There has been a trend for a while now in cafes, restaurants, apartments around Melbourne (and I imagine, many other cities in the world) towards a certain kind vintage-sign nostalgia. Old Coca-Cola advertisements, hand-painted signs advertising long-forgotten cleaning products, metallic menu boards. Hand painted is the key factor here. I must admit that I am a bit of a victim of this myself – my new apartment boasts a large painted metal “4” which I “borrowed” from the local service station back when I was 17.
You can only imagine my excitement last month trekking through the Himalayas and discovering a plethora of absolutely beautiful, old, hand-painted signs scattered through the mountain villages of Nepal.
There were clear thematic similarities here – brightly coloured metal, high contrast, large lettering. Punctuation, spelling and grammar corrections added at later dates. Occasional animals and mountain references. And of course, lovely, unique, hand-drawn typography. Each one by a different artist (or artist), each with its own creative flourishes.
Of course, any nostalgia imbued in the signage here is entirely mine. These signs are not nostalgic, or ironic, they are intensely practical. This is essential international communication, this is art and commerce together at work.
Lacking the ability to take any of these beautiful signs home, I decided photographs would have to do, and began obsessively photographing every one that I saw – I have posted here a small collection that I hope is representative. One day soon a few of my favourites will be printed life size and will take pride of place beside my old service-station “4”.
:: Reuben ::