Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Everybody's looking for Simon

I looked at my blog stats last week and noticed more than 2500 people visiting my Web site were actually looking for Simon Hardeveld. That's not because I have written extensively about the eccentric French sign-maker, but because he proudly boasts no Web page,e-mail, fax, computer or other modern, technological device. The only online mention is, well, my blog.

Simon figures, if you want one of his signs, you should just come by the shop. Of course, you won't be able to find its address in the telephone book or any tourist brochure either.

Lucky for you, I know where he is and dropped by the other day to get his phone number so all you folks wanting to buy a unique sign can call him up. I can't promise he will answer the phone either. Of course, product photographs are not posted online, so you'd just have to trust his judgment about what to send.

They aren't terribly unique in New Orleans because you will see them everywhere you go, particularly, "Be Nice or Leave." I think that message must have really spoken to residents post-Katrina.

I can tell you that it is all fun and colorful and typical Simon.

His workshop is next to an antique 
store run by his wife on Jackson Avenue at Magazine filled with chandeliers and gilted furnishings. They are an unlikely union.

I told Simon's success story way back in 2007 - you can search for it. His style consists of primary colored stars, circles, flowers and barber shop stripes. The philosophical phrases are totally his. I just bought another sign while I was there: "DIEU VOIT TOUT." Doesn't that say it all? 

It says, "Clean up your act," "Watch out," "I'll get mine after you get yours," "Don't steal," or - if you are more positive, "Good things come to he who waits." After Dieu Voit Tout, what else can you say?

In any case, Simon and his assistant are always madly painting signs,trying to keep up with demand, though there seem to be many that go unsold - perhaps awaiting the perfect buyer. "Shalom Y'all" appeals to the masses and "Who Dat Cat" could turn on many a feline fancier. There's always "Laissez le bon temps" when you have nothing more original to say, but "Blessed and highly flavored by God" might have a more finite customer base. Zulu coconuts are a collector's dream and easier to come by in his shop than at the Mardi Gras parade.

Simon is somewhat political with a tendency to use art to make public statements about hurricanes and oil spills. He told me this time that to counter the general craziness over burning the Koran, he painted a sign of the Who Dat Nation and set it afire. He tried calling the news stations, but the reporters couldn't make out a word he was saying in his thick French accent, so they completely missed the analogy.

He's redecorated the place, putting in a floral archway and what looks like a Tiki bar in addition to the sign museum out back. It's always fun to walk around and you inevitably find something you can't live without. Also, it's just a block away from Trashy Diva.

Anyhow, here's his phone number if you must give him a call: 504-524-8201.


  1. I think this is one of your best pieces yet. Keep them coming...

  2. "Be Nice Or Leave" is Dr. Bob. A different folk artist in the area. Both guys make great stuff and it is pretty similar so I can see how the mixup could happen.