Mr. Bill, Give Us a Sign


Photo used with permission of Bill Amundsen

Ava Parr, Staff Writer

Maybe you’ve noticed the bright, colorful, 16 by 16-inch signs that have been popping up around Stoughton. Each work is a striking mix of traditional Norwegian rosemaling and graffiti art. Bill Amundson, known to most Stoughton High School students as Mr. Bill, is the artist behind these eye-catching art installations. 

Mr. Bill has worked as a substitute teacher in the Stoughton School District. He explains how his creativity impacts his teaching. “I use my art education to try to be as creative as possible in my role as a sub. I try to come up with new and unusual ways to be entertaining and interesting,” Amundson says.                        

After winning a drawing contest on the back of a cereal box as a boy, he went on to design the cover of the Stoughton High School yearbook, be an adjunct art professor at the University of Colorado for five years, and exhibit his work in over fifty solo art shows. 

He describes how the signs started, during this Synette Mai when people in Stoughton were looking for alternate ways to show their Norweigan spirit while in quarantine. Since then, enthusiasm has boomed, with 1,030 signs sold and proudly displayed in front of homes all around Stoughton. It was an inspiration he has been wanting to explore for a while: “I’d been thinking about combining spray-painted stenciled signs with the Norwegian folk art of rosemaling for some time, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it.” 

The process goes something like this: Amundson first designs and cuts a stencil, inspired by traditional rosemaling designs. After that, he prepares a 16-inch plywood square with a base color and spray paints the stencil pattern over it. After it dries, he takes the square into his studio area, where it is hand-painted with dots and designs. Finally, the square gets screwed to a stake so it can be put into the ground.

 Amundson elaborates on the impact he wishes to have on the community with this project. “I’m hoping it will become something of a community project that everyone will have pride in.  I want to have the work reflect our Norwegian cultural heritage in a new and contemporary way.  I want the work to be an art form that’s unique to Stoughton and comes to represent Stoughton in all it’s weird Wisconsin glory.” 

You can find Bill Amundson’s art on his Facebook page Amundart Hus, and