Megan D. Robinson (A&O): What inspired you to start your Signed99 project?
Steve Porter (SP): The original seed idea began back in 1991 while visiting Brighton.
Intrigued by an arcade machine on one of the piers claiming to read someone’s character from their signature, I signed my name and fed the slip in… The machine printed out a couple of paragraphs – which were quite accurate about me – even the less complimentary bits!
During the 2010’s, I went through old sketchbooks seeking out ideas that had been recorded but never carried out... Making a large signature “portrait” was one of these.
So I made about three, as an experiment. It worked best to have the signature doubled, which gave the overall shape an aesthetic balance.
It was fun to see something usually handwriting-sized, blown up and massive. Like I was a celebrity or something. I am not and have never had any desire to be a celebrity. But it gave me a little thrill―to see my name up there on the wall―in whites, rather than lights!
Gradually the idea began to settle that other people might enjoy this feeling and want their own signature displayed in a way, as a portrait or celebration.
And so Signed99 was born.
There is also a humorous “Duchampian” aspect, insofar as it uses “ready-mades.” Marcel Duchamp employed existing objects―famously a urinal―for his work. I think of the signature as a kind of “readymade,” where it is recontextualized into art. As well as being a logo-ist take on traditional portraiture.