Signs of the Seaside: Coastal Lettering and Typography

Original artefacts and contemporary work explore the typographic vernacular of the English seaside.

Pieces on display in a graphic design and art exhibition.
A hand-painted sign by Dr Amy Goodwin created for the Signs of the Seaside exhibition (left) alongside vintage travel posters and an original painted and gilded ‘pleasure’ panel.

English seaside resorts have a rich and diverse heritage when it comes to lettering and typography. In Issue 03 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine), designer and researcher Justin Burns (@jburnsdesign) explores one noteworthy aspect of this: the Tuscan letter.

Justin has been researching the typographic vernacular of English seaside resorts for his PhD, and recently curated an exhibition, Signs of the Seaside, at the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft in Sussex, UK.

For those unable to travel, here is a look at some of the work on show, which spans the disciplines of graphic design, typography, sign painting, illustration, and photography. These sit alongside a host of original artefacts, including hand-painted signs, bill posters, books, and type specimens.

For even more from Justin, check out his Signs of the Seaside talk at BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

Signs of the Seaside

All photography: Emma Croman / @emmacroman

An exhibition space with a capital R illuminated by white bulbs on the inside and a red neon outline.
The exhibition space and, in the foreground, the 1.5 m (5 ft) letter ‘R’, which once graced the entrance to Brighton Pier, and has been renovated and reimagined for the exhibition by neon artist Andy Doig (@andydoigneon).
One of the centrepieces of the exhibition is this 'Seaside Promenade Worship' commission painted by Dr Amy Goodwin (@amy.goodwin.signwriter). To the left is coastal photography by Rob Ball (@rob.ball).