Earlier this summer, a nice group of people approached me at my signing at the CMU bookstore in Pittsburgh, PA and handed me a copy of Pittsburgh Signs Project, a photography book that features glorious photos of Pittsburgh's beautiful vintage signs. It turns out that two of the people giving me the book were among its editors, and they'd come by especially because I'd played an unwitting role in the project's genesis. Back in 2003, I blogged a set of photos of I'd snapped of Denver's signs (I'd been there for a conference and after a couple days I was so overwhelmed by the signs I kept seeing in passing that I jumped in my rental car and spent the afternoon shooting), and this, in turn, had inspired the founding of the Pittsburgh Signs Project, which invited the pittsburghese to send in their favorite images. Before long, they had a book's worth of astounding signs from many eras and of many genres, from every county in the area.
The editors -- Jennifer Baron, Greg Langel, Elizabeth Perry and Mark Stroup -- then gathered up their favorites and arranged them thematically, with brief essays and short snips of text from the photographers. But the words aren't the important bit, the photos are, and they're really something. The layout of the book hints at the lineage of the signs; of rival liquor store owners who duelled with typography; of peeling hand-painted ancestors from the dawn of commercial advertising; of careful, handmade steel typography over a metal-shop's awning. Put together, they make a sort of poetry.
I've always said that the way to make something beautiful is to make a million near-identical versions of it, let the ravages of time remove nearly all those versions, and put the remainder under glass (this is why we love Craftsman houses, Victorian row houses, old comic books, etc). Here's a great example of the phenomena: merely by withstanding time these totally quotidian objects have become evocative relics.
Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania (order book)
Pittsburgh Signs Project (website)
Chicago's Volante (previously) bills itself as "streetwear for superheroes," and I love their clothes. They've just released an addition to their existing canon of Star Trek-themed, cosplay-adjacent clothes: the Picard Sweater, a stretchy knit tribute to Jean-Luc himself, the perfect thing to wear while you're watching Wil Wheaton host "The Ready Room," which airs after […]
Last year, McMansion Hell (previously) inaugurated its annual gingerbread McMansion competition, inviting America's bakers to challenge themselves to build the largest, most ostentatious, most ill-conceived McMansion in gingerbread form.
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From OneDrive to Slack, there are numerous ways to store files online. Because many platforms offer a certain amount of free storage, it makes sense to mix and match. However, spreading your files across multiple apps can make things very confusing. Rethink Files offers a simple solution. By connecting to all your other cloud storage […]
Winter can be a difficult time of year for golfers. Between the freezing temperatures and frequent snow showers, maintaining your handicap can seem almost impossible. When the fairways are frozen solid, the PhiGolf simulator lets you practice at home. This device captures every nuance of your swing to provide virtual coaching. Better still, you can […]
Photoshop is one of the most widely used photo editing tools out there, to the point that it’s the default program designers think of whenever they need work done. Small wonder, too: The flagship software in Adobe’s creative suite is very powerful — if you know how to use it. There is a lot to […]