Archive for the ‘Stencils’ Category


November 29, 2013


Here’s a sign with a sense of economy, making the most of just six letters and a punctuation mark.

The rough-hewn look—what seems to be spray paint on plywood—is in keeping the world of vinyl records and analogue recordings.

I am so curious whether or not the store owner’s initials are really L.P. If so, how perfect.



September 3, 2012


I was in Peterborough recently and noticed this banner. I’d like to say it was part of a massive project with endless versions of the word “Type”… but as far as I could tell, that wasn’t the case.

Still, I appreciate this small celebration of typography and its infinite possibilities. Perhaps it will trigger a movement and eventually the townspeople will be watching Helvetica and discussing the finer points of sans serif typefaces in local bars.

Typomania is catching, as Erik Spiekermann once warned.

Post No Bills

June 2, 2012

Post No Bills

A renegade sign maker decided to counter this Post No Bills notice with an enthusiastic call to action.

I appreciate the fact that the lettering is similar to the original. It’s like a disaffected high school student mimicking the voice of the principal, but with a message of liberation.

The word “ALL” gets the stress here, as if the sign maker expects a tidal wave of communication to be released.

When I last checked there were hardly any posters on the wall. For the time being, the prohibition is holding sway.

Update, June 23:

I neglected to mention that when I took the photo above, the head-to-head combat between Post No Bills and Post All The Bills was happening along an entire alleyway. The picture shows just one skirmish.

Recently there’s been a reaction, a barrage of posters depicting a dizzying array of Bills, many of them figures you’d recognize and also some you might not. A once spartan hoarding is now a giddy Name That Bill extravaganza.

Can you identify the Bills in the sampling below?

Post No Bills

Post All The Bills

Post All The Bills

Post No Bills

Post All The Bills

Enjoyed this post? Browse Stencils

where are the animals?

November 23, 2011

where are the animals?

Here’s an enigmatic postscript beneath a rusty old No Parking sign. The stencilled red words demand attention and the upside down question mark adds intrigue. The message seems to be crying tears of blood.

Is this the lament of a former country dweller, who is missing the presence of wildlife? Is it the cry of an animal rights activist, enraged by murderous vehicles? What do you think?


August 16, 2011


I saw this sign on my lunch break last week. A colleague pointed out that it’s not very easy to read and he’s right. The low contrast lettering is too close in colour to the background to jump out.

The business name and phone number are exceptions though. Perhaps the signmaker thought these are the most important elements to highlight.

I took a risk that day, stood close to take this picture and escaped with my life and health intact.

Caution Icicles Falling

May 23, 2011

Caution Icicles Falling

I snapped this photo in the financial district just last week, tangible evidence of our late spring.

Collapsed and laying flat on the sidewalk, the sign looks defeated. By now it’s probably packed away in a storeroom, where it will rest for the next few months.

Happy Victoria Day!

Toronto Disposal Ltd.

May 16, 2011

Toronto Disposal Ltd.

My dumpster fixation continues. Trust me, I’m strictly interested in their outsides, not their insides.

Here it’s the name that grabs me: Toronto Disposal Ltd. It implies that they’re tossing our city itself into the garbage. And in a way, they’re correct. Brick by brick and block by block our city is being dismantled and replaced with something glossier.

The next time you pass a dumpster, show some respect, because it might be part of your neighbourhood in there.

Try Less

April 19, 2011

Try Less

This sign seems to be a handmade stencil: someone has probably used it to mark walls around the city, and now it’s at rest in a window.

It’s funny the way elections are the officially sanctioned time for us to display signs in our windows and on our front lawns. But why not other times of year as well? Why not other messages?

Is this sign the quiet launch of a “try less” movement? Where do I sign up?

City Wide

October 21, 2010

City Wide

When I started this project I didn’t expect I’d become a connoisseur of dumpsters, but there’s something about their scarred exteriors and utilitarian labels that I find compelling.

Here I like the way the letters are spaced out across compartments and the words are staggered instead of aligned. Even thought these letters are damaged, they announce themselves with the charisma of celebrities… and I’m defenseless, ready to gawk and ask for autographs.

Zone D’Affichage

August 25, 2010

Zone D'Affichage

Here’s another sign I came across in Montreal. You’ll find it on a boarded up stretch of St. Laurent.

I’m so used to seeing “Post No Bills” signs in Toronto that it’s a delight to see the opposite message. And I like it that the message is where a commercial sign once was. These empty storefronts have become a noisy barrage of posters and street art.

Something I enjoy about Montreal: it’s a city that gives you permission.