the premierethe moviethe paneliststhe sponsors

A distinguished panel of artists from the Midwest sign painting community will join together in a post-screening panel discussion about the movie and this almost lost art:

Bill Diaz, owner, Diaz Sign Art in Pontiac, IL. Bill received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Penn State in 1976. He has operated Diaz Sign Art since 1979. In 2009 Bill & his family were named Pontiac, IL citizens of the year & received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award for their work hosting the 2008 Walldog event "Chief City Runs With the Dogs." Bill's work has has appeared in Signcraft, Sign of the Times, Sign Builders, Sign Business and Letterheads magazines among others. Bill names his mentors as his father, William L. Diaz, and mother, Virginia Whitley; Al Heinrichs of Pontiac Painting and Decorating and the many fine craftsman who worked over the years at McCoy Construction of Pontiac, Illinois. He has been happily married since 1978 & has 3 sons & 4 grandsons. Bill is a retired coach for the Pontiac Chiefs JFL Youth Football program. In his spare time, Bill likes to brew his own beer, play guitar and follow sporting events.

Travis Eastin, owner, American Dowell Sign Co. I remember being a little boy and watching my dad, RC Eastin, working at his shop that he called "The Sign Shop" and just being amazed at the signs he made. To watch my dad sling a lettering quill was absolutely amazing to me. At age 17 I made one of my most important decisions I have ever made — to go to Texas and learn how to paint signs with my dad and eventually run my own little sign shop. Fortunately my dad was happy to have me in Texas and that is where my sign painting career began. While in Texas I worked at A-RC Signs which was a small two-person shop consisitng of my dad and older sister (Jayna Mays). They focused on hand-lettered signage for billboards, vehicles and hand-painted signs of all different types. This experience of working right beside my dad and my sister was an incredible experience. In 1995, work had dried up for me in Teaxas and I had become home sick, so I came back home to Tolono. I filled out an application with American Dowell and this is where I have been ever since. In 2008 owner Jim North and I were coming back to the shop from an evening project that we were working on and he knew that I had a goal of owning my own sign shop. He asked if I still had this goal and I said yes. So the conversation on the rest of the drive back to the shop was filled with his interest in me taking over American Dowell Signs. My wife and I talked and thought about the idea and felt that it was something that we couldn't pass up so we worked out a deal and I became the owner of American Dowell Signs.

Mack Kite, sign painter, son of the late master sign painter Bill Kite. Mack spent many days during summer vacations from school at his father's sign shop, sweeping floors and coating out boards that would later become panels that his father would turn into signs. Later, in his early teens, Mack spent numerous weekends helping his father repaint billboards while standing on a walk board, spanned between ladders, some 15 to 20 feet high. By the age of 17, Mack went to work full time with his father and brothers, Dan and Tony, in Urbana's famous Kite Signs where he began his apprenticeship. Mack would continue his apprenticeship as a self-employed sign shop owner after opening up his own shop at the age of 21. Mack would later earn extra income for himself and his family by traveling the motorcycle rally circuit and pinstriping motorcycles around the country. After running his own small sign shop for nearly 25 years and after feeling the impact of an ever-increasing number of small computer/plotter shops popping up everywhere, Mack hung up the towel and elected to go to work for Jim North at American Dowell Sign Co., the twin cities' largest and only full-service sign company. Mack lives in Urbana with his wife and daughter and is currently living the care-free life of a non-business owner. Mack doesn't paint much any more — his current position is in sales and design.

Scott "Cornbread" Lindley, Walldog Coordinator, Mural Artist, Graphic Designer, Sculptor, Illustrator, Sign Painter with a background in Construction Management. Educated at Eastern Illinois University where he obtained both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Art. Owner of CSL Studio based in Mt Pulaski IL. Coordinated the Danville, IL "Dog Gone Dandy" Walldog Meet in 2010. Coordinated the "Wright Flyer" Mural in Mt Pulaski, IL and "Walldogs 2.0" Murals in Danville, IL in 2011. Also coordinated the 2012 Arcola "Pop the Top" Walldog Meet. Coordinated the Kewanee, IL "A Hog in Dog Heaven" Walldog Meet in summer 2013 and coming in the fall of 2013, the "National Road" Mural in Marshall, IL. After the completion of the Nation Road Mural he will have coordinated 50 Walldog murals in four years. He loves bringing artist together and changing the appearance of a city or town and reintroduced a community to its history.

John Myers began sign painting over 60 years ago. For a number of years sign work was his secondary occupation on his off-days as a University of Illinois fireman. His retirement from the fire department gave him the opportunity to make it his primary occupation. Over the years he has worked as an independent and in a number of sign shops: Dowell Sign, C/U Poster, Kite Signs, American Dowell Sign Company, and Marster's (in Danville, IL). He has rubbed shoulders with a majority of the area sign painters and has learned from some of the most talented men in the business. He also passed on his own expertise to aspiring sign painters. Over his career he has lettered trucks of all sizes (from pickups to moving vans), showcards, highway billboards, awnings, walls, doors, murals, silos, numbers on loading docks, gym floors, silk screen work and just about anything that a brush could touch. His hands have known everything from a common camel hair brush, to a fitch, a striping brush, an air brush, linseed oil, turpentine, and a sheet of gold leaf. His experience includes traditional sign work as well as the installation of large outdoor signs.  He still practices his craft today, but on a smaller more selective scale.

James M. North. Jim’s graphic art career had a humble start in south Texas. Fortunately, a hard-working single-parent African-American mother of ten insisted her children earn enough to help support the family and themselves. With that lesson came one of Jim’s most prized attributes — a good work ethic. Poor single-parent families like Jim’s — only two generation removed from slavery — survived by chopping or picking cotton, working rice fields or as ranch hands. Mentoring and encouragement came into Jim’s life through pastors, postmasters, teachers and coaches. After serving with the United States Air Force in Vietnam, he pursued an education in the field of Graphic Design at Parkland College before finishing his education at the University of Illinois in 1975. Jim started his career at Champaign Signs and C-U Poster where he had the opportunity to learn the art of sign painting from master painters like John Myers, Bill Kite, and Lynn Taylor. In 1977, Jim founded American Signs and Graphics. Through the next few years, he acquired several other sign companies and continued learning from sign painters like Mack Dowell and Wayne Riggle. Eventually, his company would become American Dowell Signs and Graphics and employed as many as 20 people. Jim sold his company in 2008, but remains actively involved in community causes such as Urban Restoration Ministries and Judah Christian School. He also enjoys serving in his church and especially enjoys his grandkids. Mr. North lives near Champaign, Illinois with his wife Joy. They have four grown children, Sara, Jessica, Katie and Matt and ten grandchildren.