Buddy Norton + Shelby Lowe live a Two Lanes lifestyle traveling in their van and painting gold leaf signs across America
Nothing shines like gold. It is irreplaceable, matchless. We have always been drawn to it, believed it is valuable and looked for unique ways to let its special properties shine. Today gold is used in the most ground-breaking ways, part of modern medical treatments, electronics and space missions. But the artists of Canned Pineapple, Buddy Norton and Shelby Lowe, have also resurrected one of its most traditional uses – they travel the country creating original signs from applied gold on the windows of businesses that want to shine just a bit more brightly than others on the block.
Buddy, a graphic designer/veteran sign painter/gold leaf sign master, and Shelby, a product marketer for a jewelry company, traded in their conventional jobs and personal living space for life on the road in a van — less space, more adventure.
“We were both in California stuck at jobs that didn’t suit us and the lifestyle that we wanted,” explains Buddy. “We had opportunities come up for work on the road but didn’t know how to put rubber to the road with the responsibilities that were keeping us tied down. We began searching on Craigslist for a vehicle we could modify to be our new home and settled on a 2007 Sprinter. Once the customizations were complete, we filled it with brushes, sheets of gold, and basic essentials, and set out across America.”
Being on the road full-time for the past year, Canned Pineapple has put plenty of miles on its tires. Work has taken Buddy and Shelby to Nashville, Denver, Baltimore, DC, Charleston, Atlanta, Kansas City, Boise, and all over southwest Utah. They’ll kick off a Pacific Northwest run this fall after a return visit to California.
So how do they get jobs out on the road? With a little in-person hustle.
“We aren’t afforded the luxury of being shy,” explains Shelby. “If we see a banner up, we just roll in and show our stuff. Construction sites are another easy way to find out about the business coming in. Or just using good ole Google for businesses ‘coming soon’.”
Back when sign painting was an art form, the painters were given free rein to create what looked best on the storefront. Today, with logos being part of so many marketing platforms, Buddy and Shelby have the exciting challenge of figuring out how to creatively incorporate an existing logo into an effective sign for each unique storefront. A new appreciation is emerging for the skills it takes to make an effective sign, and for the guilders and painters who have spent years honing those skills.
“We value greatly the tradition of gold and supporting American businesses,” declares Buddy. “We source our 23 karat gold leaf sheets from W&B, a fifth generation family business out of Chicago.”
Laying leaves can take a long time, but the reward is great. Sure, you could have vinyl up in an hour, but taking this route, you’ll have a sign the lasts much longer. It’s a detailed, time-consuming process, but it sends the message to customers that the businesses behind those gold-leafed windows are committed to high-quality products and first-class service. A business owner who’s invested in a sign from Canned Pineapple knows that good results require a focused mind and a delicate hand and can’t be rushed.
“People put so much time and effort into creating a business,” says Buddy. “We want to help bring it to life with a proper and well-thought-out sign. That moment they see the completed project, it’s like seeing their dream and vision come to fruition.”
Life on the road has rewarded Buddy and Shelby with starry nights in national parks, introduced them to new friends, and afforded them the chance to update this classic form of artistic expression. “Through this journey, we’ve felt our conviction,” says Buddy. “As risky as it was to leave the security of our more conventional lives, the reward of the freedom, passion and simplicity of #vanlife has been greater than we could have imagined.”
Two Lanes is Mike Wolfe’s lifestyle brand that’s inspired by 25 years of exploring and rediscovering the often forgotten wonders found only on the back roads. LEARN MORE HERE.