Saturday, April 30, 2016

The OOPS! file: numbers and letters that just miss the target

Street signs are supposed to tell you where you are and describe what something is.  Clarity matters most, of course, but so does design.  Even when you can read a sign without ambiguity, there is--or should be--an internal logic, born of the mechanics of the pen stroke and the habits of the reading eye, that gives the lettering integrity.  Still, here and there you see a small blooper.  IF you are a calligrapher, you can't not see it.  

It's good for our eyes to pay close attention the calligraphy style of what we read.  Every once in a while you will be rewarded with a sign that makes you ask, "What was that designer thinking ?!"  Take a picture and start a collection.  

Here are a few from my OOPS file: 

This swash on capital I got kind of carried away with itself, and now I find it hard not to read it as a capital T, that turns Infanta and Isabel to Tnfanta and Tsabel. 
Segovia, Spain.  

 This small a is missing the last little square stroke at the lower right corner that would make it more readable, while the n is just plain turned backward, or as graphic designers call it, "flopped."
Teatro Cervantes, Segovia, Spain

The right corner of this small e has its point  snipped off.  The correct form is shown next to it. 

The numeral 3 in this 32 has been installed upside-down. It looks top-heavy.  The lower curve should actually be a little larger than the upper curve.   

The W at left is backward, all too easy to do when using stencils.    

The design at right is clear and simple, but the edges of the white letters disappear where they overlay the beige background, making the M, in particular, hard to decipher.  Tomas turns into Tovas.  

The thick stroke should be on the left and the
thin stroke on the right (it's correct in the
brass letters below, set into the pavement).  

I pass this sign almost every day on the corner of Boylston and Clarendon St, and wonder who turned this V around: the architect, or the installer, or the fabricator.  It's a common mistake, for those who have never held a calligraphy pen in their hand.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The last few letters from Spain

A few letters from my recent trip: M and S, in honor of, well, me.  

If you squint at O S O (cropped from "El Coso" logo), it can look like a face staring at you through glasses.   


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Two Spanish calligraphers and their eye for letters

I was lucky to meet Spanish calligrapher Juan Quiros in Valencia, and talk about freelancing, his life as a calligrapher, and the rich assortment of letters he sees on walks around the city.  The picture shows us having tea in the Colon Market.  

Joan and several like-minded friends have opened my eyes to all the other letters I can see if I manage to come back some day.  
On Facebook, David Quay has the eye of a genius for beautiful and interesting Spanish letters.  I wish I'd seen this letter-artist's stream of wonderful photos.  Evidently I just scratched the surface of the riches offered by signage in Valencia and Barcelona.  Next time!  
Interested calligraphers can friend them on Facebook and follow their urban letters.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Iron monograms

Valencia's architectural style offers a lot of ornamental iron work, along with a lot of tile (they even put decorative tile on the underside of little outdoor outdoor balconies!).  Often an elaborate iron gate in a doorway includes the initials of the building's title. 

B + V 
G + B

J + C + M

A beautiful example.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Moorish flavor in a few Spainsh calligraphy signs

Well-chosen calligraphy helps add flavor to simple logos and signs.  Spain absorbed 800 years of Muslim influence on art, architecture, dress, cuisine, and music.  
Here is some creative lettering from restaurant signs, reflecting the underlying Moorish influence in Spanish art. 

A sign for a Flamenco venue at left evokes the arched doorways, keyhole screens, and pointed domes of Moorish architecture. 

The flowing curves of Arabic calligraphy appear below in the letters of another restaurant. 


Monday, April 4, 2016

Madrid street numerals

I saw these numbers recently on the streets of Spain.  The 17 at right is a particularly ornate example of the many tile numbers that designate homes and businesses.  

Left, a favorite Spanish color scheme of blue, turquoise, yellow, and gold--also a favorite Moorish palette.  

Below, a metal 4 has pleasing curves.  And an almost unreadable 13 (?) challenges interpretation.  

And these three were from tile, for house numbers in Toledo; very standardized but appealing, nevertheless.  

I've collected several more numerals from Segovia. One is carved in granite, with both strength and elegance, on the base of a statue.  Two are included simply for their color.   

Friday, April 1, 2016

The fame in Spain stays mainly in the A's

I've started collecting examples of the letter A that have caught my eye on the streets of Valencia, Madrid, Segovia, and Toledo.  Here are a few from my walks.  

On my next trip, I will have to bring a zoom lens.  Meanwhile, thank you for tolerating their low-res graininess:  

A simple letter A, except for the little 
extension of the cross stroke to the left.  


Raised letter carved in granite.
                    Two As from the same logo.