In part through the influence of the fantastic Vernacular Typography project, I’ve become obsessed with one particular manifestation of the typescape that surrounds us all. The one most likely to avoid our ever-forward-looking gaze, in fact: the type beneath our feet.
Wherever you go in the urban, and even the rural, world, you trod upon the words of others. And you hardly ever notice it. Granted, these are words of purely utilitarian value—at least, that is their primary intent. But as I’ve discovered these ultimately disregarded and yet wonderfully resilient signs, I’ve noticed a peculiarly poetic element to their time- and elements-scarred contours, to the strange messages they so often convey when divorced from their familiar contexts.
The small sewer cover above, for instance, struck me for its lovely textures and rusted color, which seemed to echo beautifully the decay and squalor you expect to find beneath its thin metal plate. And the fading away of the S pulled the word ewer to my mind—a ewer being a vase-like pitcher used to hold anything a person might drink. Richly ironic contrasts abound!