Saturday, September 18, 2010

Train Type

Found type (or secret code?) at 
the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgia.

I have a two year-old son who loves trains. Rather, he’s obsessed by them. Every time a train goes by, it’s a special event: we stop whatever we’re doing and watch.

I love to watch the trains go by too, but for considerably different reasons. Trains bring out the designer and typographer in me.

The sides of trains are covered with type that undoubtedly means something to company employees, but to me seem like mysterious abstract arrangements of numbers and letters. The messages are so starkly utilitarian and unselfconsciously ugly that I can’t help but love them. The best ones sit on a surface which usually has a weathered patina, further obscuring their meaning and adding considerably to their appeal.

I also adore transportation logos. They’re invariably rock simple, look sturdy as a house, and are adorably ugly. My favorites are those that look like they haven’t changed since the company was founded 75 years ago. But that’s another post for another day.

In the meantime, I’ll keep staring at the accidentally beautiful, abstract typography on the sides of passing trains.
More found type at the Southeastern Railway Museum.

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