The craft of carving ad sign boards goes back to ancient China, where they were traditionally used in Chinese temples, schools, private homes, and more.
Making signboards from scratch requires the hands of highly skilled craftsmen, and it takes years of practice to perfect the skill.
Signboards are believed to bring good luck and fortune, which is why they can still be found today in many places, including restaurants, stores, and buses.
Lee Wai, an 84-year-old craftsman, has been making signboards since he was 20 years old.
“I used to cut the characters by hand, but now my eyesight is very poor, so I tend to get it wrong,” he said.
There are two ways to make signboards. The traditional way includes manually carving wooden boards into characters, while the modern method utilizes lasers to detect the outline of each character.
In addition, craftsmen have also found ways to digitize the process. For instance, Lee Kin Ming (李健明) was able to digitize his friend, Li Han’s calligraphy writing, allowing him to make designs and adjustments on a computer.
李健明表示，「在他 (Li Han) 去世前，他在家寫了上千個不同的字體然後以大尼龍袋將它們扛到工作室。」
“Before he (Li Han) passed away, he wrote thousands of different characters at home, and brought them to me in a big nylon bag,” he said, “I think digitalization is a must to match Hong Kong’s rapid pace.”
Today, signboard making has achieved new meaning. These traditional crafts are also unconsciously preserving their culture.