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.
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.