Tag Archives: Lettering

3 commercial signs in Northern Kenya

Lovely ‘g’ in a functional garage sign, stencilled or hand-painted?
Air gauge and water
Standard hand-painted commercial ad to look like a printed ad using script typeface, to look hand-written… or am I reading too much into this?
Osho - we grow with you
Hand lettered shop sign in a formal style.
Chips, sambusa and soda
I’ve posted these after reading the section on ‘vernacular typography’. I could just have easily chosen a similar set from Stockport Road in Levenshulme, in South Manchester > except that I don’t have the electronic copies to hand. The point about these is that somebody’s painted them, so they have some personality in them. Even the full-shop front painted ads – which are really common in Northern Kenya, especially for mobile phone companies – have to fit around the individual shape of the shops. Mobile phone company full shop front ads would be a good topic for documentation here I think.

Heptonstall churchyard again

This is a closer look in bad light, bit of a struggle to to make the characters more visible.  However, includes some ‘N’s and ‘y’s with nice flourishes – and a really nice ‘1792’  towards the end.

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Anatomy lesson – Heptonstall churchyard

Heptonstall churchyard – from another set of photos I’ve had hanging around for a while – lovely handcut letters on 18C (thereabouts) gravestones.  This is a tangent away from the typographic jigsaw puzzle exercise…  The characters are very simple structurally, with the strong shadows showing up the cutlines particularly around the serifs, and some lovely flowing numbers.  The cutlines intrigue me – they are the way in to looking at the anatomy.


Mostly the letter characters sit between a single baseline and topline (technical term?) with a mid-line proportionally in between.  Lower case ‘a’s and ‘g’s  are double storied which must have been quite hard to cut, and the ‘f’s are interesting too… details in next post.  The numbers are much more interesting with descending tails and curly flourishes.  As dates feature quite heavily on gravestones, there was a lot of scope here.  What I like about this exercise is getting in close enough to see how the characters are constructed, and noting the consistency, ie this is much more of a technical process than it looks when wandering about with a camera in sharp light.  I found drawing the letters and copying them into the notebook from the photos to be a useful exercise.  Also toyed with the idea of copying the ideas and creating a diy webfont, maybe…  Another interesting thing is how the style of lettering changed about 20 years later, much more uniform and looking machine made?  Just a different person’s style, better tools, different fashion, whatever.  And, when does lettering become typography?

copying characters

Anyway, last photo here is another tangent, just included for some scene setting texture… different day, different light. 

nice texture