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Graphic artist finds inspiration in European signage

European Signage
European Signage

On a recent trip to Italy, seasoned graphic artist Elizabeth Goodspeed developed a fascination with overseas signage. Entranced by the vivid colors and intricate designs, she found herself documenting numerous examples as she journeyed through Venice’s labyrinthine streets and rustic Tuscan hamlets.

The varied visual communication methods sparked her interest and prompted a deeper dive into Europe’s signage history. Goodspeed plans to mesh this new curiosity with her established career in graphic design, integrating these international design elements into future works.

In northern Italy, Goodspeed devoted considerable time to studying the spectrum of signages. She was particularly attracted to a medley of styles – from metal-crafted apothecary symbols to hand-built Looney Toon characters and mosaic-tile lettering. She noticed a unique visual language in the small, artisanal shops showcasing these unique storefronts. The interplay of light with their materials during different times of the day resulted in unexpected color and shadow bursts. Each signage was akin to a captivating story, reflecting the business’s brand and personality.

For Goodspeed, signage is not just a navigational tool; it’s an artistic canvas narrating a visual tale. This perspective underlines signs crafted by non-professionally trained individuals. These self-taught artists infuse their creations with raw, unrefined creativity, morphing mundane signposts into unique art pieces.

Infusing European signage into graphic design

Their unorthodox methods birth original designs that challenge mainstream visual communication norms. Each sign, to Goodspeed, is a story – a creative life depiction as seen through the creator’s eyes.

Goodspeed traces her signage fascination back to childhood road trips with her father. She clearly remembers unique signs, such as the ones used by Kentucky’s drive-thru alcohol vendors, featuring Western-style fonts and palm tree images. The contrast between the rugged Wild West theme and the tropical aesthetic piqued her interest in the diverse world of visual cues and symbols. These experiences honed Goodspeed’s appreciation for signs’ communicative power.

She values unorthodox sign designs that may seem startling or unappealing to some due to distorted letters, bold color combinations, or unconventional design approaches. Despite their odd allure, these designs left an indelible impression on Goodspeed, attracting her with their ability to push aesthetic boundaries. Such unconventionality didn’t repel her; rather, it held a magnetic allure for her as it defied standard design conventions.

This fascination with local signages is common among travelers exploring unfamiliar territories. The allure of the unknown intensifies our awareness of daily details, like sign designs or electricity sockets, transforming ordinary signs into captivating works of art. This exploration refines their appreciation for diversity and design in commonplace items, enhancing the intrigue and stirring a sense of novelty.

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