Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Damn Good Post about a Killer Sign with Some Killer Tacos

Whether it is the yummy aroma of Torchy’s killer fried avocado tacos or the bright comical sign painted on the side of a trailer, it is hard to drive down West 6th Street without noticing Torchy’s Tacos. With a line of customers backed up to the street, it is evident that combination of the great food and the friendly quirky sign, really work together in attracting curious, hungry customers.
Not only is it Torchy’s vibrantly colored and friendly sign that make it inevitable to not notice it when walking down sixth street, but it also has a lot to do with it’s location. It is found in a little trailer in between big restaurants and 6th street clubs. These places have chic, ritzy signs with very simplistic names. They are nothing like Torchy's, which looks, very local and fun with its outside bar and Bring Your Own Beer option.
I was sparked with curiosity to find out what makes a certain taco place boom with customers and I thought what better way to find out then to ask the customers themselves. When questioning some of these taco eaters, I discovered that the two most common characteristics taco fanatics look for in their taco places is: convenience and a friendly setting. A lot of these people crave tacos when they want to relax; the last thing they look for is an uptight fancy place. After gathering a list of some of the most popular taco venues, I looked at the signs of these places. They all inhabited close to the same characteristics of Torchy’s. They were all very quirky, friendly, and really out there in the setting in which they were located. Therefore, I knew when recreating Torchy’s sign these were characteristics I could not lose.
Torchy’s was trying to embrace their friendly character through the typography used in the sign. Although this typography has somewhat of a friendly character, it also has strange jagged edges thrown in with awkward letters such as the “S”. It looks as though the font was trying to mimic the characteristics and style of fire; unfortunately, this was not very successful. The type would have been better if they would have went ahead and left off the jagged edges all together or pushed the idea of “letters on fire” even further. When looking online at all of the marvelously fiery hot fonts that existed, I knew I wanted to find the perfect one for Torchy’s. In fact, there are tons and tons of different “fire” fonts. Blazed, Char BB, Firestarter, and Flame are examples of some of my favorites that I found when researching.

When redesigning this sign, I wanted capture the friendly aspect of Torchy’s, but also embrace a more Mexican feel, considering it is a Taco Bar. I decided to go with Char BB as the typography to portray the name “Torchy’s Tacos”. I thought this was a good choice because it embraces the quirky feel of a taco place being located in a little trailer in between several big nice restaurants and clubs, and the proportions of the letters gives it a more authentic feel. I also wanted to use the “Damn Good” on the sign to create a second voice, as if an after thought—something you just cannot keep in after trying one of Torchy’s Tacos. The tacos are so overwhelming with amazing flavor that it is impossible not to let everyone around know that that taco is “Damn good!” After trying “Damn Good” in several different fonts, I realized that the best font for the job was Stencil. I decided to portray it as a stamp- like a stamp of approval- over Torchy’s Tacos. This really was effective in creating that second voice I was looking for because it held a different character, a different attitude than the font chosen for the “Torchy’s Tacos” part of the sign.
It is wonderful to have one’s eyes opened up to see all of the amazing details and facts behind one small sign. It is now hard to look past any other sign and not wonder, “why it was designed that way? “ or “what is it’s history?” It is amazing thee things you can learn from literally one sign, for example the wonderful fire fonts that have been designed or what really attracts customers to hole in the wall taco shacks. The more and more one thinks about it the more one craves a killer fried taco.

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