Research: Vernacular Typography

Vernacular typography can be very well crafted but it can also be crudely created signs done in a hurry. Either way it is using typography and lettering to create visual communications. Take a look around you and identify some vernacular typography that you find interesting. Document it through drawing, photography or by collecting examples. Remember to ask permission if you are photographing inside train stations, markets, shops, museums or shopping centres for example. Getting permission is usually straightforward, especially when people know you are working on a student project. In your learning log note down why you selected the examples you did.

I love the work of Ed Fella about whom I knew nothing. Even his title “King of Zing” is great. (1) Born to a working class family he graduated from college and went straight to work. He worked for thirty years as a graphic designer. Then at 47 he went back to college to get his Masters. This, apparently did not change his style but confirmed his beliefs. He is a lecturer in Californian Institute of Arts. I love this man…

His photographs of ‘vernacular’ signs are brilliant. I wish I could return to Africa to make some images of the great signs I saw there. His interest in these signs and notices is like my own in graffiti and signs.

The following site is really interesting:

This website seeks to collect and document examples of these vanishing symbols of art and culture.

I have always made images of signs I found interesting. I was unaware of the genre title as “Vernacular Typography”. In the final image of the Google screen snap for “Vernacular Tyography” I do not think most of these are truly vernacular. For me vernacular is either hand drawn, hand painted, hand sewn or in a hand drawn style.

These are some images I made in Chile which I think fit into this category:

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and these are some images I made in India.

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Finally while I was in Aix yesterday I thought I would be able to spot some real vernacular signs. This was not the case so these are some images from various places in France

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Finally I made a screen snap of a google search under vernacular typography













  1. . 2017. . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 January 2017]