The Hinano sign 1962, Hinano sign 2023 and Bud with assistant Chelsie Foster (Photo courtesy Champ Foster).

Picasso painted masterpieces for seventy-five years. Local artist Bud Harris, has been painting signs for over sixty-five years and is still going strong. In 1962 he was commissioned to paint the sign to Hinano Cafe (“Bar, Burger, Barbecue.”) Hinano means “Beer” in Tahitian and is located on Washington Blvd just east of the Venice Pier.

Recently the new owners of Hinano agreed they needed a new sign and reached out to Bud who despite being a senior citizen, went to work immediately. On Monday, Bud’s sign was installed and celebrated with beer and fanfare. So it’s with utmost admiration that I’m labeling Bud “the Pablo Picasso of sign painting.”

Fun loving, and colorful, Bud was born in Temple City northeast of downtown L.A. As early as Junior High he realized how much he enjoyed painting. He went to Pasadena City College and after that set out to conquer the world, or at least leave his artistic fingerprint. Determined, he moved to Venice in 1958 and opened his first shop, “Bud Harris Signs” also on Washington Blvd.

For Bud painting Hinano’s sign was just a walk across the street. Actually, multi-talented as Bud is, he helped build the bar and worked as a bartender for over a year. Easy going and jovial, he made friends with everyone who came in for a beer or a burger. Bud is part beatnik, part hippy, but all fun. Understandably he has a wide circle of friends, young and old, who love hearing his stories and I’m fortunate to be one of them.

Given his skills, soon Bud’s sign painting business took off. Put it this way, if you see a sign on a business in Venice or Marina Del Rey, there’s a decent chance Bud painted it! Also if you see a senior citizen artist driving a golf cart he bought in Catalina many years ago and it looks like he’s having a blast, often with a friend or two in the cart, that’s definitely Bud.

Bud’s success over the decades can be attributed to talent and charm, but he thinks there’s also a degree of fate. For example, when he closed his shop on Washington Blvd and opened a new one in the Marina, it was a stone’s throw from a sea full of boats and yachts. At customers’ various requests, soon Bud began artistically “lettering” these seafaring vessels, which may sound easy enough but isn’t.

Sometimes the boats can back up close enough to the dock that Bud can do his lettering, but other times he would sit in a dinghy in the water, secure it to the vessel and paint away. One of his customers, a neurosurgeon, was so fascinated watching Bud work he told Bud he had a steadier hand than he did. (Bud joked with me, if that’s true, I’m not sure I’d want that guy to operate on me.)

Given the Marina Del Rey dock clientele, not surprisingly Bud did lettering work on numerous boats of celebrities. Among his favorites were actor extraordinaire the late Hal Holbrook who won a Tony, five Emmy’s and an Oscar nomination. Bud became pals with Holbrook as he did with comedian Dick Smothers of the famed Smothers Brothers.

I met Bud over six years ago through Honey Brady, a neighbor of mine and a dear friend of mine and Bud’s. She meticulously kept Bud’s bookkeeping and was an indispensable gal Friday. However, on a tragic night I will never forget, a very concerned Bud called because he couldn’t reach Honey, which wasn’t like her. He rushed over only to discover to our inconsolable sadness, Honey had passed away.

A week later Honey’s friends, including Stephanie Sanford, who had been close to Honey for forty years, had a touching memorial for her on the beach she loved so much. I was told my next column, “Elizabeth Brady Was Pure Honey,” meant a lot to her friends, especially Bud.

Stephanie began visiting Bud weekly and was kind enough to always take my latest column. Bud became one of my biggest fans, but worried the “Maga Maniacs” might come looking for me. To calm his concerns, I explained how I deal with angry readers.

In my return emails I always write, “If you’re only half as angry as you sound, then I must be doing something right.” But I also thank them for taking the time to email me. Occasionally a few critics used humor instead of hate which became amusing for both of us.

During her visits to Bud, Steffi planted a garden in his backyard resulting in delicious cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile, Bud continues with his art, as does Steff with hers and I continue writing these columns. In sixteen years I’ve written over 800 “Laughing Matters” inspired by admirable people like Bud, Stephanie and Honey.

Hinano Cafe is located at 15 Washington Blvd, just east of the entrance to the Venice Pier, (310) 822-3902, Jack is at: and encourages his readers to Google: “Elizabeth Brady Was Pure Honey.”