Vacancy Motels postcard illustrations

  • This project is to illustrate some of the last vintage (1940s-70s) motel and motor lodge signs scattered throughout the southwestern U.S. Though many old motel signs exist across the country, I restricted myself to only those that I’ve personally photographed.
    This project began as an illustration exercise. Originally inspired by the great Aaron Draplin's rant, Why America is F*cked, I began photographing vintage motel signs while on a short trip to Colorado. I decided to start illustrating the signs and strip all elements (buildings, trees, cars, etc) from the composition so that the primary focus would be only on the sign. An additional consideration I made was regarding the disrepair and general aged appearance of many of the signs I encountered. Rather than illustrate them exactly as they are, I decided to show them in perfect working order – all light bulbs and neon intact and with a fresh coat of paint. Other than those considerations, I illustrated the signs exactly as they are – even with the  occasional design flaws (bad kerning, quirky placements of neon elements, etc). Finally, I decided that the most appropriate way to display these illustrations was through a set of postcards packaged and branded with the Vacancy Motels name and logo.
  • This poor guy was so beat and rusted up that I could barely make out some of the lettering. The "No Vacancy" hanging portion is now gone on the real sign but when looking at some older photos I noticed it and decided to include it in the illustration.
  • Bad kerning, cheeseball type, I included all the quirks and flaws in the illustrations.
  • Along with the standard postcard layout so that it's functional, I've included the name and address of the motel/hotel/motor lodge that the illustrated sign represents. Some of the signs belonged to businesses that have been closed quite a while, so I uncluded that info as well.
  • I thought it'd be neat to package the postcard illustrations in a basic, slightly vintage-styled cardboard box. For some limited-edition packaging, I want to wire 3mm LEDs and a short string of electroluminescent wire on the main logo to simulate light bulbs and neon. This will be powered by a 3-volt watch battery and turned on with a small switch inside the box.
  • Lots more signs I've photographed that need to be illustrated!