Gift Wrap 2012 Mystery Paper #2 (of 7)

October 26, 2012  |  Elements

Here's the second installment in the contest series...enjoy!

I wanted the design to highlight something that was unique to Baltimore. This city is full of businesses, old and new, that boast beautiful signs in their storefronts. In some cases these signs are merely ghosts on the sides of even older buildings. They are a reminder of the companies and people who once made Baltimore their home. 

I toured the city on my bike and documented as many of these signs as I could find. The criteria for usable signage included anything hand painted or storefronts and businesses that have a significant presence or could only be found in Baltimore. There was plenty to see—it was helpful to revisit certain streets in the opposite direction to capture things that had eluded me the first time. I tried to branch out going as far north as Mt. Washington and as far south as Locust Point. After a week of documentation I had a substantial archive of photos to work with. 

I switched gears and began digitally extracting the words in the photographs. I then tagged the most interesting letterforms and assembled them into various compositions. I didn't want the letterforms to read as words so each letterform was blown up or shrunk down and placed within its own container to create a non-repeating pattern. The placement of each letterform (roughly) coincides with where it was documented in the city. The neighborhoods I documented are scattered throughout the poster based on their geographic location, although they tend to blend in with the pattern. None of the letterforms were repeated and at most only a couple of letters were used from any one sign. The color palette was meant to feel festive but not geared toward any particular holiday or event.