Transmission of Formal Typography Into the Vernacular

Whether it is Windsong, Y Knot, Wildfire, or Wet Spot, a boat name has a story to tell. And, the typeface chosen for that boat name offers a window into culture, individual branding and vernacular typography. Historically, boat names were hand-lettered by sign painters or boat owners. Their individual flourishes and creative interpretation of a name lent uniqueness— although commonly the lettering was painted in traditional serif capital letters. When vinyl technology and then digital typography entered the trade it presented opportunities for self-customization and ease of application. This demanded that letterers adapt or be cut from the business, plus encouraged boat owners to become directly involved in the design process. As such, stylistically boat names are now more image-laden and typographic selections tend toward the popular or kitsch. Names are personal as well, often transmitting something specific about those aboard, including their profession, marital status or financial standing. In essence, modern boat names are a visual, and floating, calling card.

Keywords: typography, lettering, vernacular, sign painting, boats, customization, branding, visual culture.

Event Details

Date: 16 June, 2012
Time: 13:00–13:30

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