Monday, November 8, 2010

In early September, I was in Los Angeles assisting with the opening of a small, independent record and vintage goods store owned by a relative. As I tend to be slightly artistic, and as there was a shoe-string budget for the opening, my boyfriend and I were determined to would climb up on a ladder outside the store and hand paint the fa├žade with the name of the establishment. Called the Wonderland Pop Culture Emporium and featuring goods primarily from the sixties and seventies, we decided to do the name in a swirly, curving, and “psychedelic” style font. After completion, I stood on West Pico Blvd looking up at my handiwork and contemplating what the font I’d drawn implied about the contents of the store, and the overall atmosphere that it would provide.

Wonderland Pop Culture Emporium in Los Angeles sign by Becca Price and Chris Larson

First, a handmade sign obviously signifies an independent store. The “psychedelic” font that I painted most strongly represents a mellow, free-thinking, and laid back establishment. Unfortunately, a stranger on the street could possibly surmise from the above description that the store is cheap, or poorly run, but I feel that the way the lettering was done conveys an openness or friendliness that a handmade sign in a different text might imply. In addition, the stenciled name on either side screams "PUNK ROCK!" to anyone familiar with the genre.

This got me thinking more about the visual impact of fonts, and how they can help or hinder the message being presented. For example, consider the phrase “I Love You.” If I were to type that in, say, the font “Edwardian Script ITC” it would appear as:and convey to the reader a sense of romance and formality. However, if I were to write that same phrase in the font “Earwig Factory,” it would appear: completely altering the feeling of the message and perhaps making the reader feel stalked by an obsessed acquaintance. Remember, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

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