The Typographic Signage Project


“Arguments take place about this sign: does the upside-down letter and mispelling of the word “fountain” represent a design affectation in the hip Wicker Park neighborhood?”

The Chicago urban environment is layered with graphic signage that crosses boundaries of time and culture. On a single city block it is possible to see elegant, vintage signage from the early 1900s juxtaposed against modern, color-saturated awnings. Signs designed by the slickest of graphic designers are placed next to handwritten scrawled messages. Signs in English are near signs in other languages advertising the many ethnic businesses springing up in the city. The typographic urban environment is not designed: instead, messages are layered one on top of another, creating an ever changing pastiche of textures, surfaces, stylistic and cultural contrasts. The exuberance of this signage makes the city a visually exciting place to live.

The Typographic Signage Project

Photo: Copyright © TSP

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