Signs by Design

The average person is bombarded daily with signs — from designs on disposable coffee cups to images plastered on billboards along the highway and advertisements stretched across city buses. This sign overkill has led to sign neglect.

#Signlove is the new social media-based public art campaign launched by Jacksonville sign company Harbinger and Clearly Jacksonville, a volunteer community advisory committee to create sign awareness. The campaign encourages the public to upload images of signs, graphics or brands they encounter to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #signlove.

Steve Williams, president of Harbinger and principal of the Florida Mining Gallery, said the idea emerged from the desire to connect people with their surroundings and each other.

“We’re always trying to think of ways to get people to look at signs differently,” Williams said. “There’s been a lot of activity with people posting signs to social media and we just kind of wanted to formalize that in a curated exhibition.”

Images submitted by Instagram and Twitter users will be posted by Clearly Jacksonville and Harbinger on their social media sites and the Florida Mining blog through Oct. 28.

The campaign will officially end with an online gallery exhibition on the Florida Mining Gallery website, set to go live Nov. 15 and remain available through December. The online exhibit will feature a minimum of 24 images chosen by a jury from the #signlove entries. It has not yet been decided what criteria will be used. The chosen images will also be displayed on Clear Channel Outdoor’s digital billboards as part of the Highway Gallery, a citywide public art campaign.

“Our goal is to allow billboards, which are seen by millions each month, to serve as the canvas and gallery for local artists, amateur or professional, to display their work and reach the public,” Clearly Jacksonville board member Ennis Davis said.

Williams said he hopes the campaign will make people think of signs more positively and stray away from their “visual pollution” reputation.

Williams is interested in seeing more signs designed well, and follow standards set by groups such as the Society for Environmental Graphic Design. In Jacksonville, Williams said he’s proud of the signs displayed by the restaurant Black Sheep and Burro Bar, which are good examples of someone having an interest in design working with architecture.

“There are people who are concerned about positive, beautiful aesthetics of signs,” Williams said. “We want to encourage people to think about good design when they think about signs.”

There are already more than 900 images with the #signlove hashtag on Instagram.