Typographic Signs in Need of Professional Help.

andi emery's picture

We've seen them in our travels, down the road from where we live and passed them on our way into work. They are signs and advertisements riddled with typographic errors that just make us cringe. They give meaning to the words, "Hire a Professional!" and instill in us the belief that wherever there is type, we are needed!

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TDF's picture

Theres a restaurant in Toronto called "Quotes" with inch marks in the logo.

Drives me nuts!

pattyfab's picture

The prime mark makes me crazy!

ESPECIALLY in an italic.

andi emery's picture

Google and ye shall find, Luke! Yikes!

andi emery's picture

Tell me about it, Patty. And like their sign says, they are all over London! Eeek!

Don McCahill's picture

Thanks for tracking that down, Andi. I was about to ask where it was. How could they. There is one good point ... it makes the mistake in not using S for St less noticeable. I read it as southwest, as they do in Calgary and was thinking ... King Street does not go southwest.

catastrophe's picture

It just disgusts me every time I pass by a business or ad with some typical typeface that has nothing to do with what it should convey. Around where I live Papyrus seems to be the default for hair/beauty businesses, and Copperplate is now used on a bunch of signage! My all time make me throw up font is Comic sans. A local burger place uses that to advertise their "Western Bacon Cheeseburger"..since when did that convey burgers?! Something needs to be done, before my eyes burn off!

Don McCahill's picture

Hmmm. Catastrophe did not read the rules on size of ID picture.

Comic sans is often used as a "different" font by people who see all serif and all sans as identical. I once worked with a teacher in a college program that printed all her tests and her assignment sheets in comic sans.

The kicker: it was an Internet Graphic Design course (she was the programming teacher, I was the design teacher).

catastrophe's picture

Haha sorry, I just signed up for this, so i'm getting used to it. I'll have to adjust that..thanks Don!

It's amazing to see how many people abuse comic sans. I've just seen it used one too many times in the wrong places.

Ever been to bancomicsans.com?

fontplayer's picture

I once saw a photo of a video store called "FLICKS" but the L and I were so close together it ended up spelling somthing quite different. That may have been intentional.
; )

Miss Tiffany's picture

That is being generous Dennis.

Paul Cutler's picture

Was it in West Hollywood? :)

peace

hn2o's picture

This is a nice one. I guess someone confused the ampersand with the german double s…

Paul Cutler's picture

You gotta also love B•A•R…

peace

andi emery's picture

Oh noooo, is that even possible?! Here's another priceless sign but it has more to do with proximity than anything else. At first glance, how do you read it?

Mark Simonson's picture

I think the person who used the German double s must have been dyslexic. If you look at it backwards, it does resemble an "Et" style ampersand.

jupiterboy's picture

I hate it when the car products are off, and I'm a little low on "care now" and I've been looking for some at a good price.

Thanks.

fontplayer's picture

Here it is, I just googled it.

Can it get any worse than that?

londontype's picture

I was right on the bumper an Audi Allroad the other day for several miles in slow traffic. I couldn't figure out the model name for at least three miles. Thought "oiirood" was a very strange motor moniker.

Paul Cutler's picture

quote - Can it get any worse than that?

Yes, I believe it can… :)

peace

Dan Weaver's picture

I saw a sign that said said: RUGS AND BROADLOOMS. The neon was bad and at night it said RUGS AND BAD LOOMS

jupiterboy's picture

A thread of dreadful combination stores could be fun. There was a local place that always made me roll that sold:

Propane Gas & Porcelain Dolls

Paul Cutler's picture

There's a great store in downtown LA that has two display windows. One side is bridal gowns and the other side is cheap childrens toys. Makes perfect sense, but the visual is really incoherent…

peace

andi emery's picture

The ol' "liquor, guns and ammo" store signs are my personal favourites. I can't even imagine selling all 3 in one place. I mean, recipe for disaster?

londontype's picture

There used to be a place in our community called Carpet & Burgers - known to the locals as Carpet Burgers. Sadly, I have no photo. It was gone before we moved here.

jupiterboy's picture

There used to be a place in our community called Carpet & Burgers - known to the locals as Carpet Burgers. Sadly, I have no photo. It was gone before we moved here.

Lovely

I'll have a Berber with cheese.

mwebert's picture

At a mall near my home, there used to be a big sign for a "Chock full o'Nuts" store. The "h" in the neon sign was out for months.

Made for a NSFW sign at night... :-)

--Michael.

------------------------------------------------------
// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee
http://homepage.mac.com/mwebert
mwebert@mac.com
--------------

fontplayer's picture

There was a local place that always made me roll that sold:
Propane Gas & Porcelain Dolls

I always thought a Lingerie & Bait store would make a fun match. I have seen some unlikely combinations with bait near the beach, which is what made me think of that one as a consummate pairing.

Bobby Henderson's picture

Being a full time sign designer, I share the disgust in typographical errors and other acts which I call "font murder" displayed on signs.

However, we're getting our money's worth when it comes to our commercial outdoor landscape. The sign industry has little if any glamour to attract lots of talented people. Good paying sign design jobs are rare. If we really care about the visually electric nature of our commercial streets we should be willing to invest more in them.

There is a small minority of talented artists doing very good quality work in the sign industry. They know "storefront personality" matters. They know the responsibility they have in their work, knowing if they sluff off uninspired dreck they'll be reminded of it everytime they drive past it, possibly for many years to come. At the same time they must fight from growing disillusioned by all the poor quality sign work they see others doing.

Today, most sign designers have no formal training, no art degree and are often terribly lacking in talent. But there are legions of such people who are willing to work for little pay. To most of them, it's just a job until they get something better -probably something not even art related. Since most business people still believe computers and software are creating the artwork they feel there is no need to pay extra for someone armed with an art degree and competent portfolio of work.

Paul Cutler's picture

Man, I love folk signage.

peace

jupiterboy's picture

You shore got a purty sign.

iBran's picture

This reminds me of the point-of-interest signs I saw while driving through Nebraska over the weekend. The design isn't exactly flat-out horrible--I think they're rather quaint--but lets just say it hasn't aged well over the years (not to mention the physical condition of the signs!)

andi emery's picture

You know James, that's just scary (I can hear the deliverance dueling banjo music being played in the background).

Brian, those are classic signs! And I agree, there *is* something quaint about them - and the different typestyles that are in use. Definitely a reflection of the time that they were made in.

dezcom's picture

James' "fixturs for sale" sign is quite honest and unpretentious. It does not bother me one bit. It is just some poor uneducated guy selling his stuff as best he can. The bad stuff is that done by people getting paid for signage and doing a poor job of it. Bobby is right in his post above and he echos the problems faced in all kinds of design work--where the perception is the computer just does it by itself.

ChrisL

dtw's picture

Wherever you have text signs, you get concerns over crap spelling and proofreading as well as crap design and punctuation. There's a business in our town centre with "LETTINGS AND MANAGMENT" etched in 4-inch caps on the front window. I keep wanting to go and draw an insertion mark and an "E" with a felt-tip but never have the guts. Etched lettering can't be cheap, surely somebody okayed the job before it was done?

___________________________________________________
Ever since I chose to block pop-ups, my toaster's stopped working.

jupiterboy's picture

James’ “fixturs for sale” sign is quite honest and unpretentious. It does not bother me one bit. It is just some poor uneducated guy selling his stuff as best he can.

That sign is at the end of my street. I've been wanting to snap a photo for a month now. I'm with you—I really love things like this, and marvel at the character of it. The painter didn't need to use three colors of paint. You can tell is was a very honest and joyful expression.

eliason's picture

For some reason in Minneapolis you can find several tanning/video stores. I never understood that combination.

crossgrove's picture

Chinese Hamburger Donut

fontplayer's picture

Ok, I saw this Wed. and went back to get a photo for this thread. Do you think it conveys the image that they probably wanted?

(Is it Pro Spa, or Pro Vivid Spa?)

fontplayer's picture

I wanted to let that one sink in as a prelude to this:


Is it nine fonts, or only eight?

fontplayer's picture

The signmaker's masterpeas:


Seven fonts on one sign.

As I was walking back to my car, an oriental man comes out saying, "Why you take-ah dah photo?" I replied, "As an example of bad sign-making. An internet group is discussing bad signs, and I wanted yours to show them."- He looked back at it with a consternated look, as I decided that 95 degrees was just to hot to stand in a parking lot trying to make someone who doesn't speak English very well to understand that using all the fonts in the computer can not be equated with any kind of classiness.

ER's picture

Dennis, I'll be your P.C. guide so you don't get in trouble anymore. It's "Asian", not oriental, and "take-ah dah", while funny, could cause a visit from our monitor.

But GOD DANG IT!!! what a sign!!! That Asian's got style! He really got his money's worth, sort of.

Now, how about a corporate sign, where it's a really high class joint, and they still don't get it. That would be fun to see. The graphics on the murals at a Panera sandwich place near my house drive me nuts. They're about 10 feet tall, all bitmapped, multi layered goo that tries to look sophisticated. I like the muffins though. er

fontplayer's picture

and “take-ah dah”, while funny, could cause a visit from our monitor.

I was phonetically translating as best I could. (P.C. isn't spoken on the planet I come from).
; )

fontplayer's picture

Btw, I can just imagine a designer rear-ending someone at that intersection, and having to explain to the police that he went into typophilic shock when he saw it.

amyp's picture

Excellent post from Jessica Helfand on Design Observer last year...I made my students read it and made for a great discussion about what makes for "effective" typographic strategies ( or lack there of).

vinceconnare's picture

it's Dutch, eh....Den Haag

Grot Esqué's picture

Chill out, ER.

Bobby Henderson's picture

The Pro Spa banners and window graphics are a riot! That just about qualifies as ransom note signage.

One cannot even attempt to make sense of the combinations in fonts chosen. It's like someone pouring a big glob of mustard on top of chocolate ice cream. The "PRO" letters set in script and all caps is the mark of a true amateur, one without talent, one who doesn't care about how things look or all of the above. However, I can say one nice thing about those samples. They don't appear to have Arial in them.

ER's picture

The phrase "grand cru" carries a deep resonance in French wine culture. Literally, it means "great vineyard." It has deeper resonance when the first quote is backwards and at the bottom.

Thanks, that's just what I wanted to see! Perfect. ER

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