Railroad Passenger Car Lettering

We recently took our daughter on the “North Pole Flyer,” a two-hour there-and-back passenger rail excursion that comes complete with a wooden train whistle gift from Santa himself. While it was fun to ride in some older passenger cars and see the cramped quarters that were supposedly “first class” back in the day, the real treat for me was seeing the typography on the exteriors of the cars. Since the train was made up of a hodgepodge of cars from several different (defunct) lines, it provided a variety of graphical styles from at least a few eras. Here are some of the snaps I took:


There are Now Over 600 Photos in My Hand-Painted Signs Gallery

I’ve been snapping photos of hand-painted signs (or otherwise handmade) for as long as I can remember and only just today went over the 600 mark. After a recent trip to visit my former home, NYC, I discovered several new “reveals” that were the result of City Gates or Coca Cola awnings being removed during renovations. Luckily I had a decent enough camera on my phone to capture them with. After all the years of having this obsession, you’d think I’d never leave the house without my digital SLR. Click here to view the photos.

Nikki Villagomez – How Culture Affects Typography – Talk at AIGA Austin

Those of you who frequent this website should appreciate the relevance of this AIGA Austin presentation: On Thursday, March 27, 2014, designer, blogger and typophile Nikki Villagomez will share her thoughts on how culture affects the decision-making processes of everyday life. Her presentation includes pictures taken throughout her travels accompanied by a discussion of the comparisons (and contrasts) in typography choices based on location.

I’ll be there:

Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

506 Congress Ave. Suite 200
Austin, Texas 78701

Register here.

HandPaintedType Project

The HandpaintedType project is a collaborative, on-going effort to preserve, well,  the hand painted type of Indian street painters. A 10-minute documentary video introduces the project’s website visitors to a few of these forgotten masters as well as the computer-aided scoundrels who’ve made their skills “obsolete.” In the fast-moving haste of bustling Delhi, business owners prefer cheap and speedy Arial-based signs over the comparatively arduous, though stunningly artistic hand-painted banners of yore. [Read more…]

Vernacular Typography – a website, blog and film

newarkFellow type-obsessed collector, Molly Woodward, has embarked far beyond the shores of this occasional blogger’s endeavors with her website, blog and Kickstarter-funded film project, all appropriately titled “Vernacular Typography.” Visitors of my Hand-painted & Hand-made Signs exhibit may see some overlap, possibly in one or two sign photos, but definitely in a related passion for the often overlooked typographic relics scattered throughout cities as exotic as Havana, Florence and Newark. Her film has been successfully funded and I can’t wait to see what comes of it. While future generations may not have the real artifacts to admire and study, there will surely be sufficient digital archives thanks to the tireless efforts of folks like Molly. Cheers!

Vanishing Austin

Has that beautifully beat-up old sign you’ve driven past for years suddenly disappeared with a cold, glass and steel tower rising in its place? Obviously, if you’re here at NoRelevance.com you’re not alone. But if you’re also in Austin, TX then you’ve got a last chance to see some of those lost treasures and can even help save future vanishings. Vanishing Austin is a website dedicated to, well, basically what the name says. More specifically website owner Jann Alexander’s photographs of “Austin in transition contrast the often-contradictory beauty of the old juxtaposed against the new.” As an archivist myself of beautiful things lost to “progress” I can only stand on my chair and applaud such efforts. Ms. Alexander has also recently unveiled a new poster featuring Austin’s “Endangered Species,” available on her website. Good stuff!


Hand-Painted & Hand-Made Signs – Antigua BWI


JUST UPLOADED: Feast your eyes on over 20 beautiful, ugly, tattered and torn, hand-painted & hand-made signs from Antigua BWI. Signs from St. John’s, English Harbor, Rotten Hill and beyond are here for your drooling pleasure. View the thumbnail gallery or the slide show. Enjoy!

Eckhardt Signwork, an Inspired Font

eckhardt_signworkFinally, the fruits of my labor are made apparent in the new and ever-relevant dingbat font designed by Jeff Levine called Eckhardt Signwork. An archivist of forgotten letterforms, Mr. Levine was inspired by many a sign photo found in the collections on this website as well as on Forgotten-NY.com, a terrific site I once blogged about years ago. As with many of his previous fonts Eckhardt Signwork reveals a caretaker’s handling of the tattered lettering that lay within these scratched and rusty relics. And while I’ve certainly received emails from all sorts of folks thanking me for the inspirations, I’ve only seen a few examples manifest like this. I can’t wait to see “YES” appear in print one day soon!

Hand-Painted & Hand-Made Signs – Turkey

turkeyFeast your eyes on over 60 beautiful, ugly, tattered and torn, hand-painted & hand-made signs from Turkey. Signs from Istanbul (not Constantinople), Izmir, Selcuk, Effes, Kabak and beyond are here for your drooling pleasure.  View the thumbnail gallery or the slide show. Enjoy!

Hand-Painted & Hand-Made Signs – Vietnam

vietnamFeast your eyes on over 40 beautiful, ugly, torn and tattered hand-painted & hand-made signs from Vietnam. Images hail from such cities as Saigon, Hanoi, Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang and Can Tho just to name a few. View the thumbnail gallery or the slide show. Enjoy!

Hand-Painted & Hand-Made Signs – NYC

Finally, I’m getting these photos up for your viewing pleasure! Some beauties and some real dogs, but all hand-painted and hand-made with love, spite, anger, ecstasy or indifference. Feast your eyes on 189 (for starters!) new-old signs located in and around New York City and get ready for a LOT more from Vietnam, Turkey and elsewhere. View the thumbnail gallery or the slide show. Enjoy!


Metroscript Open Type Font

Surely by now you’ve come across Metroscript–a relatively new OpenType script typeface that’s being hailed as “one of the most complex digital script systems on the market” and rightfully so. Designed by Michael Doret of the Alphabet Soup type foundry, Metroscript takes full advantage of the OpenType format, which makes possible and incredible number ligature combinations and, thus, lends a more hand-made look to headlines and copy. My particular interests in it are from the standpoint of the computer-generated, cut-vinyl signage industry and its new tool for getting that hand-made look. Will it displace some old-fashioned hand-painters? It’s possible. Metroscript essentially presents the designer with a Rubik’s Cube of ligature options–most of which look good enough to print. So, I imagine many designers might end up wanting to use their comps as the finished product.

Faded Signage & Signpaintr

I once again bow in humble submission, this time to two Flickr groups, Signpaintr and Faded Signage, the latter sporting over 7,000 photos of hand-painted/hand-made signs taken by over a thousand members from all over the world. There are active discussion boards within each group as well as RSS feeds to keep up with all the latest additions.