Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sign Collage

Roadside sign collage from around the world

This sign collage was organized in a similar way that a famous artist organized the objects in his paintings (with the dividers). Can you name the artist?

This sign collage is perfect for the minimalist wall.  Look closely and you'll see that some of the ideas are just a tad bit naughty, but certainly not offensive.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Plastic, Graffiti and Color--Signage Warped by Time

Mix of serif and sans serif fonts on sign
Designers didn't follow the rules on this sign. Add the elements of time and...tick, tock...you've got an array of bad design, graffiti and rust on a sign that's falling apart.

From the get-go, this sign breaks the graphics Golden Rule of mixing sans serif and serif typefaces, the former with no sticks on the end of the letters and the later with them.

This type face is serif.

This type face is sans serif.

 If you have trouble remembering which typeface is which, just be aware that sans means without, so that sans serif means without sticks.

If you're not sure where the sticks are read about fonts to get educated about them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Sambo's Controversy

The Sambo's sign has a controversial history


A tale of a little boy outsmarting tigers, saving himself and others from certain death became one of serious racial overtones. So the story goes as written at the turn of the century: a little boy goes loses his clothes when tigers antagonize him. In the end, the tigers turn on each other, melting into butter that ends up coating Sambo's pancakes. This is the root of the Sambo's controversy.

Earlier in the century the name Sambo had been associated with a controversy surrounding the book, Little Black Sambo (forthcoming image), published in 1899. The boy's overriding characteristic was that he was very dark-skinned, a trait that some took advantage of to label him with stereotypical African demeanor. Sambo morphed into controversy when other publishers took on the new version of the character, publishing books that depicted him derogatorily.

The character Sambo, recreated by Sambos began not as the morphed controversy that had been created, but returned as a heroic young boy of East Indian descent. Many refused to see Sambo as he was originally. When the owners of an increasingly popular restaurant chain decided to brand the turn-of-the-century Sambo's tale as part of their namesake in the 1960s, an explosive controversy erupted questioning who Sambo really was that ultimately caused the business to fail.

In the 1960s and 70s, the restaurant chain Sambos in the United States grew quickly as a popular place to grab a breakfast anytime. By 1981 1,117 restaurants in 47 states which had the Sambos name (originally a combination of the owners' names Sam and Bo) quickly came under fire by accusations of racism. One restaurant shut down after another. The next year all but the original restaurant in Santa Barbara, California shut their doors.

As you can see from the Sambos case, much experimentation and research needs to be done before designers come up with final logo. Logos lend themselves to controversy because the characters within them are often distorted and out of perspective, leaving them open to be connected to negative symbols and stereotypes used throughout history.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Best Mid-Century Modern Sign Award

The Roy's sign in Amboy, CA has to be one of the best in the world.


If they were to be an award for the best mid-century modern sign in the world, it would have to be this one.

To be sure, it's not the grandest, biggest nor the most elaborate, but it is positioned in one of the best settings for a sign, which is what makes it so special.

Nowhere is a sign surrounded by almost nothing but sky and flat land, leaving the sign isolated for beautiful photo ops.

Catch it at the right moment with the right light and just the right amount of cloud cover, and you've got a classic desolate-yet-stunning image of what life was once like decades ago.

Lotta Livin'

Friday, February 08, 2013

Pink Elephants from Cereal to Signs

Pink signs are attention-getters.


Pink elephants bring to mind the mid-century era cereal Crispy Critters. No matter what you do with a pink elephant, put them in a cereal to eat or a sign to get your attention, you'll be noticed with a smile.