Chalk Signs - Corporate Promotion and Staff Uprising

Chalk signs. You know - chalkboard signs decorated with menus, promotional tag lines, simple price displays, usually found at grocery stores or restaurants - that rough and personalized touch that helps build a personal bond between you and your retailer. One Canadian company, Chalk It Up!, has created 400 boards since 2001, including 75 for the Ruby Tuesday chain of casual dining restaurants. Claire Watson, the principal artist, has posted several images from her work on flickr.

Chalk signs provide hearty opposition to the polished and focus-tested stalagmites that otherwise dot the grocery floor - the promotional pop-ups, tasting stations, shipping palettes disguised as festive boxes, and good old fashioned Super Bowl celebrity cut-outs.

Properly conceived and executed, chalk signs can convince a consumer that their chosen shop or store is so fresh, so responsive and so connected to the community that their signs HAVE to be chalk, HAVE to be changed every day.

When institutionalized, though, chalk signs can prompt memories of the big bad wolf, dressed in Grandma's bedclothes: when Whole Foods, Starbucks, Domino's or Movenpick Marche list ingredients, menu items or prices in a chalk script, I get a faint whiff of lupine halitosis.

The most appealing quality of chalk signs is their humour. Subtle, ironic, sophisticated, blunt, or punny. The artists and workers who put some real effort into the signs should be recognized - at the very least with a piece of flair that says "I'm the chalk artist, tip me well!"

In the wrong hands chalk signs can provide quick outlets for staff dissatisfaction - like at this New Orleans Starbucks.

Lord of the Bings, from Lizzy poo's portfolio of chalk signs on flickr.

[tags] chalk signs, chalk menus, restaurant menu [/tags]