A year ago, Eric Avner of Cincinnati’s Haile Foundation challenged American Sign Museum founder and curator, Tod Swormstedt, to design a project that would (1) help local businesses, (2) enhance the built environment within Cincinnati, and (3) increase local visibility of the soon-to-open-in-its-new-home American Sign Museum.
Tod was ready: “I have this bias that artists who design signs may do beautiful work, and business owners may understand the importance of a good sign, but neither necessarily understand what makes for a good sign. Unless they factor in the engineering, purpose, and visual considerations necessary for installing and maintaining a sign and for informing and enticing potential customers, the most beautiful sign in the world won’t get the job done. My goal was to create a project that would educate business owners and artists and produce tangible results in the form of new signage for local business districts. It’s not only my personal passion, but the mission of the American Sign Museum. Imagine my delight when Eric agreed with the idea!”
That idea was submitted to ArtPlace in the hopes of receiving grant money for three Cincinnati neighborhoods. When the response came back to “try again next year,” Avner and the Haile Foundation stepped up and funded a pilot project for one neighborhood: Northside. The plan:
- invite local businesses, artists and fabricators to participate in ‘Good Signage 101’ workshops
- have the artists submit designs
- select 10 businesses who would choose their winning design
- have fabricators install the signs
- unveil the signs on Black Friday as part of a shop local event
Simple, right? All that was needed was a marketing and communications plan, support of the Northside business community, support of the Cincinnati zoning commission, specifications that would allow for fast tracking permits, content for the workshops, caterers etc. for the collaborative meetings, and more. Oh, and simultaneously manage similar details for the grand opening and beyond of the American Sign Museum’s new home!
Long story short – it worked! At 0-dark-thirty the morning of Black Friday, the unveiling of not ten, but eleven, new signs now gracing the Northside business district began, bringing onlookers, street performers – and customers! – to the community for a celebration of local talent and cooperation.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible. We are proud to have been part of such a valuable and well-executed project. We look forward to many more such collaborations in the community. In the meantime, enjoy some images of CoSign 2012. Click on VisuaLinqual’s post to see each sign and the artist and fabricator who created it.