Lettering and signage in the urban environment of North Queensland's capital: tropical flair or univernacular?

Fleischmann, Katja (2011) Lettering and signage in the urban environment of North Queensland's capital: tropical flair or univernacular? Etropic: electronic journal of studies in the tropics, 10. pp. 83-95.

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Abstract

Many typefaces possess next to stylistic qualities also cultural and connotative properties. This paper describes an exploration of signage and lettering in the capital of North Queensland in the quest for a tropical typographic resonance. Is the vernacular typography alive or a vanishing art form?

A young designer recently posted a request for help on a graphic design blog: "I have to do a piece for the tropics... Can anybody recommend a typeface?" Replies to his request were sparse and mostly pointing toward websites with typefaces of varying quality available for free by download. These fonts were predominantly decorative in style, featuring a palm tree or leaf intertwining with a letter. Few of the recommendations could be considered to truly connote the tropics.

This exchange begs the question: is there even such thing as a typeface signifying the tropics? Is there type, lettering or signage that could be said to communicate the qualities of the tropics, or creates a corresponding sense of place? More specifically, is there a unique typographic landscape created through signage and lettering in the urban environment of Townsville, the capital of tropical North Queensland? In search of a distinctive vernacular typography, the author wandered the streets of the city, investigating type in both obvious and hidden places, discovering writing on forgotten walls and inspecting signage of business owners advertising their services.

Item ID: 23762
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-2940
Keywords: lettering and signage, tropical typography, vernacular typography
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2012 06:48
FoR Codes: 12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1203 Design Practice and Management > 120307 Visual Communication Design (incl Graphic Design) @ 50%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1203 Design Practice and Management > 120301 Design History and Theory @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950205 Visual Communication @ 50%
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