Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2006-01-31

A type-nuts vacation

A year ago I visited parts of Central America and like the super-geek that I am, I came back with plenty of pictures of signage. Recently, I have been coming across many conversations which relate to some of the signs, so I thought it was time I posted them.

For those of you who do not wish to be subjected to my vacation photos (and who can blame you, really), may I offer this link to an interesting contribution to the ongoing debate on appropriation vs. theft (via SpeakUp)



First thing I noticed was this signage from a local bus station in Belize. It looks like Blackletter with a woodtype shadow treatment. Apparently, Blackletter is quite popular in Mexico (see a great thread about this here)



I have a fondness for the layers created by flyers stapled on top of one another. They create a history of the ephemera of a city. In Flores, flyers are stenciled onto poles, creating a really rich tapestry. If this was a painting, I’d buy it.



Also in Flores, the signage for stores are hand painted. Again the same shadowing, but this time the text is more derivative of woodtype. Each time a location changes owners, the exterior is painted and a new sign is hand lettered. So while the New York Times is writing articles on the death of hand painted signs in America, it’s still thriving elsewhere. Also check out I Love Letterpeg for some great urban signage.



In Antigua. I wonder what Otto Neurath would say about this.



I’ve been reading Ellen Lupton’s book Thinking With Type. In it, she discusses how type designers, inspired by Ed Fella’s work, made a transition in revolt against earlier precedents:
“Letters, which for centuries had sought perfection in ever more exacting technologies, became scratched, bent, bruised, and polluted”

Of course I thought of this sign marking the approach to an active volcano. Everyone (who couldn’t read Spanish) thought this sign was indicating the danger of lava and noxious fumes emitting from the cone. It was only when I babel-fished it that I learned otherwise.
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