Great Coffee

July 23, 2012

Great Coffee

I love signs that take you back in time. Here’s one that looks like something from another era.

Look at it long enough and who knows, maybe you’ll be transported to 1950s Toronto, in the seamless way Owen Wilson’s character time traveled in Midnight in Paris.

The cartoony exuberance of the lettering is touching and the scattering of yellow stars adds extra zest.

I’m going to make a point of trying the coffee here and when I do I’ll report back. If I end up time traveling, I’ll let you know.


July 15, 2012


This wall of posters illustrates the virtue of repetition. See a word often enough and you’re likely to pay extra attention.

In this case the word is practically audible. It’s like listening to a somewhat manic language instructor.

The wonky lettering creates a playful feeling. Check out the unusual “K”. The quirky illustration is a perfect match for the eccentric appeal of the letters.

I can’t wait to try Mamaka’s spanakopita. If it’s anywhere near as flavourful as this poster, I’ll fall in love with it.


Yaniv Fridman: To Do List

July 8, 2012

Now that July is here, it’s a great time to rethink your to do list and find ways to enjoy life more. Here is just the video to get you started. It’s by graphic designer Yaniv Fridman and to say that he has a gift for animating type and graphics is an understatement:

What’s your favourite use of type in the piece? I have a particular fondness for the “G” in “Give More”, which goes from being closed to open, but there are so many gorgeous moments to savour.

Here’s to a fantastic summer! And many thanks, Yaniv, for an inspiring message.

Enjoyed this post? Browse Videos

Get your butt into…

June 23, 2012

Get your butt into...

Chalkboard signs have a quirky, offhand way of commanding attention. I think part of the reason they can be riveting is that it’s rare to get a handwritten note these days. Coming across a chalkboard sign is like receiving a lovingly crafted message from a close friend.

Shopgirls is a Parkdale clothing boutique that amps up the appeal of chalkboard signs by creating a whole assemblage of them. I get the feeling they would have kept right on going, but the structure likely wouldn’t support much more.

This sign goes out of its way to be affectionate and if I were a woman, who knows, I just might obey its command immediately.

Enjoyed this post? Browse Arrows

Skyline Restaurant

June 16, 2012

Skyline Restaurant

This Parkdale diner’s sign has a lot going for it: neon, primary colours, an evocative name, contrast between casual script and bold caps…

And that arrow: it gives you a friendly nudge if you’re feeling hungry and not sure where to eat.

If it’s ancient (and it likely is), it’s no doubt been refurbished. It has a teenager’s zip and the vintage style of someone who’s been around for decades.

In short, this sign captivates me. I want to buy it a burger and a Coke and listen to its stories.

Enjoyed this post? Browse Script


June 9, 2012


Usually I don’t find signage announcing new condos noteworthy, but this string of letters and numbers caught my eye.

Read the sign downwards and you see the word “NO”, which might be what neighbours opposed to gentrification are saying. Read it upwards and you get the name of the development.

I’ve written before about the way neon has a way of promising enjoyment. Here it’s combined with colour-saturated numbers and the word “Oz”, which could very well set off powerful cinematic associations.

Let’s hope the building lives up to the pizzazz.

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


May 24, 2012


I spotted this number on a gate post in front of a house. A brassy six is layered on top of a handmade predecessor.

I wonder why they didn’t paint the post before adding the new number. Maybe they didn’t want to be bothered.

Or who knows, maybe they discovered they liked the doubled up effect. Why settle for a solo number when you can create friction between two?

Then again, maybe it’s the home of a couple that argues a lot and it’s even reflected in the look of the front gate.

What do you think?

Erik Spiekermann: Typomania

May 17, 2012

In this insightful video, typographic designer Erik Spiekermann discusses typomania, the “compulsive urge to analyze the ingredients” of the words you see everywhere. (If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may have an acute case of typomania.)

My favourite sequence features Spiekermann grocery shopping in a tuxedo and commenting on the seductive lettering of packaged goods.

When Spiekermann happens to be in Toronto, I would happily give him a tour of this city’s typographic oddities and delights. And if it means donning a tux, so much the better.


May 10, 2012


I was passing by this church recently and overheard what must have been a live band playing Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”. I lingered for a while to listen.

I also looked up the organization’s website and found out that they provide community for people who need it.

Their sign is nothing like what you usually see on a church building. It’s also quite a contrast to the sleek condo signs in the vicinity.

These scrawled letters are unruly and untamed. At the same time they’re surrounded by brackets that contain them and embrace them.