Austin, Texas is a great city. Austin is lively, youthful, diverse, naturally scenic, and relatively small. I’ve lived here for 18 years and I plan to have kids that grow up here. As I travel around town, I often find myself critiquing the design of road signs, billboards, storefront signage and business logos, local restaurant menus and interior design, church logos and marquees, and the list goes on.
This blog is dedicated to design in Austin – the good and the bad, the great and the terrible. Our first stop is South Congress – a historic, hippie, and ultra-local atmosphere with a dash of retro-modern design. I photographed every storefront sign between Riverside and Live Oak, and picked my top ten favorites out of around 100 photographed signs.
Click here for the honorable mentions. I’d love to read your comments at the bottom of the page!
10 | Fran’s Hamburgers
Fran’s actual sign is pretty ugly and unoriginal, but I have to give it to the marketing department for coming up with the red-headed beauty up top. Santa, I’d like a Fran bobble-head for Christmas.
9 | Snack Bar
This sign has a slight retro look, I like the colors, and the design is decent. The oval behind the text looks like something a global tech company would have in there logo. I’m not sure what it represents, but it looks pretty nice at night. Are the “K” and “B” a bit too close together?
8 | Amy’s Ice Cream
I’m not crazy about the color choice or the font for “ice creams”, but the overall the sign is great. I like how “amy’s” is hovering in front, and the retro shape is a nice addition to the south congress location. While I waited here for a small mexican vanilla ice cream, I had to hold myself back from jumping into the trailer through the small window. The A/C felt amazing while I was roasting just outside of this trailer paradise.
7 | Monkey See, Monkey Do!
This is a clever sign for a store full of clever items. I love the name, and I love the monkey. Something else I want for Christmas – one of those monkeys that beat cymbals together. I wonder if they sell them here?
6 | Hotel San Jose
This modern logo gets overtaken by the wall of vines in the summer, but funny enough, so does the entire hotel. This trendy urban getaway in the heart of South Congress makes it’s presence known with beautiful landscaping and modern design aesthetics. The logo is nice – not great – but it’s placement on the vine-covered wall makes it noteworthy South Congress signage.
5 | The Continental Club
The Continental Club boasts the reputation of being one of Austin’s premier music clubs since 1957. This sign is simple but classy. Two simple shapes and the contrast of sans-serif all-caps font with a retro-style script font gives it a timeless and classy look. Did you notice that the middle shape is a door? The doorknob is above the “B” in “CLUB”.
4 | Uncommon Objects
This sign design’s contrast of modern with “weird” is what ranks it high on my list. It even seems like the windows of the building and lines of brick are part of this logo. Does anyone know why a man is riding an overgrown rabbit? Is he about to lasso another mutant bunny?
3 | Yard Dog
This funky sign is one of my favorites because the design is very cohesive. The fence is great, and the dots inside the letters make me think of a dog collar. I with the letter spacing of “YARD” and “DOG” was the same, though.
2 | Wet
This logo would look great in print. I don’t have much to say about the sign because there’s not much to it, but it is a very nice logo.
1 | The Mighty Cone
This is my favorite. The Mighty Cone sign has a very retro look, in the typography and design of the cone graphic. I usually don’t like primary colors and gradients in logos, but all of these elements so logically fit together. I wonder what a mighty cone tastes like?