Octopus Car Wash Sign

The Octopus Car Wash Signs in Madison, Wisconsin.

The iconic Octopus Car Wash sign was a Madison fixture for 50 years and sadly it’s now gone. The carwashes were bought out by new owners and they have replaced the signs.

I’m glad I took photos of the Octopus Car Wash sign when I had the chance. A lesson on seizing the day I guess. In fact I had photographed them several times before and actually meant to go back at some point to perfect the photo some more. I shot it with pinhole, A Holga and this photo is with an Agfa Isoly I bought on Ebay from Eastern Europe. An Isoly is vintage German camera from the 50’s that uses good old fashioned 120 film. So I guess it’s fitting that this is the image I use.

Layering Technique for the Octopus Car Wash sign

I played with the photo a little in photoshop using layers thinking it may add a little to the vintage look. Winter is conducive for this kind of experimentation. Some days when I had the best intentions of doing something else, I just go off on a complete tangent. I think this particular day I had “Do sales tax” on my calendar. Somehow I got onto this idea, I can’t recall how it even came about.

I seem to like to do everything from scratch and the most challenging way. Trying to be more authentic I guess? The layers aren’t a photoshop filter or some kind of application I downloaded. That would just be too easy. The textures are from a folder I’m collecting of photos I’ve been taking to layer in photos like this. When I see an interesting looking texture I photograph it. Just a strait forward shot capturing the texture and save it for later use.

The borders are my creation as well. Of course you can buy borders online, but I’ve also started a collection of borders I have custom made in photoshop just using a brush tool. I play around with the brushes to get unique looks and save the file in a folder like I do with the textures.

This is kind of fun, I may have to do more of this.


  1. I love it and miss it. I saw one everyday on my way to work. Nothing there now. I am glad you have a nice photo of his smiling face! Love the look of the photo.

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