Signz of Mike


As a graphic designer, I spend much of my time with typography: selecting fonts, staring at the space between lines, staring at the space between words, between letters, and around the letters, reaching for the Tylenol, all to create a typographic “mood,” that is appropriate to the project and while communicating its message.

As designers, we lose sleep over things that most people don’t know exist, making the inherently boring deceptively interesting.

One day, while struggling with an uncooperative kerning pair, I turned to prayer and asked God for a sign. It suddenly dawned on me that the most visible examples of typography are right under our noses—or, most times, above our heads. They are the countless signs businesses display to let us know what they are about and entice passersby to enter and, in the best of all possible worlds, buy something.  

There are signs everywhere: handwritten signs, colorful signs, huge signs, small signs, signs hanging off the sides of buildings, signs in windows, signs in distress, neon signs, signs on buses—and in many cases, kerning appears to be optional.

I started photographing these signs several years ago, and soon, my smartphone and my Google Photo account were overflowing with pictures of creative signage — some designed by professionals, some by imaginative business owners, some by a waiter with a piece of chalk.

This site is a sample of photos I took on my journey to record interesting signs wherever I found them, from city streets to rural areas, from ballparks to restaurants, at night, and during the day. Once I got started, it became a borderline obsession.

Regardless of how they got there, they are designed to be noticed, declaring the uniqueness of each business. It’s typography in real life.

Next time you’re out and about, take a moment to look around and take in the veritable art gallery.