A curated collection of historic letterforms found in Minnesota from the late 1800s to the 1970s. This installation was my senior project and contribution to MCADs Senior Show.
Minnesota has a great visual history surrounding signage, storefronts and advertising. Designers and artists alike have looked to this library of letterforms and typography as inspiration for their own work. I wanted to uncover as much detail as I could about the history of these letters – who produced them, who they were produced for and who documented them.
I started my project at the Minnesota Historical Society and surrounding Twin Cities libraries. Gathering books and photographs of Minnesota storefronts and advertising from the late 1800s to the 1970s. I also went out on my own to document locations where vintage signage could still be found. After gathering photographs and information on each piece, I curated the letterforms that I would reproduce.
Originally these signs were created using traditional methods that make each sign and letterform one of a kind. Therefore I used a variety of traditional and digital mediums to produce each letter. The final piece was an installation of two 4’x8’ boards covered with the reproduced letterforms, a shelf with cards that had a single letterform and its information for a viewer to take away and an iPad with an interactive digital publishing document which provided information about each letterform.
I wanted viewers to take away the value of information and context attached to each letterform. I feel in this digital age it is too easy to find inspiration with no background attached. I hope that this work informs designers and artists of the value of knowing where their inspiration comes from.