Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Signs as Art

My good friend Larry, with whom I discuss all things sign-like, told me of a show he saw recently about Ian Hamilton Finlay and his garden, Little Sparta. I googled Little Sparta and found this site about it. What an amazing man Finlay was. Not only is his garden beautiful and thought provoking, but it's filled with signs! And not these tacky modern things like we create (we don't really make tacky signs, but his stuff is CLASSIC), but gorgeous carved stone ones. I heartily recommend checking out his garden. UK readers might be able to make a day out of it. It's not far from Bigger off the A702 near Dunsyre.

Larry also brings me comics like this one. We sign writer type people really appreciate this, because we know letterstyles inside and out. Before computers, we actually laid them out from memory, then painted them by hand. We were intimately aware of the shape of Palatino's serifs, Microgramma's width, and yes, Helvetica's straightforwardness. But now, everyone knows letterstyles or fonts because they have about 200 of them on their computer. I don't know that this a good thing. Sometimes I get customers who've printed something out at home and want it on their sign. Unfortunately they have picked an inappropriate font. See, fonts have personalities just like the cartoon says; some are fancy and silly, others are bold and strong, others are just the regular workers that you hardly notice, others truly shout at you. And that's why you let professionals guide you to the correct font. So you don't shout when you should be simply stating. So you don't look silly when you should look elegant. So you don't look grouchy when you should look kind. So you don't send the wrong message.

Ok, I got a little carried away there, but what I'm trying to say is: Select your fonts carefully. Because Vivaldi just doesn't look right on a tow truck. Oh, and the letterstyle at the top of the page is just about the most beautiful letterstyle ever. You can find it at the forum in Rome or on your computer as Trajan.

1 comment:

the homely year said...

Hi, maybe I ought to think about fonts a bit more. I'm going to try and be more observant about those I see. Both my eldest son and my son-in-law are trained as graphic designers (and my son-in-law works as one)so we do have some interesting discusions about different styles of design.
Margaret and Noreen