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Windows to the Past

A snapshot of one photographer who preserves classic signage



I love old signs because they’re works of art,” says Debora Drower, a St. Paul, MN-based photographer and graphic designer who credits her artistic skills to her mother. A fabric artist, Debora’s mother exposed her children to environments that fostered artistic expression, and this exposure later influenced Debora to study art. However, her focus eventually shifted to photography and graphic design.

Debora says she became interested in signage while taking a photography course in college. “All my photos were of signs,” she recalls. “I was trying to capture the realism of art and letter work and fell in love with signage.” She specifies neon illumination and clearly visible brush strokes as a few of her favorite sign traits.

Today, Debora photographs old signs to preserve what she calls “the last markers” of mom-and-pop shops, which have become outweighed by fast-food chains and other corporate establishments. About these icons, she says, “I photograph them as I find them — warts and all.”

The photos showcased here celebrate vintage signs from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.

Debora Drower, a freelance photographer and graphic designer from St. Paul, MN, photographs vintage sign work to preserve its historic value. She can be reached at (651) 646-8256 or [email protected] You can also visit her Website at



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