustration, several large paintings, and works in neon and LED light. He exhibited in four other New York area shows that year, in addition to exhibiting at Miami Art Basel. In 2016, he self-released his first book, Green Sky, in a limited edition of 300 copies. As a designer with Noble Signs, he has worked with clients including Pentagram, Gensler, the Art Students League, Whitney Museum, Lawrence Wiener, Yoko Ono, Afropunk, BMW/Mini, Opening Ceremony, and Marlow & Sons, among others. He has been featured in The New York Times, T Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, Clutch Magazine, Complex Magazine, Mass Appeal, The Daily News, and more.


Mac Pohanka is a gilder, fabricator and designer. Since 2013, he has been the co-owner of Noble Signs. He started his work in painted finishes and fabrication in high school, working for his father John Pohanka, a fine furniture maker in New England. Graduating in 2008 from Grinnell College with a BA in American Studies, Pohanka moved to New York and studied gilding at the decorative hardware studio Van Gregory and Norton. Soon after he began working as a production designer and prop fabricator in film. During this time, he produced work for Bjork, Encyclopedia Picture, IKEA, Fisher Price and many others. Since founding Noble Signs, he has designed and built storefronts and conceptual signage for a wide variety of clients nationally and internationally.


Images: Courtesy of Noble Signs and S.D. Plum Tavern Sign; Artist unidentified; Probably Meriden, Connecticut; 1813; Paint on pine with iron; 51 x 34 x 3″; Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York; Gift of Ralph Esmerian; Photo by John Bigelow Taylor.

Support for 2020 remote public programs is provided by Art Bridges and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Online; free with registration