change in face

I took this picture in Chilocathe, Ohio as I was driving to my son’s karate tournament (there’s something I never thought I’d say!) 1 chillicotheI had to pull over because I was impressed with this sign. It seems pairing typefaces is the holy grail in the world of typography. If you can do it, people want to know what the secret is. If you can’t do it, well…it’s obvious. Since I have noticed that this is something that a lot of people struggle with, I thought it’d be interesting to put a post together that documents pairings I have come across.

*Disclaimer: I’m super opinionated about typefaces on a sign and what I think works and doesn’t work (as you will see). You’ve been warned. 

I consider Globe Furniture a success. If both words were set in the same typeface, this sign would be a snoozefest. Furniture is what is being sold so it makes sense that that’s the word in script. Globe has no ego as it is smaller and raised to the cap height of Furniture to give that word extra importance. Great sign.
Albuquerque, NM:
2 abqI am a fan of this type pairing but the horrendous kerning kills this sign for me. Also, if you aren’t going to be consistent with your type choices when branding, why bother?! 3 abqMaster Cleaners is rolling the dice but a good example. Pairing a script and a serif is like punching with brass knuckles on. The punch is already going to sting, the brass knuckles just take it to another level. They are both strong typefaces on their own so putting them together is a risk but in this case, it’s a knock out! 4 abq 5 abqDetail of the handlettering on the window (look at ‘and’ – adorbs!): 6 abq 7 abq 8 abq 9 abq
Atlanta, GA:
10 atlOMG with that g. Or is it a lasso?
Austin, TX:
This sign has potential…too bad i can’t read it. Mexican Cooking XXXXXX’s. That s seems to be sprinting for the finish line. He’s running so fast he has made the rest of the word illegible.
11 austinSouth Congress is like the ‘good on paper’ boyfriend. He works in theory but when your relationship is under the microscope, it’s just a hot mess. 12 austinI’d be willing to give Shiner’s Saloon a chance if I couldn’t drive a truck through the S and h. This sign has killer potential but it’s shooting blanks. 13 austinI think Perry’s is well done although I did have to Google to confirm that it is in fact Perry’s and not Terry’s. Unrelated: it’s hard to find a nice script typeface that also has a nice apostrophe. I’m not sure why that is. This is pathetic:14 austin
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
I love this sign. I’m not sure what is going on with the letters in Cathedral but shit just got real:
15 cuyahoga falls
Cleveland, OH
Did ‘Euclid’ get added after the fact? I feel bad if I comment on the kerning (or lack of) in this sign so I’ll just borrow the quotes from “since 1903” and say “the kerning needs work”.
16 cleveland
Nashville, TN:
17 nahsville
Miami, FL:
Well done:
18 miamiThis one is interesting: 19 miamiThe handlettering and spacing could have been better. 20 miamiBut the L caught my eye: 21 miamiA change in type mid-word? Sure, why not?! Check out this S: 22 miami 23 miami
Sioux Falls, SD:
I love how ‘Inn’ is perfectly spaced and the same width as the orange box above it. Great sign.
24 a south dakotaGreat sign. 24 b sioux falls24 c sioux fallsNo. I mean you can look at this and tell this is a cluster, right?! *cue the circus music* 24 sioux falls
Tampa, FL:
This is the kind of sign that makes me fall in love with typography all over again. 3 typefaces and yet, it works!
25 tampaThe title of this sign is called “Reasons Why I Should Have Hired A Professional”. Looks like this sign was hand lettered using white out. 26 tampaSimple. Elegant. 27 tampaI saw this sign hanging under an awning and took this picture because of that E and that apostrophe (!).28 tampaYou know that feeling when you can feel something bad is about to happen? I don’t know why I felt that way but I did and it was a very real feeling. I stepped out into the street to see how that apostrophe was handled on their street sign and saw this: 29 tampa‘sup Comic Sans. Let’s all back away slowly from this sign and move on to…
San Antonio, TX:
30 san antonioThis sign has elements of greatness. Those ‘i’s look like they are about to pass out. Good thing they are at a hotel!
Tequisquiapan, Mexico:
We went mining for opals (no, really!) in Mexico and I found this gem:
31 bernal 32 bernalPairing typefaces is tricky and there is no formula that works for every situation. I have found that looking at signs that don’t work and figuring out why that is, is the first step in learning how to pair typefaces successfully. It also helps to be very opinionated in what you are looking at!

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