Small town gets 22-metre typographic treat

United Creatives and Jonathan Brown of Urbed collaborated on the project.

Manchester-based design agency United Creatives has created a stunning 22m-long typographic mural for the English Midlands town of Walsall that directs people to some of the town’s hidden gems.

Founder Chris Edmunds and his team worked in collaboration with urban designer Jonathan Brown of specialist sustainability firm Urbed on the artwork, which aims to engender civic pride via a series of positive local facts, while also providing additional wayfinding.

The design team avoided using too many contemporary typefaces

"The idea was to create something positive about Walsall and the town centre environment," says Edmunds. "We wanted to make people feel good about where they live and work. Some sections of the mural contain interesting facts about Walsall and others are directional, leading people to places of interest."

Choice of fonts

"The team avoided too many contemporary typefaces due to a lot of ugly, branded plastic signage around the mural," he continues. "Instead we looked at the way in which Victorians painted signs and, with this in mind, all the fonts we used have a vintage feel. They range from serifs such as LSC Condensed and Bodoni through to sans classics like Franklin and Gill. We also used one or two old-world fonts."

Initial research for the project was followed by the creation of draft illustrations and typography. The final designs were then laser-cut into Mylar sheets, allowing us to spray-paint accurate typography onto the concrete. The final piece was then sealed with a product called Graffiti Shield to lengthen its life.

Higher budget and more permanent murals are now on the way

And there are plans for more murals. "This low-budget hand-painted mural was something of a test to judge public confidence in the creative offer," says Edmunds.

"There are now plans to create a permanent and larger mural on the other side of the building early next year. We hope to build that using kiln-fired and printed ceramic tiles. These will be also UV-stable and so will last a lot longer than the painted mural because of that extra durability."

This showcase was originally published in Computer Arts issue 206.

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