Friday, August 3, 2012

Words + Image: Pondering Signage

While in Newfoundland for a couple weeks I found myself looking at many different types of mostly outdoor, but some indoor, exhibitry and signage.  That, combined with some current thinking with Rainey Tisdale about creativity on a shoestring, made me realize that sometimes, money hinders a presentation that connects with audiences and sometimes simple changes and solutions really make a connection.

Here's some of what I found along my tour of this incredible place.  (and the the way, I'm now a huge Newfoundland booster--go visit, it's terrific!) Above, one of my favorite labels on the beach boardwalk at Trout River.  It's done by school kids from a photo and really provides just enough information.  That's enough for me to understand about capellin while I'm on the beach.
This is from Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America.  Again, it tells you what you want to know as you look out over the sea--and nothing more.  Also from Cape Spear, these interpretive panels are very simple, but the cut-out shapes and the large graphic make all the difference.
Below, something I didn't love at the Discovery Centre in Gros Morne (where I did see other things I liked).  Clearly a very expensive exhibit,  but I found myself utterly confused by what I should focus on first, what the interactives meant,  and so much text on vacation made me give up pretty quickly.
There seemed to be more variation in national park signage than I see here in the United States and I really appreciated it.  Below,  a panel from Gros Morne,  that shared information about an aboriginal guide and invited you to reflect as you walked along the trail.  It fit beautifully into the landscape, as you can see. Next,  an unusual round panel from a wet hike in Terra Nova, another national park that was very simple,with just a brief amount of information.
Two panels from Signal Hill in St. John's.  The first, a panel on fog that made me laugh because there was so much fog you could barely see the panel!  And the second, an old school identifier--a shiny brass plaque from the 19th century, still cared for with pride.
The temptation for too much text is always with us.  Here's two panels from the same small museum.  One I suspect is hardly read by any visitor;  but the second shot shows how clear thinking and decent photos convey important information.
I was interested in these outdoor panels that used graphic, almost cartoony imagery at Gros Morne National Park.  They felt like lovely children's books and I found myself much more attracted to them than the scientific illustrations or hard-edged photos often found in installations like these.
I saw a couple pieces of audio signage that made me want to learn more.  First, one from St. John's that I didn't get around to calling, but as I understand it,  takes you to an audio of personal stories about that particular place.  The second, a series of small, hand-carved very simple dioramas with audio at the Discovery Centre in Gros Morne.  The audio was music, or first person dialogue--interesting, and intriguing to do with the carvings.

And finally, two home-made signs.
Have any great examples of signage to share?  


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