An Interview with the Society for Commercial Archeology

Sea Shell Motel Sign
Sea Shell Motel Sign, Wildwood, New Jersey

A few days ago we posted my interview with Danielle Kelly from The Neon Museum in Las Vegas. During the interview she mentioned that I must reach out to the Society for Commercial Archeology. She said if you love the older, lesser know signs and buildings of America’s roadsides and are interested in helping preserve them, those are the guys to talk to. So I did just that and they didn’t disappoint.

When I spoke to Ralph Wilcox, the Society for Commercial Archeology’s secretary, I envisioned this Indiana Jones-esque group of individuals combing through dilapidated commercial buildings in search of relics from the past. OK, so I over romanticized a little bit, but in truth the SCA is the largest national organization devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape. (more…)

Navigating America: How Traffic Signs Help Us Find our Way

Traffic Signs Utah
Courtesy: CountyLemonade/Wikimedia Commons

Millions of Americans spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel each year. In fact, 8.1 percent of U.S. workers who worked outside of the home had at least an hour-long commute in 2011, according to U.S. Census numbers.

Even though biking and walking are popular alternative forms of transportation for some, our vehicles are still the go-to method for getting around town. Get in, sit down, buckle in and fire up your smart phone’s navigation to figure out how to get to your office on the first day of your new job. Technology can definitely help us find our way on the road, but those green and white signs above the freeway are about as certain as death and taxes. Have you ever wondered who designed those, and why each traffic sign tends to look the same no matter where you go in the country? (more…)

Updated: Interview With Bryan McCormick of Vegas Vernacular

Galaxy Building

Update: 4/22/2013: While I was attending the 2013 International Sign Association’s Sign Expo in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with Bryan over lunch to discuss the latest happenings with the Vegas Vernacular. It had been about 6 months since our first interview and I wanted to get an update on the organization, what they are currently working on and what’s next……oh and to get my print of the Desert Moon Motel I ordered!

Although I loved meeting Bryan at the art exhibit back in September of 2012, this time around was even better. We went to an incredible little place to eat, called EAT, in old downtown and just talked signage. It was the first time I had ever just walked around that area and it really gave me an appreciation for what Bryan and his team are trying to document. Once you get away from the Strip, you realize that a whole other world exists. Just walking and driving down Freemont Street – away from the tourist traps – you quickly realize what Vegas was truly about. It’s not about the massive Casinos. It’s about the hundreds of family owned motels and businesses that lined the streets. Each one with a unique story. Each one on the verge of disappearing.

Although they have accumulated around 50,000 images, there is still more to be done. Much of their current projects are based on immediate necessity. Not only are the smaller motels and building being closed down, they are being torn down. Bryan said that just knowing what properties are next is difficult. Then trying to get in to photograph them can be an even bigger challenge.

But, aside from the constant need to document the signs, Bryan and his team are right in the middle of creating a platform to catalog and display the images. The best part of the platform, they want to make it available to other organizations, in other cities, to allow them to accomplish the same goal as the Vegas Vernacular. A national platform for all to use as inspiration and education. They have also spent some time trying to track down the artists, like “King” Richard Harris, who actually created the hand painted signage. Their personal stories are as much a part of the dialogue as the signs they created!

For the most part, things continue at breakneck speed for the Vegas Vernacular and the ever changing landscape of Las Vegas sure keeps Bryan on his toes. Let’s just hope he is quick enough to document it before it’s gone! (more…)

8 Design Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making


Since I began writing the blog for a year ago, I can’t seem to get away from signage. It’s everywhere: along the freeway, on the parkstrip in front of shopping centers, even inside public restrooms. I see good signage. I see signage that is so-so. But I also see some pretty bad signage. Most of the problems that I see with truly bad signage could be easily fixed, if only the person who designed the sign knew what design mistakes to avoid.


Ten Most Popular Vinyl Lettering Wall Quotes


At, we print a lot of customized wall decals. Some of these are fairly large decals that people use to decorate their home or office, while others are small and simple, like wall lettering.

One of the more recent trends taking American homes by storm is printing and displaying quotes, usually motivational and uplifting quotes on several walls throughout a home. We’ve seen some pretty awesome quotes over the years and in all sorts of places… yes, even the bathroom, and wanted to put together a post on the ten most popular wall quotes.

If you like any of these quotes or have another you’d like to get printed for your home, you can build it in our custom design tool.

1. Chase Your Dreams

2. IN THIS HOME We do sharing. We do LAUGHTER. We do MISTAKES. We do real. Sometimes we do silly. We do our best. We do FUN. We do grace. We do I’m sorrys. We do LOUD really well.We do HUGS. We do family. We do AWESOME. WE DO LOVE

3. You’ve got what it takes, but it will take EVERYTHING you’ve got

4. Take your elbows off the table. Sit up straight; don’t slouch. Eat your vegetables. Use your knife. Wife your mouth. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Don’t slurp your soup. Ask politely and say please. Don’t chew with your mouth open. If you’ve finished, excuse yourself. Don’t chomp your food. Don’t eat with your fingers. Talk quietly. Be thankful and just eat your dinner

5. The KITCHEN is the heart of the home

6. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world

7. Pray as though everything depends on God. Work as though everything depends on you

8. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great

9. Home is where the heart is

10. Dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth

Which of these are your favorite? Or is there another quote that should have made our list? If so, please share in the comments section below.

How-To: Installing a Perforated Car Window Decal

Installing a Perforated Car Window Decal

Some signs are easier to install than others. For example, hanging a banner doesn’t take that much thought or effort, but installing a perforated car window decal to a vehicle…well, that takes a little more planning. To help you out, we’ve created a brief video to show you the best way to install your new car decal so it comes out perfect every time. Also, here are a couple tricks that will come in handy: (more…)

Is Your Sign Vintage or Just Old? 5 Ways to Tell


Retail Insights with Harper Grey

Oooh I just love vintage stuff. Maybe I’m just a sucker for nostalgia, but I love everything about vintage (real or just copycat). Shows like Mad Men have many of us wishing for the “good old days.” Not that they were really that great. I mean really, do we want to go back to the time period when everyone smoked a pack a day and women were expected to land a good husband and quit her secretarial job so they could move to the suburbs, have babies and rely financially on men? But you have to admit, some of those vintage signs were pretty darn awesome. (more…)