Kenji moved to Boston from Japan in 2004 to enroll in a two-year sign painting program at a trade school called Butera School of Arts, and work for a commercial sign company, while also focusing on his personal art. Today, Kenji’s company “Need Signs? Will Paint!” creates signs and lettering for many commercial properties throughout Boston.
Dylan came on as Kenji’s assistant about two years ago after attending one of his shows in San Francisco. Dylan has since taken on a larger role, working on his own signs under Kenji’s supervision.
“When coming up with the design for the Central Square Sign, we spoke with [CSBA Director] Mike to come up with a design that would represent Central Square. We decided to use expression and inspiration from retro, old neon signs, because it fits in the neighborhood and speaks to the culture.”
— Kenji Nakayama
“One challenge we faced with this design was not having a big space to work on it. Each side of the sign is four panels, and it’s about 30 feet long. It was physically demanding to carry all of the panels – I almost threw out my back! Thankfully, our landlord let us use the parking lot. It took two weeks to complete the sign, from prepping and sanding off graffiti to finishing each panel.”
— Dylan Gough
“We didn’t have to follow too many rules, and instead did what we thought was cool. We wanted the sign to represent the LGBTQ community, and we used rainbow, vibrant colors to speak to the culturally diverse neighborhood. The sign is a resistance to what’s happening in the world right now — Central Square is a place going against the norm.
We hope that this sign will make the city more alive and start conversations. Murals, street art, and signs enrich the culture of Central Square. The activity [of making art] itself is a positive thing — having artists work on a mural is very important for the city, otherwise the streets become stale. Kids can see it and think, ‘maybe I want to create art someday’.”
— Kenji Nakayama
Learn more about Kenji and Dylan’s work: http://www.needsignswillpaint.com/
Connect with Kenji and Dylan: https://www.instagram.com/needsignswillpaint/