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TJ Guzzardi


29th August, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 29th August 2013

The Tullamarine workshop of custom sign painter TJ Guzzardi.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

TJ starts work on a new project.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

Details from the Tullamarine workshop of custom sign painter TJ Guzzardi.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

TJ Guzzardi in his studio.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

OK so I must admit this isn't exactly scoop of the century - custom sign painter TJ Guzzardi has received a fair bit of well deserved local press in recent months, but BY GOLLY I just love his work and his story so much, you'll understand why I had to get him on here for MAN WEEK!

Working from a warehouse in Tullamarine, TJ does custom lettering and handpainted vintage-style signs for all kinds of clients and applications - restaurants, cafes, bars, tattoo shops, barber shop, cars and bikes, as well as creating custom art pieces.  Though his business only officially launched last year, his impressive list of clients already includes PorteñoBuffalo Dining ClubChingón Taco Truck and Uppercut Deluxe, to name a few.

After first picking up a paint brush when he was 15, TJ started out doing pinstriping for his Dad's Hot Rod shop.  'I was exposed to this life style as a very young age, as my parents were very involved in the 1950's culture' TJ explains.  Years later, a friend who owned a tattoo shop asked TJ to paint him a sign - his first proper job as a sign painter!  Everyone loved the result - a 3.5 x 1.5 metre piece handpainted on glass, so TJ left some business cards at the tattoo parlour, and with word of mouth, his business just kept on growing.

Eventually, there was enough work to enable TJ to quit his day job and turn his hobby into a fully fledged business in February 2012.  He set up shop in his Tullamarine workshop, and has been working there ever since.

TJ's skill (and impressively steady hand!) is entirely self taught.  His work is influenced by an obvious affection for yesteryear, and all things salvaged and collected over time.  He is forever foraging for second hand and found materials to support his craft.  'I love council clean up!' he says 'I find all my materials there to paint on'.  These found items form an ever-growing inspiration board on the walls of TJ's incredible little workshop, and influence much of his work.

TJ's modest goal with his sign painting business is simply to create signs that look 'nice, simple and effective'.  He is not preoccupied with an over 'designed' look, preferring instead to try and recreate signs that look like they were made over 40 years ago.  'I like to think that if you took a photo of one of my signs today with a black and white filter, you wouldn't know they were painted in 2013!' he says.

There is an excellent and quite recent little film about TJ here - well worth a look!  You can also check out more of his epic work on his blog or his Facebook page (for slightly more regular updates), and his instagram (@tjguzzardi) is also VERY good.

All sign painting enquiries, email TJ direct here.

Detail from the workshop of custom sign painter TJ Guzzardi.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

TJ in his workshop.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email