Ghost Town

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Portland is a ghost town. Although the city isn’t deserted, you can find ghosts hidden amongst the buildings, layered on surfaces of every kind, littering the city streets.

Last week I was in Portland for XOXO and no matter where I turned I found myself haunted by old street signs and giant banners that were fading into the background of a modern city landscape. A landscape where big and beautiful letters are almost entirely forbidden.

Even electrical companies had wonderful lettering work commissioned, and I especially like the spacing between the letters of the word ‘Electric’ above (which you can see if you zoom in a little). You can tell that a masterful eye, someone with years of experience, drew those letters very carefully. And that’s only because it’s easy to find letters cramping eachother’s style and it’s even easier to find letters that are floating about in an ocean of empty space in a word. But that spacing above? That’s nothing but damn fine skill.

On Saturday last week I woke up and went for a little hike around the city and stumbled upon Portland Outdoor Store, a curious building with wild and eccentric letters plastered all over the facade. Old advertisements for various items hung above the main sign and were peeling at the edges:

I cannot tell if that sign is a real sign that really advertised saddles and if this store really really once was a ‘Horse Outfitters’ or whether this is just an elaborate Portland-esque bout of irony. Either way, lovely stuff.

Back to that store name lettering though: I adore how squarish that ‘Outdoor Store’ is. The O’s is particular remind me of Cyrus Highsmith’s work with Occupant Fonts where everything is adorably crooked and off-kilter.

Also! The neon sign for this building is #%$@*&:

See how those letters get smaller towards the bottom of the sign? It’s so absurdly adorable to me. I really should have returned to see this thing all lit up at night huh.