Media releases

Ghost sign hunting

Experts are meeting to discuss the phenomenon of ghost sign hunting that has taken off in large cities around the world.

Dr Stefan Schutt from Victoria University's Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing said thousands of people worldwide were now capturing old hand-painted advertising signs on their cameras and mobile devices to share on social media and, increasingly, in books.

"The ghost sign scene has so many fascinating aspects from pure nostalgia to making sense of urban change and of course the appeal of forgotten crafts," Dr Schutt said. "But we're also interested in what its growing popularity in major cities can tell us about our own sense of time and place, especially in the age of social media."

Tuesday's free seminar at Victoria University's Flinders Street campus will feature expert international and local perspectives, plus open discussion. Letterbox type studio founder Stephen Banham and London authority on hand-painted signs, Sam Roberts, will join Dr Schutt.

"It's a rare privilege to have these experts in letterforms and old signs together in Melbourne," Dr Schutt said.

Mr Roberts has recorded advertising on walls from across the UK and Ireland and last year published Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie, about the street advertising of Cambodia. His Ghostsigns blog is at

Mr Banham's work focuses on the cultural aspects of letterforms. He has nearly 20 publications on typography, including his 2011 book, Characters: Cultural stories revealed through typography focusing on Melbourne signs at

Dr Schutt is the creator of an online archive of 10,000 abandoned documents from the former Melbourne sign writing firm Lewis & Skinner, which operated from the early 1900s to the 1960s. He also writes a blog about Melbourne ghost signs. Dr Schutt is a Berry Family Fellow with the State Library of Victoria. 

This is the first of The Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing's new 'pop-up' seminar series. Media welcome. 

Event details:

Tuesday 12 March, 4.00pm – 7.00pm

Level 17 Artspace, VU City Flinders Campus, 300 Flinders St, Melbourne

Free - refreshments provided

RSVP: [email protected]; Enquiries: 99194362


Available for interview:

Dr Stefan Schutt, Research Program Leader (Cultural Diversity, Technologies and Creativity)

Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, Victoria University

(03)  9919 1618; 0410 387 622; [email protected]


Media contact:

Michael Quin, Research writer

Public Affairs Department, Victoria University

(03) 9919 9491; 0431 815 409; [email protected]

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