The Cevallos Brothers and the Timeless Art of the Poster Maker
No matter how advanced technology becomes, there will always be things best left to human hands. Tasks that require a dash of imperfection, like tossing pizza dough in the air, scattering toppings with intuition over mathematical precision, and creating the most enduring, compelling pieces of art, those works flecked with human foibles and ingenuity and heartbreak and triumph.
Miraculous, flawed, and flexible, our weird little digits can concoct things no machine could imagine.
Such is the case with the Cevallos Bros, a pair of custom sign makers from New York City. For decades the brothers have used their hands (along with paper, sharpies, and acrylic paints) to create posters that brighten the facades and inform the clientele of restaurants, food trucks, bars, and bodegas across every borough—including many a pizza joint.
Like a slice straight from the oven, their work is warm and inviting, combining the solid framework of brother Miguel’s linework, lettering, and layout with brother Carlos’ expressive eye for color.
Don’t let their somber suits and stoic expressions deceive you: the Cevallos’ work is as bold and arresting as a razor-sharp manchego. Each Cevallos poster is shot through with childlike playfulness and whimsical details like a stuntman soaring over a steaming cup of coffee on his dirtbike, a fireman dousing a scalding hot bagel, or a burrito puking a rainbow over Rockaway Beach.
Whether it’s proclaiming a pizza parlor, yoga studio, or Halloween party, the brothers make sure to sprinkle their own creative twists into every poster.
Born in Ecuador and raised in Colombia, the brothers, now both in their 80s, honed their skills sketching caricatures of tourists and drawing posters for businesses and events across South America before bringing their talents to NYC.
For decades their work rarely wandered beyond the boroughs. But upon joining Instagram in 2019, assisted by a younger, more tech-savvy collaborator, they finally achieved much-deserved international recognition.
Today they fulfill commissions as distant as Spain and Korea (with a waitlist and three-week turnaround per project). But no matter the final destination, their untouchable style remains the same.
A Cevallos Bros poster is much like the NYC street slice, something they’ve often advertised. They strike the same sweet (or in this case, savory) spot of unpretentious perfection, a few solid ingredients tossed together to create something transcendent. It’s street-level art meant to be enjoyed at street level.
Each poster is a window into a community, a glimpse into the places people gather, nourish themselves, and celebrate. It only makes sense then that the posters feel like a celebration, a visual manifestation of the things that bind communities together.
After commissioning the brothers to create a slew of brilliant pizza-themed posters, we caught up with Carlos for a quick chat about their art and trade:
How did you guys get your start?
We started a shop together, the three brothers, in Bogota in 1968. Victor moved to New York in 1969. Then I moved in 1974 and we worked together making signs and selling our paintings in galleries. Miguel keep the shop in Bogota and take care of my mother until 2005. Then he also moved to New York.
What medium do you work with?
We work with white poster paper, non toxic acrylic paint, and black medium point markers.
How has sign-making changed since you started?
It changed a lot when many people started to print signs and there began to be many stores that design and print for businesses. Less people preferred to have a sign painted.
Have the types of clients you work with changed at all over the years?
Yes and No. We have people we work with for 30 years. But now there are many, many new jobs we make for all different businesses.
It's nice now to work for different places. Before it was the same thing all the time. Now everything changes and it is more creative. We like people's different ideas and the different type of businesses.
Have you worked with many pizzerias?
Yes, we make signs for pizza for many years. Many, many places. The people are nice and we like to work with their business. First in Times Square and later places in Queens. Not too much in Brooklyn.