Sean Starr: Traditional Sign Painter

One day when driving through the small town of Calvert, Texas, I noticed a new store had opened on the once nearly empty Main street. The sign read "Signs" and the window featured beautiful gold leaf artwork and read "Starr Studios." In Calvert with a population of just over 1,100 people, the restored and now ornately decorated building really stood out among the largely abandoned buildings making up most of the town. Peaking through the windows it didn't look like any sign shop I had ever seen, in fact, it looked more like a mix of hip antique store and a museum of advertising, but since it was closed I just snapped a few pics and continued on my way. 

After getting home I looked up the Studio's Instagram account a feed full of historic photos and awesome commercial artwork. The description said "Kustom Paint: Signs, Pinstriping, Flames & Gold Leaf. A Texas Family Tradition Since 1977. We Speak Fluent Hot Rod." Wanting to know more I reached out about doing a story, I never expected that I would soon be meeting one of the preeminent sign painters in the country, Sean Starr.

For nearly 40 years Sean has been practicing the art of traditional sign painting, pinstriping, and lettering, a craft he learned from his father. Sean takes pride in carrying on the legacy of the business his father founded in 1977, Starr Kustom Paint. Based in San Antonio Starr quickly became 'the' place to have your hot rod or custom car pinstriped and lettered in South and West Texas. Sean began working with his father out of the back of his 72' Chevy station wagon at the age of 14, custom painting everything from airplanes and custom cars to Willie Nelson's tour bus.

Since then Sean has worked on projects across the US for clients that include Sony Music, Indian Motorcycle, The GAP, NBC, and celebrity clients like Reese Witherspoon, Lindsay Buckingham, and the top car collectors and custom shops. Sean spent a number of years working in the San Franciso Bay Area, but returned to Texas, first to Denton, then eventually moving to Central Texas, opening the studio in Calvert. After meeting Sean he agreed to let me shadow him on some of his painting jobs to capture some images and see his process. 

It all starts with a mock-up of the artwork, once approved by the client, an appointment is set. Since a large portion of his work is done at the client's home or business, Sean's office can be anywhere in the State of Texas and beyond. Sean sketches the design in pencil and using a special sign paint, free-hands the design directly onto the vehicle or surface. In addition to traditional sign painting, Sean is also a master of Verre Églomisé, the art of combining paint with gold or silver leaf on glass, a technique that has been practiced by artists since the pre-Roman era.

Starr Studio's Calvert location isn't just Sean's working sign painting shop and studio, it includes retail space offering custom artwork, apparel, and unique vintage finds. It has also become the hub for the local car community hosting a monthly "Classic Car Cruise-In" on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Situated in the heart of Calvert's historic district, the studio is just one of a number of artisan businesses that have revitalized the tiny town, which now is home to art galleries, wine tasting rooms, boutique coffee shops, and more, making it a popular day-trip destination for surrounding communities. 

Sean is available for custom projects big and small, he still travels across the country working on projects for both corporate clients and private collectors, you can learn more or inquire about custom work at

Enjoy more photos below: