Design is pretty advanced in the US. It’s hard to imagine that fifty years ago, brush scripts and cheesy Norman Rockwell-esque illustrations were the rage. Typefaces looped and swooped in an effort to make you feel warm fuzzies about the products they pushed.

But think of the fonts we see today in the logos of the largest companies in the US: Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, General Motors, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. They’re all the same style – clean, professional, and, well… cold.

Photo logos

I never expected a typographic time machine when we hopped on a Diablo Rojo to check out the main bus terminal here in Panama City, but that’s exactly what we got.

Cruising through Calidonia, we couldn’t help but marvel at the hand-painted scripts and western-style faces that decorated shop after shop. Brightly-colored kiosks lined the streets advertising phone and shoe repair in fonts you might expect from a House/Poppl (type designers) lovechild.

So today I wandered down Via Central and up Avenida Peru to capture some of the things we saw.

One quick mention before the photos… yet another example of how awesome the people of Panama are. North of Via Central isn’t a great neighborhood, and when something caught my eye and I ventured that way, I had six people warn me to turn around before I’d gone one block.

Not just bystanders, but people who lived there! I’ve never had so many strangers concerned for my well-being before.

Anyway, hope there are others out there who appreciate typography porn. :) Let’s start with our favorite…


Click to see the larger size.




































Have you found some interesting type or design away from home? I’d love to hear about it.

Stay tuned for the typography of Japan in March!

ps. If you like type, check out the excellent Ace Jet 170.