Trader Joe’s Sign Artist

I’ve been a Trader Joe’s Sign Artist since my store, Anthem #280, opened five years ago. It was a big change for me. I’d been a freelance illustrator working out of my home for over twenty years.

I do the big signs and the Blackboard endcap signs. There are two sizes. The large ends are 2′ x 5′ the small ends are 2′ x 3′.

This is one of my early signs. Here’s another:

These interior boards are always on display describing what Trader Joe’s is all about.

The product endcaps are always changing. We are getting ready for a flyer now. I keep a library of boards with art and prices so they can be changed out easily. I paint out the old information and paint in the new. Here is one of my favorites.

This was the introduction to the Poker Playing Chickens, here is a more recent version. How they’ve evolved.

Each time I use it I add a new element, and colors of the product and maybe another ace of hearts!

Thanks for lookin’

Pam Tanzey, Sign Goddess

39 Responses to Trader Joe’s Sign Artist

  1. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I love signs. Good job!

  2. pamtanzey says:

    Thank you Allan. Holy cow I just visited your blog. I love your blog! What an incredible view you have. What an exciting job!

  3. Hi Pam! That’s really awesome work! I’m a big Trader Joe’s fan, and I’ve always been impressed that the artwork in their stores always has a fun, interesting, colorful look that’s consistent from store to store. Chickens playing poker … whodathunk?

  4. pamtanzey says:

    Thanks so much Stephen!

  5. Your signs put my heart in silly season! My Trader Joe’s is nearly an hour away. Tell me, who can I nag to get one closer to where I ( and thousands of others) live? Toni

  6. pamtanzey says:

    Here are the stores they are opening up next

    Coming Soon:

    Brookfield, WI – Nov. 2nd
    Charlottesville, VA – Nov. 9th
    Clifton, NJ – Nov. 16th
    Medford, OR – Oct. 19th
    Salt Lake City, UT – Nov. 16th
    San Antonio, TX – Nov. 2nd
    State College, PA – Nov. 9th
    Wilmington, NC – Nov. 30th
    Winston Salem, NC – Oct. 26th
    These cities are up next no date yet-
    Austin, TX
    Dallas (Lower Greenville), TX
    Gainesville, FL
    Houston (Memorial Area), TX
    Los Angeles (Burton Way), CA
    Mission Valley, CA
    San Francisco (Nob Hill), CA
    Here’s a location request link- Let them know where you would like a store-

  7. laceyjbrown says:

    Awesome signs. I have always thought that would be a really fun job. Unfortunately I’m not an artist! And thank you for that location request link. Just sent my request!

  8. I love the evolution of chickens. These two images alone are testimony to the value of drawing one thing over and over again – and anyone trying to draw should internalise this basic thought immediately. I like your blog, by the way. I guess five Aces of Hearts must be the top hand, then. 😉

  9. Barbara says:

    The chickens are evolving… You could write a cartoon backstory to the chickens playing poker !

  10. ideflex says:

    I always wondered who did these kind of signs ( no trader Joe’s in my neck of the woods) – now I know! Thanks for visiting.

  11. Rita Kay says:

    WOW !!! The signs are BEAUTIFUL. I’m looking forward to following your site and seeing all your great work.

  12. pamtanzey says:

    Thank you Rita! I’m enjoying your great recipes!

  13. Dona says:

    omg!!! I had no idea you were behind those signs! I love your bassets so much, I had assumed that you spent all your time doing them! Keep up the good work, my visits to TJ’s will be more special in the future!

  14. pamtanzey says:

    Thank you Dona! I love your hats!!

  15. Dear Pam,
    Your sign work is stunning! I was the “sign goddess” for a Hy-Vee grocery in the KC metro for 15 years. Since they’ve phased out the position I work as a full time cake decorator. Still make signs for our bakery though.

  16. pamtanzey says:

    Thank you Rochelle! It’s nice to meet a fellow Sign Goddess! How wonderful that you got to do it for 15 years! Cake decorating seems like a natural direction for a sign artist to go. I’ll bet your cakes are beautiful! Maybe I’ll look into that as we are in the beginning stages of being phased out also.

  17. JulesPaige says:

    The only one in PA isn’t close. Neat illustrations. Thanks for sharing them.

  18. Ana Marroquin says:

    What media do you use on the signs, and where do you work to get them done.

    I like illustration myself, and am trying to pursue a job opportunity with it.

  19. pamtanzey says:

    Hi Ana,
    I use acrylic paint over tinted gesso on the blackboard signs. I keep the art part and paint the product part out with black acrylic paint to use for new products and prices. I have a small place in the corner of the backroom where I paint the signs and they are all kept in a large cupboard.

    I was an illustrator for years. It was a lot of fun. Good luck with your job opportunity!

  20. Pam, I love TJ’s and have always admired the signs. Great job and how lovely to do work you love.


  21. Carol Zinsmeister says:

    Hi Pam,

    Great work! I love Trader Joe’s, it is definitely my favourite store! I am thinking of applying to my local TJ’s for a sign artist position…currently I paint commission portraits and murals when asked, but it’s not busy enough for me, but honestly am a bit nervous I won’t be good enough…I’m not as young as I used to be 😉 If you can give me any tips I would really appreciate it, and if you get a chance please look at my fledgling website and let me know your honest thoughts! Thanks!

  22. pamtanzey says:

    Hi Carol,
    Thank you! And Go for it! I enjoyed your website, really nice work! I especially loved the mural of the ocean, the view from the pool must be awesome, very clever and beautifully done! You would fit in great, they’d be crazy not to grab you up in a heartbeat!

  23. Carol Zinsmeister says:

    Thanks Pam!….I gave them my application about 3 weeks ago, but not heard anything back yet….

  24. pamtanzey says:

    Good luck! Keep in touch with them

  25. Awesome art! So neat to find your blog and to read your work. Take care. 🙂

  26. Caroline says:

    Wow, what a great job you have! Lucky me – I have 2 Trader Joe’s equal distance from my home.

  27. Wow….again. I’ve never ‘met’ someone that did that. I’m so impressed. Is it fun? Oh to have your talent.

  28. pamtanzey says:

    Sometimes it’s very fun! Sometimes it’s just a lot of hard work, but the store is like my gallery and I really do love it. Thanks!

  29. Trudy says:

    Really beautiful work! Like others who have commented I am a big fan of Trader Joe’s and always wanted to know who did the art. Sometimes they’re so good, you could hang them in your home.

  30. Robin Kinkelaar says:

    Please contact me regarding a chalk wall that my company needs for a trade show. Thank you

  31. Stacie white says:

    Do you live in AZ? I’m looking for a chalk artist to do some lettering on a 8′ by 8′ chalk board for a graduation party. The party is on the 24th. Please let me know if you could possibly do it.


  32. pamtanzey says:

    Hi Stacie, I’m in Las Vegas. I’d love to help but I’m booked. You might try calling one of the Arizona stores and ask to speak with the sign person. There are also excellent sign makers on that will do custom work.

  33. Jessica Shrader says:

    Hi there! I am currently doing some signs for a coffee shop and am very interested in doing signs for trader joes. Please give me some advice if you have time. my Facebook is Jessica Rachelle Designs. I would love to hear from you on how you got your experience, interview and Job!

  34. pamtanzey says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for stopping by! Each Trader Joe’s has their own in house sign artists that are crew members, usually two of them sometimes more. We are employees of Trader Joe’s and have all sorts of other store duties as well as signs. If you are interested in becoming a crew member check out the Trader Joe’s near you, you can find this information also on their website , also what job openings there are.

    I was a freelance illustrator for a long time before they built a new store near me and was the first hired to do the big blackboard end cap signs.

    They’ve gone through a lot of changes since I was hired. They are now focusing mainly on the name of the product, a bullet point of info and a big price, at least at my store. No more art.

    Check out the blackboards and shelf signs of the store or stores near you and make your art/sign samples look similar. Leave your beautiful portraits at home, they won’t be interested in those. Know the products, tell them which ones are your favorites, be friendly and funny and smile, a lot.

    It’s a fun place to work and they have great benefits. Hope this helped. Good luck in all of your endeavors!

  35. Rankin says:

    Are you available for chalk sign work in Las Vegas? Is there a way to contact you about a possible project?

  36. pamtanzey says:

    Hi, thanks so much for your interest. I’m all booked but you might be interested in contacting a fellow sign artist from my store, his name is Jim Wright 702 368-4262, here is his website-

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