Local Artist Justin Lim

Justin Lim is one of Fort Wayne’s talented local artists with a steady stream of nationwide commissions. His work is rooted in traditional, hand-painted, hand-crafted signs, and pinstriping on vehicles and other objects, including taxidermied fish – no computers, stencils or vinyl used. His work can be seen on the front windows of Bravas, regularly at Fancy & Staple, tattoo shops around the country and on his super sweet, super stylish Chevy Beauville van. Follow him on Instagram @old5anddimesignco for mesmerizing videos of his handiwork and creativity.

How has the Covid-19 crisis affected your business? What plans did you have to put off due to the stay at home orders? Thankfully I am usually booking out 3 to 4 months at a time, so the shutdown hasn’t really hit my business as hard yet. I was scheduled to travel all over the south for a month – Nashville to New Orleans then up to the Carolinas – painting at various shops along the way, but that has since been put on the back burner. Hopefully I can still get down there later this year!

Tell me a bit about your inspiration behind the deli signs? I love going to big cities like Indianapolis and Chicago and seeing these vibrant hand-painted signs in the windows at local neighborhood markets. I always wanted to start offering them to our own Fort Wayne businesses but never really had the time. I had a gallery event at Fancy & Staple downtown in 2018 where I painted a bunch of hip-hop lyrics and other silly sayings on paper in this classic deli window sign style. They all sold out super fast! One guy even said he drove down from Detroit to get one, then turned around and hustled back home for work the next day. It was a fun show.

How many businesses did you offer signs to? I reached out to about four local restaurants who are still doing carry out and curbside pick-up who have had me do their window lettering and other hand-painted signs. I also did one for Fancy & Staple downtown. I wanted to paint these for them for free to say thank you and to give back to them right now when they are in need as they have supported me over many years. I’ve had four other local businesses contact me for paper signs in the last week. I just finished up a set for Aaron’s Oriental Rugs on Broadway.

Any interesting plans for the coming months? Not really sure how this year will unfold. Usually I’m flying around the country spring through fall to letter storefront windows, but I feel like there will be much less of that this year since the virus is spreading and travel is limited. I hope everything smooths out soon and people can see their loved ones and we can all eat out, shop, and be merry again!

How can readers help support you and other local, independent artists during this time? I think this whole thing has really helped shine a light on how strong our community is and can be. There are many local artists coming up with new creative ways to keep busy during this quarantine. Social media has become an even better platform for artists to display the work they’ve been doing and to show what they have for sale. I post a bunch of my daily artwork on Instagram at @old5anddimesignco, and some are available for purchase. If anyone is interested in purchasing some local artwork, message me on Instagram and I’ll point you in the direction of other local artists who display their work on Instagram as well!


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