A man who dropped out of sixth form said his life changed after going for a "quick pint" in his local.
After being asked to design a sign by his local while out with his friend, James Connolly. has since become one of the most talented commercial artists around. He is the owner of Signs By James and has designed hundreds of stunning pieces of art for a range of businesses — from hotels to gyms to restaurants. He started out designing signs and window art following that chance moment in the pub, but now also offers stunning bespoke murals for businesses across Merseyside.
Some of his work includes eye-catching retro graffiti at The Good Hood in West Kirby and New Brighton, as well as murals at The Scrapyard, Ship in Hoylake, Zero Clucks and Dream Body gym. His recent work includes beautiful pieces at the Fenwick Sunrise Hotel above The Slaughter House in Liverpool and a huge colourful piece at the new Dogs Go play centre in Wirral.
Despite his natural talent and creative genius, making a living out of art was not something James considered until recently. He studied art at Sixth Form at Mosslands School in Wallasey but never went to an art school or university and, like many creatives, he fell into a steady job when he left school and never looked back.
The 29-year-old from Wallasey said: “I always knew I was good at art but couldn’t concentrate or apply myself at school — in fact I fell out with my art teacher at sixth form and dropped out. I got a job in engineering and just went about my life — kind of forgetting my talent of art.”
Everything changed for James in 2017, when he was out having a “quick pint” with his old school friend in his local, The Rose & Crown. The pub landlady at the time mentioned that she needed someone to design artwork on some large chalk boards, so James’ friend put him forward for the task and opportunities spiralled from there.
James said: “After people saw my skills it led to word of mouth jobs — doing signs and then temporary and permanent window art. I did it as a side hustle from my regular work for extra money but it progressed into some big mural jobs and things have blown up so much I’ve had to quit my job to do this full time.”
James prides himself on offering quality work at a very reasonable price for businesses — whether that be a simple sign or seasonal window art or a huge mural project. James’ larger projects have had amazing feedback from the businesses, with many saying his work is an integral part of their brand.
Richard Fergie, owner of The Good Hood in West Kirby and New Brighton, said: “I noticed James doing some window art near our restaurant in West Kirby. We were soon to be opening and wanted a cool, retro graffiti vibe for our new brand."
He added: "I consulted him about doing the artwork for the entire restaurant and what he has come up with is amazing. We wanted a quirky, slightly cheeky New York graffiti style design throughout and he’s created a masterpiece both at our West Kirby and New Brighton venues.
"People love it and notice something different every time they visit. James is incredible and I’d recommend him to any business wanting the edge and to be talked about.”
Following projects such as The Good Hood, work has gone through the roof for James and word of mouth has spread so fast he doesn’t need to advertise. That said, he never forgets that fateful "quick pint" in the pub and how the career he loves so much could never have happened.
James said: “It’s mad to think that there are people out there who have talents but forget about them. I was one of those people — plodding along just doing my job. Now, thanks to my friend and what happened that day, I have a career I love and it makes me feel great to know people are enjoying my work in many different places.”
James offers commercial sign, window and mural designs, and works on a free consultation and free quote basis. You contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting him on his Facebook and Instagram pages.