EL PASO – A graphic designer aspires to become master of the design and appearance of letters and words through study and craft. Kerning, leading, ascender, and descender –these are all words that are burned in to a graphic designer’s mind.
We obsess over things like kerning, leading, and rivers, things that mean nothing to the public but make all the difference in a word’s ability to get your attention. But here, on the borderland, some become masters of hand lettering design by tradition.
El Paso has a rich tradition of hand lettering. Every local bakery or neighborhood store is covered in hand painted words declaring their Mexican authenticity.
The level of craftsmanship and care giving to these graphic elements is enough to make any professional designer jealous. Of course it goes without saying that there are some really bad designs in the city, but enough beautiful ones too like of those painted by hand straight onto the stucco that start to chip as the years go by. There is something beautiful about that.
There is nowhere you can go in our city that you don’t see them, yet we hardly ever notice them. And to be honest, I never paid much attention to them either, until I became a graphic designer.