There is no typeface that can sum up a city, I would argue that this is even more so the case for Los Angeles, with its schizophrenic positioning, constant and continuous mix of cultures and influences, languages, changing industries, its varying neighbourhoods, and its fondness for creating the fantastical and escapist…but I have mentioned this all before, and it truly not unique to Los Angeles
Of course, all cities sit atop layers and strata of their previous incarnations, and ghost signs can be found in villages. The temptation to overlay different typefaces is quite large due to its metaphorical meaning as well as the actual common sight of new typography upon old. However, that seems like an application rather than a typeface or lettering per se.
Starting from last week’s thoughts on the architecture of type – the fact that so much of the typography in Los Angeles is not so much printed but part of a building or supported by its own structures. The other effect this has is that they can loom above the viewer or be almost distorted when viewed from an acute angle. I wanted to develop lettering that referenced the architectural nature of the typography, alluded to the crossbeams of the freeway signs and rooftop neon, and/or the neon lights and bulbs on the deco theatres along Broadway, the latter having become symbolic of both Downtown’s past and its recent renaissance.
Much to my chagrin, they looked maybe too much like the Mexico 68 identity, and Wallpaper’s Brazil edition as well, so I discarded the whole idea and started with something new, but I found myself revisiting it, and I convinced myself that lines themselves do not a similarity make.
It also bears remembering that this is supposed to be a typeface or lettering, not a logo
I see the metal structures in this, but the repetitive patterns also start to feel deco-ish, so I leaned into that and generated the below version, which starts to remind me of walking into deco-era cinemas under lit-up marquees.
I don’t love it.
Ultimately, the logic of a design is meaningless to the viewer who has an emotional reaction to it. Does this say, Los Angeles? Or is this the signage for a dodgy disco-inspired nightclub called Los Angeles.