Signs of the times, Durango Herald, Nov. 11, 2007

Images, clockwise from top left: Gardenswartz’s hand-carved wooden sign has been hanging in this location since before Richard Ellis purchased the outdoor company. Yaseen Design Studio created the sign for Seasons by using the restaurant logo fabricated out of metals. Seasons also uses a Gobo stage light to project its logo onto the sidewalk. Popoli owner Christine Connor collaborated with Terry Spriggs at Mountain Graphics to create a sign that was organic and recognizable while remaining a bit unclear, like the store itself, which promotes inspired living. Crystal beads fall from Beads & Beyonds’ projecting sign with rainbow lettering. A stained-glass sign created by store owner Ashley Dove’s mother hangs in the store window. Denton Signs helped create the brand for eclectic store No Place Like Home using diamond plate and vivid red lettering that reflects the Asian flare of the store.

It’s not always easy for a business owner to get a sign design approved by the city of Durango. So, many resort to creating copycat signs that have already been approved.

Yet some Durango businesses have taken sign design to the next level. They have created not only a way-finding tool, but a marketing piece that reflects their purpose. Some might even call them works of art.

Two signs that are elegant and creative are the multi-dimensional-formed and forged-metal signs created by Yaseen Design Studio for Oohs & Aahs and Seasons Restaurant. Oohs & Aahs features thick dimensional serif lettering and a simple swirl of bent copper patina. The sign is large and stretches across the building fa`E7ade. The Seasons sign is a projecting one that features copper oak leaves and what looks like brass lettering standing out from the base.

Yaseen Design has created award-winning signs for Durango and beyond. This traditional shop blends state-of-the-art technology with traditional sign-making methods and exquisite craftsmanship. Other signs bearing Yaseen’s signature include: Le Rendezvous, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, The Palace, The Bottom Drawer, Wells Group and Schluter Floral.

Seasons adds another intriguing element to its sign marketing. Not only does its sign reflect its logo, but Karen Barger, owner and manager of the restaurant, has added a Gobo stage light that projects the business name onto the sidewalk. It’s a showstopper.

Some businesses have taken a homemade approach and kept the sign making in the family. At Rocky Mountain Children’s Company, owner Joanna Tucker d esigned and made her stained-glass sign at home at night after her daughter fell asleep. She wanted something three-dimensional, so the sun pops out of her otherwise flat sign.

“The Planning Commission actually said they wanted unique signs to improve the character of the city,” Tucker said. “It was definitely a task to meet all their requirements.”

Tucker admits that the sign takes a beating from the Durango weather and that it’s not the most user-friendly, but it is fun and has character.

“I thought I would save money, but I didn’t,” she said. She hired Nibroc Fabrication to make the frame and post for the projecting sign.

Another stained-glass project is the Beads & Beyond signs that hang in the window of the Main Avenue store and above the door. Owner Ashley Dove’s mother made them. The projecting sign features crystal beads an d rainbow lettering, reflecting the store’s interior.

A more industrial-looking sign can be found at There’s No Place Like Home and was created at Denton Signs. Denton created the logo for the store, and welder Ron Andrews helped fabricate the diamond plate and metal sign with vivid red lettering. The sign stands out and has an Asian feel, much like the eclectic store it represents.

Graphic designer and sign maker Terry Spriggs with Mountain Graphics created the sign at Popoli. Spriggs collaborated with owner Christine Connor to create the company logo based on an organic zebra print and multi-colored dots.

“The dot is the shape that helps retailers sell the most,” Connor said.

The logo is intentionally designed to be recognizable, yet a bit unclear. The store is all about inspired modern living and the pop-out dots on the sign are create with pull knobs found at any hardware store.

Possibly the most recognizable sign is the large, hand-carved, wooden Gardenswartz sign that hangs above the west side of Main. According to store owner Richard Ellis, the sign has been there as long as he has owned the business, but he knew little about its history.

Sign making is a creative endeavor that meshes design, advertising, sales and art. Craft workers created them often by hand-tooling elements or forging metal and carving wood. It’s more than just a nameplate.

Have a favorite sign? Tell us about it and why you think it’s handsome or fun or unique. Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.

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