I was walking home this evening from my friend’s  birthday party when I noticed something written in chalk on someone’s door. I looked closely and realized it was their address for mailing purposes. But the handwriting really threw me off. It looked like 3900 SPYING GAYDEN ST.

I understand we all have different handwriting. Some people are neater than others. But this sign just interested me in different ways.

The first thing I thought about was what the person saw when he or she wrote it. Did it read to them as Spring Garden because that is what they saw or because that is what they know it should say? The writing was also very crooked. I am assuming they didn’t care very much about appearance. Function without craft is not a good thing. The sign is not very legible which defeats the purpose.

The second thing I thought about was how even though my brain knew what it was supposed to say, I still saw it as SPYING GAYDEN. When learning about gestalt however, I learned that our brain makes connections and fills in the blank. So when applying this principle, I would think that my brain should have had me reading the sign as Spring Garden because I knew that was what it was. Yet, it did not matter how long I looked at it or what I told myself it said, it still read to me as SPYING GAYDEN.

The third thing I thought about was pushing the idea of morphing typography as well as using typography as an image. Although I know it was not intentional with this sign, letters can be morphed to new things. letters can be used as shapes instead of letters. Letters and words can form new images. It is actually fun to do, using typography as expressive means of imagery. If the person cared enough, the sign could have been drawn in a way to resemble sprouting flowers. the elongation of the type led to eyes to see growing stems.

Ideas stem from mistakes. While the person who made this sign was not thinking about any of these issues and was simply addressing he or her concern about receiving mail properly, new ideas came from thinking deeply about this simple handwritten sign.


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