Takoma Park Gateway Signscommission from the City of Takoma Park, 2010by James Colwell and Alison Baker
Takoma Park Gateway Signs is a public art project of the City of Takoma Park, Maryland. From Sara Daines, Director of Housing and Community Development: “Known for its staunch support of the arts and humanities, the Takoma Park City Council approved funding for the project, viewing it as a ‘way to celebrate through art’ the community’s rich history and cultural diversity. Jim Colwell and Alison Baker’s vintage sign proposal was selected for its quirkiness and ability to convey the uniqueness that is Takoma Park. We hope you enjoy the project and the opportunity to discover more of our community.”
The artists’ process: In May, 2010, the City of Takoma Park commissioned us to create 30 art panels for installation on gateway signs throughout the city. We proposed to create vintage crate labels, custom designed to highlight elements of the city. We felt that crate labels would be an effective theme for the long, rectangular format of the signs, and bright colors would would create impact. The graphics would reflect our community’s 100+ year old history and independent character.
The panels were to fit underneath gateway and informational signs located around the town.
We cut thirty boards to fit the sign spaces, then sealed them with a marine grade epoxy to protect them from outdoor elements. We hunted for fonts, and created some lettering of our own, that would match the vintage sense of our project.
Hundreds of vintage logos were researched to create the Takoma Park crate label designs.
When the sketches were finished, colors were roughed in, working first on the background.
Letting each coat dry thoroughly, we applied three to four layers of oil paint to the panels, slowly building the images with each coat.
The last step was sealing all signs with two coats of varnish.
During the month of March, 2011, the complete series of panels were on display at the Historic Takoma building on Carroll Avenue.
The panels were finished and ready to be installed at the first sign of spring! Jim Colwell and Alison Baker