Meet Your Local Sign-Stress, Monica Worden


The Red Hot. Tacoma Farmers Market. The Zodiac Supper Club. The Valley. Top of Tacoma. Seventh Veil Tattoo. You’ve seen Monica Worden’s art across these local haunts in the form of a window here and a chalkboard there. Her vintage classic fonts may grace Tacoma staples, but what about the woman behind the signage?

The Tacoma grown sign-stress comes from a family of artists. And despite having attended Tacoma School of the Arts for high school, Monica didn’t make a go at being a full-time artist until a year ago, when she cut down her shifts at Top of Tacoma and took the plunge.

Monica Worden, Northwest Handcraft
Monica works on a variety of surfaces such as this old school automobile. Photo credit: Mitch Huntley.

“It was scary, but my boss was supportive,” Monica said. “I got a business license and was ready to try and do it.”

Monica’s pride and joy is Northwest Handcraft, a small business revolving around custom art projects ranging from, but not limited to, signs, windows, doors, motorcycle helmets, chalkboards, drink menus, table numbers, automobiles, murals, logo design, hand drawn flyers — you get the picture. In short, you come to Monica with the idea, and she’ll “grab a paintbrush and make it happen.”

“Every project is kind of a challenge, and every project is completely different,” Monica continued. The self-taught sign painter doesn’t shy away from the unfamiliar, either. In fact, that’s how she happened upon one of her most beloved techniques — gold leaf. “I was asked if I knew how to do it, and I said ‘Yeah, I know how to do that.’ I looked it up and it’s such a process. But so cool. You work on it for so long, and the gold goes on last, lighting the whole thing up.”

See Monica's handiwork at businesses like The Red Hot. Our local artist finds it phenomenal to work so closely with local leaders.
See Monica’s handiwork at businesses like The Red Hot. Our local artist finds it phenomenal to work so closely with local leaders.

Monica’s overall process is true to her style — traditional, retro and clean. All of her work is hand drawn, though she will look up typefaces online to see what looks good. But no crazy printer is involved here, as that would mean “losing the charm.” Everything Monica does at Northwest Handcraft is done by hand. “I draw by hand, paint by hand. It’s an old trade, an old skill.”

That attention to the classic has her clientele talking, meaning Monica is never really short on work. Aside from having a Facebook and website for Northwest Handcraft, her advertising is largely by way of satisfied customers spreading the word to other people. And it doesn’t hurt that Tacoma is a small town, either.

Actually, Monica attributes much of her success to the City of Destiny. “Tacoma has taken care of me. I love Tacoma and have been here my whole life. Now I get to pimp out the places I like, like with working with Zodiac before it even opened. I helped create a vibe,” she shared. “It’s my dream job.”

An example of Monica's work with gold leaf. Check out that detail!
An example of Monica’s work with gold leaf. Check out that detail!

If interested in having some custom work done, Monica requires meeting up in person to talk and get at the heart of what it is that you want to do. Simply reach out by calling 253-651-9533 or emailing

Wanting to take a leap of faith and follow Monica’s example? “Believe in what you do. Be willing to fail, and keep in mind that everything will work out eventually,” Monica advises. “Send out the right energy, and you’ll get it back.”