Searching for Words and Text in the City


Searching for Words and Text in the City

Someone once said to me that I was a word hunter. I would have to agree.


I love the written word, puns, sentences, lettering, sayings, rhymes, texts, and quotes. Strolling through the city, you can find a lot of this – you just have to keep a lookout for it. Particularly in large cities you can encounter guerrilla art as stickers, sprayed words on house fronts, postcards in front of small shops, colorful signs, or old lettering and neon signs above a shop entry.


When I drive to the city from the country, I always take my camera. If there is not much shopping to do, the list of errands isn’t too long, and I don’t have to carry heavy bags around with me, I always wear my camera around my neck – never in my handbag, because there might be a new, really good motive waiting for me just around the next street corner.



You miss a lot of good motives if you are rushing from one place to the next and only look into the shop windows. For example, I always look at lamp posts or traffic light poles, because this is where people leave stickers with messages. I also always search the postcard stands which are often found outside of shops for funny or unusual messages.



I particularly love old neon advertising which is rarely seen anymore nowadays. It is also worthwhile to raise your eyes every now and again and look up at the houses. Maybe the shop which used to be below the advertising no longer exists, but the neon sign is often left there and tells the passer-by about the shop that used to be in this spot. If that is the case, I often ask myself what this street looked like 30, 40, or 50 years ago when the hardware shop still existed. What shops were to the left and to the right of it and who would have shopped here?



Permanently fixed signs and advertisements often tell stories of times gone by, but so does the sticker which was only affixed to the traffic light pole recently and will surely be stuck there for a few years yet… if nothing else is glued over the top of it. I love capturing these messages with my camera.



Here are my tips for strolling through the city and searching for and finding written, glued, or sprayed text: Leave your shopping list at home and just take your camera this time. Let yourself drift through the streets, look up, but also see what you can find directly in front of you on the street. Always look at the lamp posts and traffic light poles and glance into the side streets once in a while. You might just find an old neon sign which you never noticed until now. Strike out on new paths and discover streets you have never been on before. If there are people next to or behind the motive you have selected, then just simply wait. Maybe your chosen motive will be even more interesting with an elderly gentleman next to it, lighting a cigarette. Gather up your courage and venture through an archway into a back courtyard. Maybe you will find an old dustbin that has a funny sticker on it?

I hope you have lots of fun searching for and finding messages. Best wishes, Bine

Bine has been blogging since 2007 at “was eigenes”. The topics of her blogs are a colorful mixture of things she has experienced or created, of culinary delights and a dash of something personal. Photography plays a big part in this.

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