The Larkin Trail: United Creatives

Show: The Larkin Trail, outdoor signage. United Creatives.

Tell: “United Creatives won an Arts Council/Arts Jobs national competition to design and manufacture bespoke signage to mark sites relevant to the life and work of Philip Larkin, in around Hull and East Riding. Taking inspiration from one of Larkin’s poems we focussed on the stanza ‘Brightening up the saddest heart’ and set out to create a unique and versatile approach to signage design.

“Touring the city with staff from Groundwork, the environmental regeneration charity, and Hull City Council’s conservation officer Philip Hampel, we were inspired by the old Victorian signs that are still seen in Hull’s High Street. They’re a testament to the hand painted craft of yesteryear and perhaps a down-turned thumb to the mass of cheap plastic and ubiquitous signage that can be seen on many UK high streets today.

“One of the big problems to overcome was that many of the buildings in Hull are listed and that we did not wish to use any invasive techniques for the trail signage. No drill holes, no plastics, no naff lighting. We wanted to create a series of signs that were at once crafted and robust but that also respected the buildings they were to adorn. The issue was resolved by our decision to focus on traditional hand painted signage. We spent several months testing various mircoporous paints, laser-cut Mylar stencils and sealers to ensure our chosen materials, once finished, would be both aesthetically pleasing and long lasting.

“The result is a complete set of 25 type-led geocoded signs, commemorating the life and works of poet, novelist, librarian and jazz critic. Each has either been hand painted directly onto carefully selected surfaces or fabricated from vitreous enamel and installed with a hidden internal bolting system to prevent theft and vandalism.

“Our practice has developed as a direct result of the amount of time invested in researching suitable materials, testing various paints, stencil types and application methods. Our research into this craft-inspired outcome will allow us to respond to future briefs quickly and with improved confidence. We’ll be well placed to offer clients greater economies in terms of their project spend, since less studio time will be required to arrive at a workable solution.”

Words: Chris Edmunds, Creative Director, United Creatives Ltd.

Info: Manchester Graphic Design agency, United Creatives, has made artwork for The Larkin Trail available for purchase at, either as separate limited edition giclée prints, or within a complete set of 25 postcards. All postcard souvenir orders are dispatched hand wrapped in screenprinted Manila paper, finished with a traditional rubber stamp and parcel string.

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The Larkin Trail: United Creatives was posted on May 18th, 2011 at 8.03pm and is filed under Show and Tell. This entry has no comments (yet). You can follow any responses through the RSS 2.0 Feed.

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