Art of sign design in New England

View from the northeast corner of Halibut Point State Park

Last summer, I found myself not only void of fresh inspiration, but in desperate need of both a physical and mental health day. I hopped on the commuter line from Boston and planned to spend the day biking and exploring the 30ish miles around picturesque Cape Ann, trusting a muse might find me. And she did. Each curve along the path gave way to yet another breath-taking view of the rocky New England coast, complete with a cloudless blue sky, the occasional sailboat, and at least one lighthouse in the distance. It’s no wonder scenes such as these have inspired artists and authors alike.

My day ended with a well-deserved waffle cone on Bearskin Neck in the coastal town of Rockport. Having spent the majority of my day immersed in the natural beauty of the landscape, I found the wharf to be a friendly transition to the hustle and bustle of the concrete city to which I would return all too soon. Lined with boutiques, cafes, and fishermen shacks, Bearskin Neck is the epitome of a quaint seaside village. As cliché as it may appear and as touristy of an attraction Rockport has become, the designer in me couldn’t help but drool over the wooden signs marking the entrance of each small shop. Uniquely shaped with colors, textures and hand-crafted type fitting for each location, these wooden signs paired beautifully, not only with their respective business, but the ubiquitous charm of the seaside town.

 

Signs I found along Bearskin Neck in Rockport, MA

Several months back, I stumbled upon the trailer for Sign Painters and as a result, have grown increasingly aware of the declining usage and appreciation for well-crafted signage (and with it, the proper use of well-crafted typography). Too often do we encounter designs whose colors, layouts and default fonts communicate nothing about the location or its purpose. Such was not the case in Bearskin Neck. It was a warm reminder that the extra effort to take the many steps past the required content and default font is well worth it.

 

If you’re partial to beautiful scenery and a mild workout, I strongly recommend the route and stops along the way suggested by photographer and all-around adventurer, Jonathan Ellinger.