Thursday, January 26, 2012

ESPO: Keeping the Love of Hand-done Typography Alive

Steve Powers (otherwise known as “ESPO: Exterior Surface Painting Outreach”), while not categorized as a typographer, works with typography in larger-than-life ways. He began creating art in the form of graffiti writing in the late 90s but became a studio artist in 2000. Since then he has created numerous works of sign art, murals, and other forms of public art. In his murals his typography is large, bold, and takes a life of its own. Many of his works seem to bridge gaps between typography, illustration, and public art,

A good read about Powers' transition from graffiti writer to mural artist can be found in this NY times article.

Powers has created murals and public art all around New York and he also has created a mural serise by the name of A Love Letter for You located right here in Philadelphia. The serise is meant to express the complexities and rewards of relationships. You can find more information about it and see photos of the murals on the official project website.
Take a ride down the tracks of the market street line around West Philadelphia and you will see many of these murals. 

These murals are meant to tell a story through typography and minimal image. If you take a closer look at some of them, you'll notice that some humorously relate to the businesses that they are painted on (such as the "I'll Shape Up" mural that was created on the side of a barber shop). Even without much image, they seem to convey a sense of love and comfort just through the typography.

There are many murals in Philadelphia that are much better-known, so these seem more like hidden jewels in our city. What do you think of this form of public art? How do you think they compare to the better well known and more historical murals found in Philadelphia? Do you believe that it's important to create public art or other forms of art that incorporate hand-done typography?

These murals are very impressive in person; I highly suggest you all take an afternoon to go out and see them. 

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