A City’s Decaying Signage Becomes a Series of Stunning, Hand-drawn Typefaces

This article was originally published on AIGA’s Eye on Design blog.

Four years ago graphic designer Richard Heap went on a backpacking trip from his hometown of London to Guatemala City, where he met “a certain wonderful lady,” landed a job as the in-house designer at architectural firm Studio Domus, and put down roots in Zone 1, the city’s oldest and arguably most dangerous neighborhood. It also happens to be one of the best places in Central America to spot spectacular old, signs.


If it wasn’t for Heap, these signs might have also remained one of the city’s best-kept (and most under-valued) secrets. Thankfully, he’s turned his neighborhood walks into typographic hunting trips, dutifully photographing each sign in its natural environment—and then turning them into remarkably modern-looking fonts.

Heap recently released a new series of Zone 1 typography, and since it might just be his last (he and his new wife are getting ready to move back to the UK), we pinned him down to learn more about the type he found and how he lent new life to the city’s crumbling signs.