ART

Celebrating in Style: UM senior creates 21st birthday signs

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Sarah Henderson
Oxford Stories
Sehende2@go.olemiss.edu

Twenty-first birthday signs are the newest trend taking college campuses by storm, and every girl turning 21 is in the market for the best birthday sign possible. Luckily for girls in the Oxford area, one University of Mississippi senior profits from helping fellow UM students celebrate their 21st birthday’s in style. This Bay St. Louis native works with students all over campus to ensure that birthday girls receive the sign of their dreams.

Psychology major, Brooke Thomas, 22, has been creating artwork for as long as she remembers. She has been painting pieces for her friends and family, and has enjoyed being able to use her artwork as a creative outlet to let loose from school. She creates everything from paintings, to door hangers, to Christmas ornaments, but has recently begun putting together 21st birthday signs.

“21st Birthday signs are large posters that are cut, painted, and glued together to look like anything a birthday girl wants,” said Thomas. “The girl that is turning 21 will wear the sign all night wherever her and her friends go, and it will let everyone around her know that she’s 21. It’s just a fun way to celebrate a big day.”

Thomas started creating signs about a year ago for close friends, but her clientele quickly picked up when her work was seen around the Oxford Square.

“I put together a few signs for some of my close girlfriends, and they told their friends about them,” Thomas said. Soon I was getting calls and text messages from people I didn’t even know. It was so flattering that people were willing to pay me to create a sign for them, so I started a little business out of it.”

Most of Thomas’ signs are made with the same type of system. She starts with a large poster board, draws a general outline of what her client wants, cuts out any letters or shapes that she needs, paints details on, glues everything together, and then finishes the work off with a top coat sealer. The signs take Thomas anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours to make, depending on how intricate the design idea is and how much paint will need to be used.

“Some girls have very simple design ideas, smaller projects will normally take me under an hour to do, but I have had a few signs take me several hours to complete,” said Thomas. “I like to do more difficult signs. My favorite sign I have done so far was a Harry Potter sign with all four house logos. It took me a while to complete, but it was so unique and turned out perfect.”

Typically, Thomas charges $35 per sign, but the price increases depending on how much paint and glitter is used, and if the client wants a feather boa or just a ribbon for the sign to hang on. She keeps all of the supplies in her room, and works on signs in between doing her school work.

“My art box is basically my whole life,” said Thomas. “I collect different paints, glitters, ribbons, and sealants to help make the best signs that I can.”

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Thomas has made over 20 birthday signs for girls on the Ole Miss campus in the short year that she has been in the sign making business. She hopes to be able to make many more before she graduates in May, and will continue to do artwork long into her future.

Sophomore Julia Peele, 20, will be turning 21 in March and has plans to celebrate her big day with a sign made by Thomas.

fullsizerender-1“I definitely want a sign for my birthday, and I have seen so many cute designs that Brooke has done,” said Peele. “Her signs always look great, and she is so good at coming up with unique designs that really fit the personality of the birthday girl. I am so excited to have her make mine in March.”
The birthday sign tradition may be new, but it has grabbed the attention of most girls in their early 20s.

“Birthday signs allow a girl to celebrate her big day in a fun, unique way,” says Peele. “You can customize your sign to fit your personality, and it just makes such a big birthday even more fun. It’s a cool tradition, and I am already planning what I want my sign to look like.”

Interested in seeing just what this new, fun trend is all about? Take a look at Brooke Thomas’ art Instagram. You can find her work under the username @creationsbybrooke.

“I am happy to make birthday signs for all of these girls,” said Thomas. It’s a fun way for me to get into my creative abilities, and it’s a fun way for girls to celebrate. I will keep making the signs as long as girls still want them made.”

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