Vegetarians, avert your gaze.

Fewer things go better together than meat and whatever is next to meat.

In the open dining rooms of many a Texas meatery, that companion to meat just so happens to be typography (printed, painted, scrawled, drawn, lettered, what have you).

The signs of these establishments are honest and direct. In all shapes, styles, and formats (and sometimes obscured by decades of smokey oak) they unequivocally point the way to meat.

What follows is a pictorial survey of the meat and corresponding typography & lettering of some of the finest BBQ I have ever known.

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An assorted sample of vernacular typography and lettering found recently in New Orleans. There’s no single dominant style of lettering, but rather a mix of everything (hand painted, hand scrawled, fading ghost ads–many layered over even older ghost signs, tile, neon, and about any other type of signage imaginable). The connecting thread seems to be the omnipresent plastic beaded necklaces twisted and dangling over most signs.

Also, beignets.

Woodward Vernacular Typography Cafe du Monde Beignets and coffee


A Philadelphia section has just been added to the main archive (HERE), with photos primarily taken along the Market-Frankford SEPTA line in West Philadelphia.

The area is predominantly residential, though the population has dwindled in recent years. There are small commercial clusters around the El stops, but lots are mostly vacant and storefronts boarded up and decaying. Work from public art initiatives like the incredible Mural Arts Program pop up all over the city and brighten blighted areas and transform public space.

Here’s a quick preview:

Here’s an interesting interactive city map that gives a larger view of the vacancies in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods (link).


If you’re around the Chelsea area in the next few days, stop by the Joshua Liner Gallery to check out the ICY sign shop with work by Sean Barton, Lew Blum, Justin Green, Mike Lee, Dan Murphy, Steve Powers, Alexis Ross, and Matt Wright.

In addition to the work along the walls and the tornado of grocery style signs, there are work tables and nooks set up in a carefully curated chaos (the flotsam and jetsam accumulated throughout the course of the show).

The most interesting parts are the stray bits, the practice marks, doodles, and guidelines that are normally invisible or go unnoticed in a finished sign.

ICY makes the signs that should be all over New York. There’s a life to sign painting that can’t be recreated in cheaply cut vinyl and mass produced signage.

Perfection Is Standard, Mistakes Cost Extra
ICY Signs + Stephen Powers
Joshua Liner Gallery
540 West 28th Street
Through November 16


Venice is one of the strangest and most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

The city is made up of 118 islands, some connected by small footbridges and others accessible only by boat. On streets along the lagoon, the sun bounces off of the greenish water, casting an eery and beautiful glow on the surrounding buildings. Inland, the streets are labyrinthine and narrow, with shadowy walls along passageways that preserve signs and markings from long ago. The water (along with its sometimes sulfur smell) is pervasive and somewhat startling.

The most common letterforms in Venice are the nizioletti, the streets and numbers stenciled directly onto buildings. Street names are stenciled with black paint on white rectangles, framed with a black border. Numbers and directional signs are stenciled in red on white backgrounds, though newer yellow signs with black type is common for directions to the more popular tourist attractions.

Much of Venice is geared towards its estimated 20 million tourists, rather than its 60,000 residents. Banners protesting oversized cruise ships and stickers mocking the Disney-ification of the city are prevalent throughout the streets.

Photos from Florence and Rome on the main site. Non-typography photos of Venice here. Full set of Venice typography photos will be posted soon.