I typically take this opportunity to
ramble on tearily reminisce over the hand illustrated aesthetic of vintage track maps that seems to be lost in the modern era. After all, it’s easier to output a quick render or line art from the track designer’s plans and call it done. Rarely would we think today of commissioning an artist to illustrate a custom map for an event program.
Today, though, I want to focus on something else happening in this image scanned from a Paramount Ranch program. A recent design movement has made me think that all may not be lost; and it’s the wonderful handwritten lettering on this map that helped me notice it. In the past couple of years there has been an enormous resurgence in hand lettering throughout all levels of design.
Why in the age of digital typesetting, when even the most amateur computer user has dozens of fonts at their fingertips, would the professional hand letterer be back in demand? Because it has soul. There’s something behind that ever-so-slightly-wiggly hand lettered headline that hints at a humanity and a playfulness that you just don’t get from perfectly set Helvetica Neue Light. Why couldn’t it also be so for hand drafters or illustrators? This map has soul.
We’ve seen maps from Paramount Ranch before and my sentiment remains exactly the same… Just look at that tunnel.