Chips off the Old Block

Even if you don’t have an eye for type, if you are an urban dweller or visitor, it is difficult not to find letter forms everywhere and in everything – especially on blocks all over New York. That was the rationale behind Joanne Dugan’s two books ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City and 123 NYC: A Counting Book of New York City (Harry N. Abrams), and the impetus for The Alphabet City, a set of stick-on found city letters.

It began as a teaching game for Dugan’s two-year-old son named Hugo. “After the books were published,  I continually heard from people who wanted a way to use the letterforms as wall art,” she told me. “I wanted to do something accessible, affordable and simple, so came up with the idea of doing movable pieces that were inspired by the graffiti and sticker art I have loved so much over the years.”

The images of The Alphabet City were curated from a vast collective of urban typographic photography, shot for more than a decade in New York City’s five boroughs. Many of the images came from handmade signs and markings on now-demolished vintage landmarks and so are a unique archive of NYC’s visual history.

“It’s a simple project designed not to change the world as we know it,” adds Dugan, “but instead to let people have play with and make words from found typography. The project was launched a month ago and the response to it so far has been fantastic from the design, home decor and educational communities.” See the website here.

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