Bodega Sans Font as used at Kmart Store

It was at a local Kmart that the distinctive typestyle they were using for their aisle markers and other signage around the store caught my eye.   It was beautiful.  I had to find the name of it!  But I found it was only at THAT Kmart- others in the area didn’t use it.

I’ve tried several times since that initial sighting to find the name of the font.  I’d go to various font sites and type in different combinations of condensed, sans-serif, deco, vintage, narrow, compressed, etc. but to no avail.  Recently I tried something different.  I went to Google Images and typed in kmart interior, kmart signage, kmart aisle marker

kmart-font sample

Font in all caps used above the doors at a K-Mart store

Finally, I found a picture of the front of a K-Mart in another state with the words, “GROCERY & FRESH MARKET” above the doors.  This was the font I had been searching for!

I found the name of the font family is Bodega Sans and was designed by Greg Thompson in 1990. It’s available in several different weights.  You might want to consider using it for your next project.  Here are examples:


Bodega Sans font - samples in different weights

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Removing old vinyl lettering adhesive

Removing old vinyl lettering can be a challenge but here are a few tips. Begin by softening the area you’re working on with the aid of a heat gun, being careful not to apply too much heat or for too long. An X Acto knife with a flat #17 blade, or the wider #18, helps. Don’t push down with the blade or you may scratch the substrate. Just gently ease the tip of the blade under an edge of the old lettering and lift.

But once the lettering is removed, you’re only half done. Next comes what can be the messy task of removing the old adhesive. There are several adhesive removers on the market, but if you’ve used some of them, you’ve likely found out that many just make a big sticky mess.

Mineral Spirits and Isopropyl Alcohol

Mineral Spirits and Isopropyl Alcohol

So here’s my formula for an adhesive remover that really works. In a small container that you’ve labeled as such, mix a small amount in a 50-50 solution of mineral spirits and isopropyl alcohol. With a rag, lightly dampen the old adhesive and give it about 30 seconds to soak in. Then with a dry rag, simply erase the old adhesive. This may take a couple of repeats to get it all. The mineral spirits loosens the adhesive and the isopropyl alcohol keeps it from being a snotty mess.

Once you’ve got it all cleaned off, wipe the area with just the isopropyl alcohol to remove any traces of the mineral spirits.


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Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective at the National Gallery

Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective runs at the National Gallery in Washington DC  from October 14, 2012 – January 13, 2013. A nice slide show of the exhibition can be found on the New York Times website and is highly recommended.


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Vinyl Pop Art

Atomic Bomb Ring radio premium pop art

Atomic Bomb Ring radio premium pop art

Lately I’ve been experimenting with creating pop art à la Roy Lichtenstein using cut vinyl. This depicts a 1947 radio premium, the Kix Atomic Bomb Ring,  and is done on 18″ x 24″ x 3mm Sintra substrate.

The gradients dot pattern in the background were from a previous artistic experimentation session. They were created a row at a time- from very small, where they were barely discernible, up to the point where they completely merged with each other.

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The Ampersand (&) as a Graphic Element

Ampersand by Samuel Welo - 1927

Decorative ampersand by Samuel Welo - 1927

Although the ampersand has been around since the First Century AD, it really wasn’t used as an independent graphic element until creative signwriters began working it into their designs in the early part of the 20th Century.  They were no doubt influenced by the Art Nouveau  and later Art Deco movements of the time.

Vintage 'and' from an 1890's typography catalog

Vintage 'and' from an 1890's typography catalog

The typography of that era, for the most part, gave no special treatment to the ampersand, however you could often find the complete word and done rather ornately in printed brochures.  Many hand-lettered signs from around the turn of the century would also make use an ornate and.

Ampersand examples: between, beside and behind

Ampersand examples: between, beside and behind

An ampersand, when used as an independent graphic element in a sign layout, can be a totally different size, color or weight that the surrounding copy.  The ampersand can be placed between, on top,
underneath or alongside the relative copy as long as it reads correctly.  Try different combinations to see what looks best.

Be sure and check out the ampersand category in our symbols and graphics section.  Many are vintage and unique from old hand-lettered sources. If you’ve found a decorative ampersand you’d like to see added, please let us know.

By the way, although you see it done regularly,  it’s not considered good writing practice to use the ampersand in place of and in normal text.

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