Freeway blogging: How to make nicely lettered signs in under 6 minutes

This is  continuation of my small series on the Art and Practice of Freeway Blogging. The first post is here:

How to be a Freeway Blogger

In it I presented an nice short video of the original Freeway Blogger going about his work, and added some tips on how to do the work easily and effectively. Please do click if this interest you (it certainly does me).

This post contains another short video, again by the original Freeway Blogger, showing a single technique — how to get signs to look so nicely lettered. Watch:

I have it on good authority (the Freeway Blogger’s) that nice lettering really improves the effect. Again, you can make a nicely lettered sign in under 6 minutes, and you can make many of them at once. In fact, depending on your state of mind — altered, unaltered, relaxed, fully relaxed — you could have some fun just making signs. You could even do it with your friends.

What’s the process?

The machine at the start of the video is an “overhead projector” — a pretty simple mechanism. They look like this (click to see). You lay the thing you want to project onto the flat surface and turn on the light. The light shines up through the paper or slide or whatever, hits the mirror at the top, and ends up displayed — at a much larger size — onto whatever you project it against.

While transparent paper-sized sheets are made just for this purpose — and they can be sent through printers — I don’t think you need anything but plain paper. (Update: Maybe I’m wrong about plain paper. See this comment below.)

As near as I can tell, the process is this:

  1. Think up a nice slogan. Catchy is good. Steal if you want to.
  2. Go into any computer program like Word or even Notepad and make your sign. Change the page orientation to “‘landscape” — wider than it is tall — and just use big fonts. Any simple font will do. Times is nice. Arial is nice. They’re all nice.
  3. Make sure the letters are big and black.
  4. Print the sign on standard paper on any printer and look at it. Do you like it? If so, you’re done printing.
  5. Put your new sign on the bed of an overhead projector, turn it on, and do what the Freeway Blogger is doing — trace the outline of the letters, then paint with a nice wide brush.

None of this has to be perfect — just do what’s shown in the video. Your sign will look great from 100 yards away through a haze of carbon monoxide.

Where do you get an overhead projector?

Overhead projectors were once the bee’s knees in the corp world (yes, corp bees had knees in those days, before 2000 or so). Now overhead projectors have been replaced by computers.

Local grade schools still use them — maybe — but almost no one else does. People sell them though. Because they are so old, so pre-2000, they are really cheap compared to their original prices. And most of the sellers will bargain. After all, if they wanted to throw the thing away, they would have.

As of the time of writing, this one at Amazon was $65.00.  I see them on eBay for as little as $18.00 and up to the Amazon price (also here). Recycled Geekware stores in your town could have them, as could used office supply shops. I hear the Internet has other ways to look for things as well.

Why do Freeway Blogging?

The original Freeway Blogger offered 100 reasons in a Dkos diary. Do click; it’s a fun read. But I’ll offer the short version:

It’s fun.
It’s cheap.
You can have a huge effect.

Do you have an activist streak? You can be a freeway blogger. Did you hang out at Occupy? You have what it takes. Want to throw a wrench into the CEO-controlled world? Occupy the overpass and have your say to everyone who drives by. Change minds — change the narrative — be a freeway blogger.

Freeway blogging is especially needed in Washington D.C., where the kings and queens of the world can be spoken to in very high concentrations. Do you live in D.C.? Want to talk back to your lords and masters? They’re right where you want them, stuck in traffic, breathing that monoxide and staring idly out the window. This could be your work:

Freeway Blogger — Permafrost

Your audience awaits. See their bored hungry minds? Go for it. (You can even use freeway blogging for rebranding your favorite politician if you want. It will likely have an effect — especially in DC or the pol’s home district.)


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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