"A Vanishing Art" / by Maya Alexis

Before the proliferation of cheap vinyl printing, signage was created by artisans and sign-makers, and their work was naturally grounded in the local visual culture
— Moly the Creater, Vernacular Typography

One of my favorite visual elements of Los Angeles is the noticeable presence of hand painted signs. Unlike the Bay Area, most of the businesses here still use original artwork and vernacular typography to advertise. Some local typography...

   

 

 

Vernacular Typography attempts to archive this fading art form: "One vanishing art that can still be studied in the interstices of the assault of global retail is vernacular typography. All over the world, there are cities and towns that retain their rich traditions of vernacular signage. Unfortunately, the fate of these typographic havens is being threatened by the uniformity of corporate advertising, which ignores and subverts local history and tradition. This website seeks to collect and document examples of these vanishing symbols of art and culture." -Molly Woodward                                                                                              

The archive includes small details and subtle nuances of everyday scenes we might overlook. Parking signs, graffiti tags, and painted shop awnings are illuminated carefully to show the identities of the buildings they cover. Although the project has not made it out west, I am excited to see the identity of Adams Blvd and especially South Central documented and shared on this online archive.                                                                                         

Check out some other cool local vernacular blah 


*A similar initiative was launched by M+ to create a digital exhibition documenting the disappearing neon signs integral to Hong Kong's aesthetic.