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.  

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