We’re a bit jet-lagged from our vacation series last month, but it was worth visiting some excellent local typographic treasures. In case you missed any of the destinations, we’ve created this handy map with all our stops (and links to each article). Kudos to Liron for organizing it and Luisa for creating these cool passport stamps we used to mark the series.
You can also find all of the posts here. Happy travels!
Neon sign paying homage to its past at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City, Missouri.
As much as I wanted to go on a nice, long vacation this year, a summer full of work prevented me from getting the R&R I really wanted. Despite that setback, I’ve been spending the last few months catching up with friends, eating tasty food, and listening to lots of music.
When I first moved to the Middle of the Map from New York City in late 2012, going to see musicians perform was one of the many things I would do to alleviate the culture shock and homesickness that would come over me without warning.
I always enjoyed going to concerts when I lived in New York City, but there’s something unusually comforting about going to a show in a new place. Everyone may be a complete stranger, but you still feel connected to them because you are all there for one reason: to listen to the music.
For someone who is still pretty new to Kansas City, I have experienced so much of what the city has to offer. However, the list of things I still want to do exceeds what I have done so far.
One place on my “To Go” list is a Honky Tonk Blues Roadhouse called Knuckleheads Saloon.
Last spring I found myself desperate for a vacation while also paying off also my student loans. Like the scrappy gal I am, I decided there was only one thing to do—mooch off my parents!
I was vaguely aware of their plans to travel to Cancun for spring break, so I asked if I could join their all inclusive adventure. They agreed. I was off to Mexico!
After five days of touristy ~chill~ we decided to take a boat to Isla Mujeres.
If the boats on the pier were any indication of the lettering I was about to see on the island, I knew I was in for a treat.
The grand view inside Sagrada Famíla
Of the many cities I’ve visited over the years, Barcelona never ceases to amaze me. It’s forever seared into my brain as the dream city of Art Nouveau — where I saw the celebrated 19th century architect Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família and realized the imagination has no limit. As a creative working in the commercial sector, I’m all too familiar with compromising great ideas by bits and pieces as they come to fruition. But Gaudí had an extraordinary ability to turn his dreams into reality.
Gaudí: The Peak of Modernisme
Like many, I view Barcelona as the city of Gaudí. With all its Modernisme influences, it’s a city full of dreamy Catalan Art Nouveau, of which Gaudí stands at the peak. As Martin Filler said in The New York Review of Books, Gaudí was one among an extraordinary generation of local architects who embraced Modernisme, the distinctive Catalan variant of Art Nouveau which drew heavily on the Romantic revivalist renaissance movement of mid-19th century Spain.
The British have coined a (rather depressing) term for a vacation spent in the UK rather than travelling abroad: staycation. Last weekend I decided to make the most of my own “staycation” and, on a typical rainy and gloomy summer afternoon in London, I took the Victoria line up to its very end, all the way to Walthamstow, to finally visit God’s Own Junkyard.
I don’t want to play favorites with Indian scripts, but I have to admit that ever since I became interested in type, I particularly love Bengali letterforms. The Bengali (‘Bangla’) script is the writing system for the Bengali language, the seventh most-used language in the world and is primarily used in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and South Assam.
A few years ago, I had an opportunity to visit Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, known as ‘Calcutta’ during British colonization. Kolkata is feted for its art and cultural heritage, symbolic of both the bygone British era as well as the Bengali Renaissance. I associate a sense of romanticism with Kolkata, with its trams, the Howrah bridge, and Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry. However, Kolkata in person is simultaneously romantic and chaotic. This duality can be experienced not only in the visual landscape of city life but also through its letterforms. While many examples of elegant Bengali typography exist, the streets are also flooded with bold vernacular lettering on busses.
Last September, after getting laid off from my job, I did what every American is programmed to do in times of existential crisis — hit the open road. Unsure of my future, I decided to drive south from my San Francisco home to visit friends in Los Angeles. I had plenty of time before starting my next chapter, so I decided to take the scenic route: California Highway 1, on the stretches known as the Cabrillo Highway and the Pacific Coast Highway.
For nature, go to Big Sur. For some fantastic vintage signage, keep heading south on the PCH.
It’s no surprise that we type folk like hanging out in old cemeteries but it’s an extra treat when these cemeteries include the memorials of long-deceased type heroes. I’ve always known that Frederic and Bertha Goudy lived and worked in nearby Marlboro, New York. This excellent silent film on Type Culture shows Fred Goudy at Deepdene, their home and workshop. The Goudys’ workshop, an 18th century mill, burned down in 1939 (along with many of his type designs and fonts) and the home was torn down in the 70s, so there’s not much left to see on the Old Post Road property. However, I recently discovered this blog post from the Marlboro Free Library. Part of the library’s Goudy collection includes a photo of a memorial tablet in Newburgh, a small city on the Hudson river that has seen better times (but is trying hard to make a comeback). Although this probably requires some confirmation, according to this 1986 newspaper article, Fred and Bertha’s “mingled ashes” are buried beneath. Wow!
Here’s a screenshot from the article, with some lovely details about Fred tossing type out the workshop window.
Plans for converting the home into a school for type design? *swoon*
In 2012, I was invited to a wedding of my Polish friends and while there, I very quickly realized two things: the Poles really are experts in singing, dancing, drinking, and eating; and that areas in western Poland were formerly German. I discovered the former with the wedding itself and the latter while walking through the small village »Gryfów Śląski« the next day. There, I stumbled across German ghost signage in combination with a Polish street sign and I was instantly transported back to pre-war times.
As already stated elsewhere, I’m very lucky to live in a part of the Europe where the rest of Europe goes on holiday. As such, I recommend you come and see it for yourself, so I will not spoil your future experience of it with photos of stunning landscapes that do not do them justice. Okay, just one.
Schlern, a beautiful rock in the Dolomites.