Digging Up Graveyards

Inspiration is out there; all you have to do is look.
The Sign Post Forest at Watson Lake, YT, Canada

Designers can fall into a rut looking for the next big thing, an emerging trend or font du jour. While it’s important to stay current, aping a popular look isn’t very authentic or rewarding.

Looking back for inspiration from vintage signs and bygone eras can also be valuable, but is fraught with similar pitfalls. The world needs fewer stale, derivative designs.

So why not jump off the grid and seek inspiration in other places? The Neon Boneyard Park in Las Vegas should be on every sign designer’s bucket list, but it pays to dig even deeper. Every town has offbeat spots and forgotten “graveyards” that can inspire your work and recharge your creative energy in ways you could never predict. Signposts in the Canadian Northwest, discarded fiberglass molds in Wisconsin and crumbling gargoyles in New York are just three examples. Get digging!

Home Alone

The Sign Post Forest encourages visitors to add their own signs.
The Sign Post Forest encourages visitors to add their own signs.

The Sign Post Forest at Watson Lake, YT, Canada, just might be the most popular attraction along the Alaskan Highway. It was started by Private Carl K. Lindley, a homesick GI, in 1942. These days visitors are encouraged to add their own signs to the over 80,000 already present.

Animal Planted

FAST Fiberglass headquarters is home to hundreds of fiberglass-statue-molds.
FAST Fiberglass headquarters is home to hundreds of fiberglass-statue-molds.

The fiberglass-statue-mold graveyard at the FAST Fiberglass headquarters in Sparta, WI is home to molds from over 600 previous jobs. FAST (Fiberglass Animals, Shapes, and Trademarks) welcomes curious visitors, but recommends calling ahead before a visit.

Rest in Pieces

The original “grotesques” from the City College of New York.
The original “grotesques” from the City College of New York.

For many decades, the City College of New York has replaced their crumbling, gothic-styled gargoyles (technically “grotesques” because they have no water spout). The broken originals were retired to the lawn in view of the school of architecture. There are no official tours, but visitors can explore the area and take photos.

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