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Appreciating the Beauty of Highway Signs

May 8, 2018

You’ve no doubt been guided by highway signs to get you where you want to go. The utility aspect of signs is the prevailing perception of why they exist. But how often do people stop and think about the artistic vision that went into the final product? Here’s a look at the more artistic side of highway signs, which is often overlooked by its obvious purpose as a utility.

How Signs Encompass Both Art and Utility

No one will debate that any sign on any building or road has a purpose to communicate a message. Most people assume the message is coming from an establishment such as a business, government agency or nonprofit organization. Signs even reinforce that image of authority. But the design of the sign can also have a significant impact in the following ways:

  • provide clear visibility from a distance
  • affect how quickly and easily the message is perceived
  • add personality and feeling to the text
  • provide further clarity with an image or symbol

Signs are often categorized closer to business than art due to the nature of how they are used, which may be to regulate a law or to promote a brand. It’s easy to think of art and business as opposites in our society, since that’s how it’s often betrayed by both investors and artists. There are perhaps more businesses that prioritize financial over aesthetic concerns than the other way around.

How Art Makes a Difference

It may be true of any product, but a sign and its marketing power are one in the same in the sense that a sign has an identity and communicates with society the same way the TV or radio does. As a one-way communication medium, the sign is one source that communicates to hundreds or thousands of people that respond by adjusting their driving behavior.

If you explore the history of signs and logos you’ll notice that over a century ago most advertising was not fancy and mainly relied on text that emphasized utility. There wasn’t much art to ads at all until the proliferation of big cities, big media and big profits. New York City was one of the first places in America to prove there was a commercial value to art, as an early model for modern sign-driven pop culture.

Even though highway signs are supposed to follow government regulations, they encompass art through imagery such as arrows. Different colors on interstate signs are standard, yet the colors still communicate aesthetics, making art and important part of the interaction process. So think about how the power of design can enhance a sign’s message.

From highway signs to custom business signs, Contact Zumar for your Free Quote.

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