Sign painter retires after 30 years at the University of Arizona

Thirty years ago, when Albert Carlon took over as the University of Arizona’s (UA) sign painter, sign making was very different: all of the signs were painted by hand.

Since then Carlon has distinguished himself as a highly skilled and versatile artist, and as a great encourager to his co-workers. During his time with UA Facilities Management, the methods of sign making have changed dramatically, with most work being done on a computer. Carlon adapted well, not with just learning the software and associated techniques, but also in teaching others.

Carlon is well known amongst his colleagues for the caricatures he used to draw for retirement cards and other special occasions. He would spend hours “studying” his subject and had a knack for whimsically capturing the person’s character, mannerisms, and passions.

Carlon was hired at UA in December 1987. At that time, every sign, banner, and campus room number were hand-painted. For that reason, he was classified as the only sign painter on campus. When the organization received their first computer sign maker, it was very basic. Carlon learned how to use it, and mastered every new upgraded machine over the years to keep up with the growing demand for signs as the campus grew. Until he retired, Carlon still did all of the hand-lettering on the UA campus, one of very few people that can still do it.

If one goes to a Wildcat basketball game, all of the logos that have been painted on the home arena floor are Carlon’s work. At home football games, spectators can appreciate his work on the top of the skyboxes that read “Arizona Wildcats.” These 3-foot letters painted on the face of the wall are more of his work. Spread across the UA campus, every monument sign in front of the buildings, every street sign, all of the departmental signs on glass doors and windows, the three-dimensional letters on walls, show Carlon’s craftsmanship.

UA Facilities Management said they feel very fortunate to have had someone of Carlon’s skill and artistic talent working with them for the past 30 years.