Send me a sign

Unique storefronts and their signs have always fascinated me. I have always thought that signs did far more than just convey information. They provide you with an idea of what you would find inside – from the store’s aesthetic to its shopping experience. These storefronts often reflect a moment in time, capturing the cultural and visual trends of their day. In a society where we are constantly and continually changing and updating how things look these signs are one of the great ways to capture where we’ve been and how we perceived things at the time.


Several years ago I fell in love with the book Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York. James and Karla Murray’s fantastic book is a visual guide to New York City’s storefronts, a collection of powerful images that capture the neighborhoods, the people and the history of the city. Their book came out of a desire to capture the expression of the city’s unique and local retailers before they are all replaced by chain stores.

So I was excited to recently download the app Fontly onto my iPhone. Fontly allows a person to capture, map, and explore a world of environmental typography. Its goal is to create a living, collaborative, and digital archive filled with examples of unique type and signage preserving our visual heritage. The great part of this app is that it not only lets you capture and share the images but the map feature allows you to go and see your favourite signs yourself.

fontly_screensWhile it is a handy resource for design professionals its real value will be in capturing and archiving an important visual asset for urban historians and preservationists.



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