A rare example of a book about graphic design—in this case roadside signs and lettering—where the investigation is conducted visually by means of photographs, diagrams, and annotation, as well as in longer texts. In a typical spread about the formal etymology of a motel sign in Amarillo, Texas, each part of the sign is explained in words and pictures. Representing eight years of research, Mahar’s 2002 study is an obvious descendant of Learning from Las Vegas. Its exceptionally detailed and cleverly sustained analysis is more illuminating than a purely text-led discussion would be, making it a paradigm for future visually inventive design studies.
As an appreciator of the American Landscape and signage, I bought "American Signs: Form and Meaning on Route 66" based on Rick's list.
Wow - talk about esoteric Post Modern psycho babel.
The author applies grid structures to many assorted signs without articulating why it is significant? Anyone could come in after the fact and assign a grid to anything. The author would apply lines with arrows that supposedly suggest the flow of the sign/typography - I don't see the connection.
The other thing is many of the photographs of the signs are really small therefore I needed to get my 4x readers out. What was difficult about these small images is they were comparatively analyzing each other for assorted reasons while I couldn't tell what I was comparing because many of the images were smaller than one inch.
I was so excited to get this book. I started reading it and realized it was coming from an academic who seemed more proud of an expansive vocabulary wrapped up in esoteric vernacular. As an academic I can usually handle this, but it was to much.
I did appreciate how social, political and historical events were tied in with the evolution of the roadside sign.
I wish I didn't need to be such a downer. Perhaps Rick can explain further why he recommended this one?
As a designer and marketer, who just happens to work in the sign industry, thanks for placing this book on your list! I'm not here to argue the "delivery" of the book but rather champion the continued awareness and celebration of a piece of disappearing Americana. Keep it up!