POSTED Tue. Sep 27, 2016

Creative Culture

Signs of the Times with Simon of New Orleans
Written by FRITZ ESKER

You may not know the name Simon Hardeveld. But if you live in New Orleans, you’ve probably seen his work. Distinctive, brightly colored signs with sayings like “Shalom Y’all,” “Be Nice or Leave,” and “Look Busy Jesus is Coming” decorate homes, businesses, and billboards throughout the city; the most famous ones are probably the signs that decorate the set for WGNO’s News With a Twist.

This October, the iconic artist will be celebrated in Simon of New Orleans, a new book about his life and art published by River Road Press.

The idea for the book was a collaboration between River Road Press publisher Scott Campbell and author Yvonne Perret. Perret, who’d already written for River Road, was looking for a new idea for a book when Campbell suggested Simon.

“I didn’t know the man, but I definitely knew the artwork,” Perret says. The book is a mixture of descriptions of the artist’s life and work, pictures of his art, and commentary from fans and collectors.

Perret said that people are often reluctant to be interviewed about anything that isn’t about them, but she said that this was not the case with Simon. Subjects were excited and eager to talk about the man and his art, a fact attributable both to the work and the man himself.

“He is the most unassuming, gentle, put-you-at-ease guy,” Perret says.

Born in Cannes, France, Simon worked as a chef in his native country before he moved to Florida in 1986, and then came to New Orleans in 1994 for Mardi Gras. Like many others before and since, he fell in love with the city. “I came for Mardi Gras and I’m still here,” he says.

His transition from the culinary to the artistic world was accidental. When he moved to New Orleans, restaurants were not looking for traditional French chefs. At the time, California-inspired cuisine was trendier. Looking for any kind of work, he took a job at Bush Antiques on Magazine.

During slow days, Simon began playing around with discarded wood in the back of the shop. He created his first signs there. Ms. Bush, who Simon still speaks of with great fondness, allowed him to showcase his work in the shop. They sold well. He kept making them and people kept buying them.

Eventually, he started his own business. His outdoor workshop is now located at Antiques on Jackson (1028 Jackson Avenue). It’s full of lush greenery, Simon’s signs, and the occasional random object (a trombone lay on a nearby table during our interview).

Each of his signs takes approximately 15 days to complete. He works on several signs simultaneously, but the process of cutting the wood, prepping it, adding an undercoat, painting both sides and putting on the finishing touches is time-consuming. But the results have been an undeniable success.

Simon said his work really took off in 2011 when an art director for News With a Twist ate at Joey K’s on Magazine St, one of the first local businesses to showcase Simon’s signs. The art director asked restaurant management who had painted the signs, then contacted Simon.

News With a Twist opened up a lot of doors,” says Simon.

Now, he accepts commissions from businesses and individuals. Part of the process is meeting the buyer. Simon does not use phone or email; he likes to meet customers in person. When he meets them, it gives him a sense of their personalities and makes the signs easier to paint. He keeps photo albums in his workshop filled with pictures of him posing with happy customers and their signs.

Unsurprisingly for an artist who insists on meeting potential customers face-to-face, Simon says his favorite thing about New Orleans is the friendly, familial interactions between its residents. “It’s the people,” he says. “Not too much the music, more the people.”

Simon adds that he has no intention of returning to the restaurant world. Even at home, his wife Maria does almost all of the cooking. The one exception is when Simon wants to make his beloved hot dogs.

Simon’s work has now reached other parts of the world, including Europe and Japan. But its heart will always be in New Orleans.

“Simon’s art has weaved itself into the culture of the city in a way that I’ve never seen before,” says Perret.

Image vourtesy of Simon of New Orleans, via Facebook.

POSTED Dec 14, 2018


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    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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