Graphic designer and SCAD Atlanta motion media professor James Burns was walking through his Cabbagetown neighborhood one afternoon when he spotted a distinctive numeral tacked on a telephone pole. “It was a great looking ‘two,’ and seeing it made me think that it would be interesting to see if I find a full set of numbers while I was out walking,” he said. So he snapped a photo and then scouted numbers—storefronts, mailboxes, even trashcans—as he walked, and put together a complete set from zero to nine. When he got home, he created an animated gif of the number sequence. “It was interesting, watching the numbers flip through, somehow it felt like walking around the neighborhood,” he says. “A community’s personality can really be reflected in signs and typography.”
Thinking that a similar assignment would be interesting to give to his students, Burns tested the project himself, shooting the alphabet in sequence walking through Cabbagetown and Sweet Auburn. When he saw Atlanta magazine’s new series of neighborhood profiles (disclosure: He is married to deputy editor Rebecca Burns) he contacted the series editor, Mary Logan Bikoff, and pitched animated alphabets to accompany the articles. She liked the idea, and asked him to start with the May profile of Reynoldstown.
To capture Reynoldstown in type, Burns walked six miles up and down its streets, spotting letters on everything from a church sign and graffiti to a steel plant and the WonderRoot community arts center. You can find the location of each letter on the map below.
The Project in Poster Form
Burns put together a poster of the Reynoldstown alphabet. You can enter a drawing to win a signed print of the poster. Click here for details