The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we had the opportunity to speak with Castle Signs & Graphics’, Steve Shin, whose business began in Santa Monica and now calls the City of Champions their home.
Please give us some background on how the business began and when it moved to Inglewood.
Steve Shin: The business was established in Santa Monica in 1946. It was started by two friends that came back from WWII and wanted to open a business together. The Castle Signs’ name came from the Castle Brigade. All the signs were hand-painted like the Santa Monica Pier sign, which was also done by Castle. From Santa Monica, the business moved to West LA, and finally to the City of Inglewood eight years ago. We noticed all the growth and development that was happening in Inglewood and we wanted to be a part of all that.
What are you currently working on for Intuit Dome?
SS: We are currently in the bidding process for signs that will be a part of the arena. We specifically are going after creating the ADA/Braille signs, which is our specialty. All signs will be manufactured in the City of Inglewood near Randy’s Donuts, where our shop is located.
What is a story that you have from the City of Inglewood?
SS: In Santa Monica, we made a sign for then-Chief James Butts for his office. It is our wish to one day make a sign for Mayor Butts for his current office in Inglewood City Hall. A full circle moment!
As many small businesses are still closing due to the aftermath of the pandemic. What is the current state of your business?
SS: Covid shut down our business and we were on the brink of almost closing permanently in 2022 because it has been very hard to recover from the pandemic. We were tasked with doing very small projects at So-Fi Stadium. We are extremely capable but underutilized. The Intuit Dome work will help us stay open and be on the road to recovery. It is a plus that I am a long-time Clippers fan, so it is very exciting to be a part of their project.
What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
As a 1.5-generation Korean-American living in Southern California, AAPI Heritage Month is meaningful to me because it’s a chance to go beyond stereotypes and highlight the diverse contributions of Asians in America (more than just Kpop, sushi and boba). It’s an intentional time to reclaim our narratives, challenge stereotypes, and foster understanding. It honors our ancestors’ sacrifices and acknowledges ongoing struggles for equality and justice.
Thank you to Steve Shin for taking the time to speak to us and share the history of Castle Signs & Graphics. We would like to acknowledge our AAPI contractors and subcontractors that are a part of the diverse Intuit Dome team.