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The City Spoke Through Hand-Painted Signs

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Simon Hardeveld didn’t come to New Orleans with a paintbrush in hand. But as soon as he put down roots in the city, his creative instinct blossomed.
New Orleans’ unique way of life, iconic sayings, and vibrant culture spoke to Simon. He listened, and soon began to make colorful, hand-painted signs full of NOLA spirit.  
Now, 35 years later, Simon’s art is instantly recognizable. And not just because it hangs in shops, restaurants, and homes all over the city. 
He uses every ounce of love he has for New Orleans in each of his paintings. And it shows – everyone can see the NOLA they love in his distinct style.
In his atelier on Magazine Street, Simon does more than paint. He immerses himself in his art. 
Once you step inside his world, his work is everywhere you look – walls of signs become hallways leading to more hand-painted displays. Art of all shapes and sizes lines the floor, fills the shelves and table tops, and hangs alongside flags and wind chimes.
The prolific painter sees no separation between his paintings, his lifestyle, and his home. It’s all a work of art. To Simon, it’s all New Orleans.

To create his eye-catching signs, Simon listens close. Every saying, phrase, and expression featured in his art comes straight from New Orleans, the city he loves to call home.

He hears New Orleans in the cheers of geaux cups as celebrations cross paths. In the sea of Saints fans chanting “Who Dat?” on Sunday. In the Cajun proverb, laissez le bon temps rouler, that reminds us all to let the good times roll.

He finds beauty in every corner of the city. In New Orleans’ sayings and slang, and the humble typeface of the corner grocery. In the timeless characters that make NOLA so special.

Like so many creative spirits, Simon’s New Orleans story starts with his first Mardi Gras. 
He was awestruck by the celebration. The shared bliss. The soaring spirits. The layers of smiles, colors, and cheerful greetings. How it all wove its way into every neighborhood, filling the city with magic.
Photo: Paul Broussard/NOTMC
Photo: Zach Smith/NOTMC
Mardi Gras convinced Simon that he was meant to be here. The magic of New Orleans felt like home. 
And his love for New Orleans continues to grow, brighten, and bloom – just like the fantastic artwork he creates. It’s all part of his story. 
It’s all part of the magic of New Orleans. 
But the story doesn’t stop there. See more of Simon’s playful and brilliant artwork on his Facebook and Instagram page. Stop by his atelier on Magazine Street and explore his visionary workspace. View the city through the lens of all our featured local artists. Hear their stories, share their experiences.
Follow your inspiration and find your own #OneTimeInNOLA story.

About the Author:

Ian Donnelly is a textbook example of a Mardi Gras tripper turned born-again New Orleanian. He came for a weeklong visit and found the magic that songs and stories always promised. A copywriter at FSC Interactive by day, he prefers to spend his nights in costume, on a whim, and in hot pursuit of his own New Orleans story.