In our fast-changing world, the new replaces the old at an ever-quickening pace and too often history (especially the everyday and the vernacular) is lost before it can be documented. This site attempts to document the vintage signs of San Jose before they are gone. These signs are all captured by me through urban sketches, drawn on location.


Through my sketches I hope to bring attention to these pieces of our history. I record them as they stand today: sometimes restored, but more often forgotten and falling apart, yet quite beautiful. They are a link to a way of life that is almost gone.

Eventually, I hope to create a book and an exhibit so that this body of work can be documented and viewed as a whole.  If you know of a sign that isn’t on my list of signs to sketch yet, or have a story to tell, I’d love to hear from you. Use the contact page and get in touch.

WHY URBAN SKETCHING? (And what is Urban Sketching?)

Urban Sketches are drawings done on location, through direct observation. They are a record of a particular time and place, captured with the intent of sharing the experience through the sketches. Find out more about the Urban Sketching movement here.

Why record through sketches?, you might ask. There is something special about sketching as visual reportage. Standing on street corners, I record what I see and capture a raw, unedited first-response. I hope that seeing these signs as works of art changes how they are viewed by us: that they become interesting, beautiful, and perhaps even worth preserving.



I am Suhita Shirodkar. Urban Sketcher, Artist and Illustrator. My body of work varies widely in subject, (see more of my work on my blog) but it all ties back to an underlying aim to view and capture the world around me as a traveller would; to see both the everyday and the exotic with fresh eyes, and to look deeply at the old and the new. My mobile studio setup is always on my shoulder: my bag with a couple of sketchbooks, pen and ink, a tiny watercolor kit, and any other media that catch my fancy. I love the immediacy that this brings to my work.


This project is made possible with the generous support of the Knight Foundation and of History San José. And through the input and encouragement of so many, many people over the years. And, I’d like to thank in advance those that share their stories and knowledge to help lift these drawings from mere sketches to a record of pieces of our history.