VENICE PREVIEW

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.

ICE

Ice boxes are a streetside staple of New York bodegas. The typography and architecture vary slightly from model to model, but the basic formula is the same: snow-capped red shadow type on a battered white cooler, somewhat obscured by hastily rendered tags and stickers. A few seen recently in Brooklyn and Manhattan:

RETURN TO NEWARK

Despite efforts to revitalize Newark, many of the businesses and storefronts in the downtown area remain shuttered and crumbling. Signs advertise businesses that are long gone and the ghost signs that pepper brick walls are fading away, being erased by weather and construction cranes. The signs and buildings that remain (like the beautiful Newark Theater Marquee, United States Savings Bank Building, and the Griffith Piano Company Building) are boarded up, advertised over, or covered by For Rent signs. Here are a few favorites (including a surviving Solari flip board in Newark’s Penn Station) from a recent trip to Newark, taken mostly on and around Broad, Market, and Halsey Streets:

More photos from Newark here and here.

BERLIN PREVIEW

Here are a few of my favorite shots from a recent trip to Berlin. The city has beautiful neon, fading hand painted signs, wild train station designs, Futura everywhere, Zoidbergs, some fine umlauts, and graffiti–lots and lots of graffiti.

p.s. I maybe accidentally deleted the main Vernacular Typography website. It will be back up shortly with a couple thousand new images. Updates will be posted here and here—>

ISRAEL PREVIEW

A preview of the new Israel section soon to be added to the main archive. Typography and lettering from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ein Gedi, Tzfat, Golan Heights, Negev Desert, random kibbutzim, and other places.

Woodward Vernacular Typography Desert Israel Gas Station

Woodward Vernacular Typography Desert Israel Neon Billboard

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Neon Sign

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Arabic Window

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Western Wall Trilingual Street Sign

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Peeling Poster

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Yad Veshem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Trilingual Sign

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Blackletter

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Script Typography Israel Tel Aviv

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tel Aviv Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tel Aviv Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tzfat Architectural Lettering

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Kibbutz

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Graffiti

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Handwritten Sign

If you’re interested in supporting Vernacular Typography, consider making a donation to the project through Artspire & New York Foundation for the Arts 501(c)3 HERE. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

GOODBYE CONEY ISLAND

Summer is gone and so is Coney Island as I remember it.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Astroland Park Gregory & Paul's

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Shoot The Freak Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Grill

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Gregory and Paul's

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Museum Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Coney Island was once populated by an incredible landscape of signs and symbols. The few storefronts that retain their unique signage seem more and more endangered with every visit.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign Clam Bar

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront Neon

Vernacular Typography Coney Island El Dorado Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island El Dorado Ticket Booth

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign Tilt-A-Whirl

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign Spook-A-Rama

In 2004, a Creative Time initiative attempted to revive the fading signscape. A group of 25 artists formed The Dreamland Artsits Club and hand painted murals in the area as well as signs for local businesses. Sadly, even many of those have since disappeared or have become isolated fragments.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Club Sign El Dorado

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Artist Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Artist Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Despite neighborhood opposition, development corporations continue to homogenize and strip Coney Island of its personality, replacing beautiful and inventive lettering with horrifically bland banners that are completely devoid of any aesthetic value.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island For Rent Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Retail Space Sign

Vernacular Typography Pathetic Coney Island Sign

Years ago, Coney Island felt like a typographic oasis, far removed from the standardized signs and sterile typography that now overwhelms most of New York. Today, it seems more like everywhere else.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront 2003

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront 2012

View 100 more images on the Coney Island II section of the main archive.

If you’re interested in supporting Vernacular Typography, consider making a donation to the project through Artspire & New York Foundation for the Arts 501(c)3 HERE. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

WOODSIDE PRESS

I just picked up some letterpress invitations printed at the incredible Woodside Press in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The press originally opened in 1993 in Woodside, Queens after acquiring equipment from the American Type Founders Company liquidation. In 1998, they moved to their current space, which is filled to the brim with amazing type paraphernalia and not just one, but two Linotype machines. They were nice enough to let me look around at some of their amazing stuff.

Click through for more

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SUNSET PARK STOREFRONTS

As more and more small businesses in New York are being replaced by large retail chains and banks, there are still a few neighborhoods–mostly in the outer boroughs–that retain some of their independence. Here are a few examples from a recent walk through Sunset Park in Brooklyn:

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Las Rodriguez Tire Shope

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn El Che Jewelry

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn La Fe Restaurant

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Good Foo

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Costambar Grocery

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Botanica 7 Potencia

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Geminis Barber Shop

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Dulce's Candy Store

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Varela Travel Agency

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Las Cenizas Restaurant

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn El Buen Gusto Restaurant

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Borin'queya Restaurant

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn La Familia Restaurant

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn V&D Wholesale

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Denise Auto Parts

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Reina del Rocio Grocery

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Reina de la Nube

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Sunset Florist

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Astromundo Travel Co

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Frias Grocery

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Hardware Store

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Edco Supply

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Templo

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Ortiz Funeral Home

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn The Hero Champ

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Ramos Grocery Sign

Woodward Vernacular Typography Sunset Park Brooklyn Grocery Sign