Ver y Mirar.
El detalle de las letras

An exhibition in vernacular lettering

Back in 2005 I was living in the southeast of Spain, in the city of Valencia. I was studying an MA on Graphic Design where I met people as interested as me in typography. In no time my three colleagues – Rubén Arnal, Ainhoa Fernández and Ricardo Peña – and I were deciding to publish a new magazine focusing on typography. We called it Iconographic magazine. Each issue was devoted to one topic (first “Looking into the past” in 2007, second “Urban typography” in 2008, third “Lettering” in 2010, and finally an homage to the late Spanish designer Paco Bascuñán, also in 2010). So far four issues have been published, although I was involved only in the first three.

For the second issue, the one devoted to urban typography, we decided to publish an article displaying pictures of lettering and typography used in urban environments. So we made a public invitation via Flickr and other online social media. Considering the magazine was an independent initiative of four students, and that it had limited scope, the response was overwhelming. We received pictures from all over the world and in no time we were managing more than a thousand pictures (now a thousand may not sound like that much, but in that moment it was a lot).

We published several pictures on two double pages of the magazine, and then we decided to use more of them in an exhibition that we created in parallel to the magazine, “Ver y Mirar” (something like “Seeing and Looking”). We thought a video projected on a wall would be the perfect medium to deal with so many pictures. It was also our way to pay a tribute to everyone involved, since not all the photographs were included in the printed magazine. The screen was divided in four parts, and the music, created by the musician Jeremias Pau Toledo, provided the perfect rhythm for the slideshow. It was not easy to follow all the pictures, but that proved to be a nice metaphor of the abundance I terms of lettering and signs that we are confronted with every day on the streets of our cities.

For different reasons we could not upload the video back then to any digital platform, recently that I decided to share it and uploaded it to my own website.

Thanks to Jeremias Pau Toledo, El Hombreviento, for creating such a special music

And thanks to Graciella Artiga for the help sorting out the images Graciella in Linkedin

For those who couldn’t see the exhibition:

And images of Iconographic no2. flickr There is also a page-flip in the magazine website.


We walk through the streets without looking, barely seeing. We are not aware of all the elements that surround us, that help us moving around, that point directions, routes, streets, shops, buses…
We go from reading to seeing, words become forms we recognise, we see images, the act of reading is simplified and we overlook the little details that differentiate one letterform from another.
If we started observing we would begin to appreciate all those elements, usually ignored, and without them life as we conceive it today, it would not be the same. These are the same letters that allow us reading books and newspapers, movies subtitles, vinyls names, brands, all same letters that [in the street] our eyes forget to see.
If we watched those letters in detail we will see some tall and short, black, white, coloured, fat and thin, luminous one, with hat, with foot, sturdy, modern and classic, new and old… Hundreds, thousands of different letterforms in our cities.
In this exhibition we do not want to display them all, that would be an impossible task, but emphasise the differences between the elements that surrounded us, consider the environment around us, applied to typography, or in the words, to letterforms.
Therefore, you are all invited to watch.


Caminamos por las calles sin mirar, sin apenas ver. No nos damos cuenta de todos los elementos que nos rodean, que nos ayudan a movernos, que nos señalan las rutas, los caminos, las calles, los comercios, los autobuses…
Pasamos de leer a ver, las palabras se convierten en formas que reconocemos, visualizamos imágenes, la lectura así se simplifica y hace que pasemos por alto los detalles que las forman. Son las mismas letras que nos permiten leer libros y periódicos, los subtítulos de las películas, los nombres de los discos, las marcas de ropa; esas mismas letras que nuestros ojos no ven.
Si empezásemos a observar veríamos todos estos elementos que habitualmente ignoramos, y sin los cuales la vida, tal y como la concebimos hoy en día, no sería lo mismo.
Si miramos esas letras con detalle las habrá altas y bajas, negras, blancas, de colores, finas y gruesas, luminosas, con sombrero, con pie, recias, modernas y clásicas, nuevas y viejas… Cientos, sino miles, de letras diferentes en nuestras ciudades.
En esta exposición queremos, no mostrarlas todas, sería una misión imposible, pero sí hacer hincapié en esa diferencia entre ver los elementos que nos rodean y mirarlos, aprender a tener en cuenta nuestro entorno, aplicado a la tipografía, es decir, a las letras.
Están, por tanto, todos ustedes invitados a mirar.


Rubén Arnal, Ainhoa Fernández, Ricardo Peña and Elena Veguillas. Alberto de Pedro, Ana Valenciano, Alexander Hage, Baptiste Pons, Carlos Cabañas, Gloria Inglis, Jimena Roquero, María Valle, Marta Vallejos, Montse Mas Hurtuna, Natalia Salazar, Paula Roquero, Perezvila, Raul Allen, Rebeca Gordillo y Roberto Vidal Puente.
From the photographic exhibition organised by Centro Cultural de España en Buenos Aires [CCEBA and por Tipos Latinos Argentina Alejandra Rodriguez, Ana María Pizarro Ruiz, Angelina Sánchez, Axel Hochegger, Daniel Vicente Gomez, Dafna Nudelman, Diego Mier Y Terán, Carlos Añazco, Carolina Leal, Claudia Contreras, Elsebra, Gisela Rodríguez Polich, Giselle Arruda,Griselda Muñiz, Guido Olivares, Guillermo Buelga, Hernan Cassulllo, John Moore, Juan Manuel Alonso, Juan Ignacio Elizalde, Julia Inchaurregui, Laura Andreoni, Leo Spinetto, Lionel Tzazkin, Lorena Taibo, Marcela Romero, Maryliana García, Natalia Valos, Norman Fisch, Pablo Cosgaya, Piotr Drynko, Pcg63, Ramiro Viveros, Ricardo Naiberger, Rolando Tamani , Veronica Rossi, Víctor García, Sebastián Vivarelli y Yadira Milena Silgado Villadiego.
From the Flickr group: Amadeu Sanz, Ank Sam, António Cruz, Baptiste Pons, Bellafer*, Birx, Carlita!, Carlos Cabañas Herranz, César Riquelme, Ciio, Clgg, Crystian Cruz, Daf Nudelman, Dave Cowlard, David Herranz, Drusila Di Bella, Echiner1, Esther, Evasee, Fernandoprats, Héctor Castañón, Ian Gallagher, Isaac Bordons, Toncho, Domibrez, Jessie Ugarte, Jesus Fernando, Jorge Lens [Proyecto Tipografía Regional], Juan Carlos Vanegas, Laura Cermeño, Laurinkofler, Leo Spinetto, Luciano Vergara, Manel, Daniel Sesma, Manuel Sesma, Manu Ruiz, Matias.Pardo001, Nano Trías, Neus Moltó, Okokitsme, Pelz, Philipp Messner, Punki, Prudencio Fonseca, Ricardoo, Sebastian Rojas Muñoz, Siempre_alerta, Sven Palmowski (A.Mar.Illo), Tomas Gorria, Tono G. Ayora, Visualpanic y +Valk, Yann. ¡Thanks!

© 2021 Elena Veguillas. Set in iA Writer Duo, by BoldMonday. Updated 21 January 2021