SWEET DELIGHTS OF PUBLIC TYPOGRAPHY
WRITTEN, PHOTOGRAPHED, AND DESIGNED BY BAILEY K. WELLS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VERNACULAR TYPOGRAPHY Sylas & Maddy’s
CONVENTIONAL TYPOGRAPHY Three Spoons
COMMERCIAL TYPOGRAPHY Cold Stone
Mmmm. Ice cream. Who doesnâ€™t love it? This sweet, delicious substance has always played a big part in American culture. Making a trip to an ice cream shop is something that we all love to take part in, no matter what age we are.
There are countless ice cream shops in the country. So how do we differentiate them? How do we choose which shop to go to when we are craving this tasty treat? A big part of the way an ice cream shop presents itself is through typography. Throughout this book, I will take you on a trip down Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, KS as I discuss the similarities and differences of the typography in three different ice cream shops.
SYLAS & MADDY’S Why does handmade signage speak to us so much? It gives us an instant feeling of intimacy, as if we are somehow connected to the artist that made it. There is something there that a computer can’t provide for us. It’s more human. It provides personality. It links us to the past.
THE CONTEMPORARY DEFINITION OF VERNACULAR TYPOGRAPHY IS DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING THAT IS DONE WITHOUT THE AID OF A COMPUTER. IT IS TACTILE, EXPRESSIVE, AND MORE OR LESS ‘UNFINISHED.’ [PAUL TOSH]
These descriptions donâ€™t necessarily make vernacular typography unprofessional: it simply means that there is a sense of craft instilled. In a space filled with this style of lettering, it creates an unrefined, but somehow nostalgic atmosphere.
My search for ice cream shops on Mass Street first brought me to Sylas & Maddyâ€™s. The hand-painted pastel letters on the front window immediately told me that this shop was intrinsic to Lawrence. I felt like the whimsical nature of these quirky letterforms reflected the community of the city.
The interior was filled with every kind of typography that could embody a community based ice cream shop. Each of the forty flavors were imitated by their own style of lettering on the menu, in a myriad of colors.
THE DRINK MENU WAS IN COMPLETE HANDWRITTEN FORM, ACCOMPANIED BY CARTOON DRAWINGS.
Other typographic examples inside the shop were their fudge sign, stenciled letters on the wall, a small vintage stained glass window reading â€œice creamâ€?, and other various small signs on the countertops. It was fun to search for how many differerent kinds of typography that existed within the store, and to see how each contributed to that feeling and style.
MOLLY WOODWARD, A GRAPHIC DESIGNER WHOSE MISSION IS TO PRESERVE OUR NATION’S VERNACULAR TYPOGRAPHY, TALKS ABOUT WHY IT’S PROTECTION IS ESSENTIAL TO SAVE THE COUNTRY’S HISTORY:
“Most BIG CITIES now have the same chains, and walking down the main street in any one of them can give you very little indication of where you are. Every CITY, VILLAGE, OR TOWN has a unique typographic heritage, but it’s being erased and replaced by GLOBAL CORPORATIONS AND STANDARDIZED SIGNS.
Typography is such a POWERFUL MARKER of regional identity and has the ability to capture the local character of a PARTICULAR TIME AND PLACE. If we let unique examples of lettering be replaced by standardized corporate advertising, our sense of place will be diminished, which is why it’s so important to document and preserve these VALUABLE CULTURAL SYMBOLS.”
THE FLAVOR MENU AT SYLAS & MADDY’S IS JUST AS FUN TO LOOK AT AS IT IS TO EAT THE ICE CREAM. THE LETTER FORMS SHOW LABORED HANDIWORK THAT WE CAN APPRECIATE.
THREE SPOONS As I continued down Massachusetts Street, I soon encountered Three Spoons. First to catch my eye was their chalkboard sign set out on the sidewalk. It seemed to have some of the same qualities that I had seen at Sylas & Maddyâ€™s, but at the same time, it lacked some of the whimsy I felt at the previous ice cream shop.
The type used in the logo is evocative of handwritten lettering similar to that of Sylas and Maddy’s. The orange and white text framing the window was informative of some of their menu items. Three Spoons essentially used vernacular typography that was similar to Sylas & Maddy’s and applied it in a more commercialized way.
IN OTHER WORDS, EVERYTHING WAS A LITTLE BIT MORE CONSISTENT FROM THE INSIDE TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE STORE.
LETTERING OF COMMERCIAL PREMISES WILL OFTEN RESPOND TO THE FUNCTION OF A BUILDING, BE IT A THEATRE CLAD IN EXUBERANT LETTERFORMS OR A DAIRY SUGGESTIVE OF A RURAL IDYLL. [PHIL BAINES]
Because Three Spoons had taken a more commercial approach, there was less playfulness in their use of lettering. The same font was used for almost everything, including their menu, signage, and on the packaging.
I saw many examples in which the store had taken advantage of their approach to branding. The logo was, once again, seen in large form on the wall. Surrounding the logo were reasons why their frozen yogurt wass beneficial to consumers, as well as large images of their product.
As I walked to the back of the store where the self-serve machines were, I noticed that the signs for the flavors of frozen yogurt were individualized in the same way that they were at Sylas and Maddyâ€™s: the difference was the replacement of hand lettering with computer made typography. Again, I saw a connection between vernacular type and this attempt at creating a modernized brand.
COLD STONE I eventually made my way to the other side of the street where I happened upon Cold Stone. First, I noticed how much more refined and edgy that the typeface in their logo design was. Secondly, I noticed how this exact typeface and logo were being used all over in other places on the outside of the store. These two facts made it evident to me that Cold Stone was an entirely branded ice cream shop. It was a step up in quality from Three Spoons, and far from being vernacular like Sylas & Maddyâ€™s.
IN DEVELOPING VOICE, DESIGNERS NEED TO FOCUS ON MORE THAN THE OUTWARDLY CHARACTERISTICS THAT TYPEFACES POSSESS. THEY NEED TO LOOK INWARDLY; NOT JUST INTO THE BRAND ESSENCE BUT ALSO INTO THEMSELVES. [NICK DUMITRU]
As I ventured into Cold Stone, I felt there was a definite tone of voice, based on their lettering choice as well as the colors. The colors were very classic; they seemed to hearken back to a retro diner but at the same time the theme was much more defined.
THERE WAS NO INSTANCE OF HANDWRITTEN TYPOGRAPHY IN COLD STONE, WHICH TOLD ME THAT THEY WERE A FULLY BRANDED COMPANY.
There were many texts within the interior of Cold Stone. Upon immediately going into the store, I was bombarded with menus, display cases, wall signs, and freezers all covered with typ. There were ads for different products, but they all were consistent in using the same two to three fonts that created a theme. It was clear that this ice cream shop was very commercialized and had a very separate identity compared to Sylas & Maddyâ€™s and Three Spoons. It was well branded and the type wholly contributed to the feeling of the store.
UNLIKE SYLAS & MADDY’S AND THREE SPOONS, COLD STONE’S FLAVOR DESCRIPTIONS ARE IN A CONSISTENT SIZE AND STYLE OF TYPEFACE. THIS ELIMINATES THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE MEANINGFULNESS OF THE TITLE TO THE ACTUAL FLAVOR OF THE ICE CREAM.
THE HISTORY OF COLD STONE
The company was co-founded in 1988 by Susan and Donald Sutherland, who sought ice cream that was neither HARD-PACKED nor SOFT-SERVE. Publicity materials describe it as “smooth and creamy super premium ice cream.” Cold Stone Creamery opened its first store that year in Tempe, Arizona. The company’s business model is the same as the one originally created by Steve’s Ice Cream’s founder STEVE HERRELL. The company uses in-store made ice cream that is combined with mix-ins, candy or other items that is folded into the ice cream to make a new flavor. Cold Stone’s name comes from the FROZEN GRANITE STONE, used to mix “mix-ins”: candy, nuts, or other edibles into various flavors of ice creams.
CREDITS DESIGNER AS AUTHOR PATRICK DOOLEY FALL 2011 THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS
“The Un-cultured word: Vernacular Typography and Image” by Paul Tosh
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT
“Naming Places and Defining Spaces” by Phil Baines
“Preserving Local Flavor with Vernacular Typography” by Sarah Korones “Typography, Typeface, and Relevance as Voice” by Nick Duitru www.Wikipedia.com
Archer Book and Book Italic, Interstate Regular