The amazing portable signs of rural America

As I drove along Route 28, I was taken in by the fantastic flexibility of these ubiquitous billboards

Published February 6, 2012 1:00AM (EST)

This article originally appeared on Imprint.

I've been slightly obsessed with portable roadside signage since I first encountered a stretch of white boxes with flashing red arrows along Route 28 in upstate New York. I'd certainly seen that form of advertising before, but didn't realize how ubiquitous it was throughout rural America (or admittedly, what little I know of rural America).

I fantasized about owning a portable sign of my very own, and made mental lists of what it would say. In the end, the beauty of the sign was in its flexibility. I could advertise a pancake breakfast one week and a yard sale the next. Maybe I’d post words of wisdom, or raise philosophical questions. I could keep it in the yard as an art installation of sorts, or hitch it to my car and drag it to the end of the driveway to alert the fire department. It seemed like an investment that would pay for itself.

I was surprised that portable signs actually weren't that expensive. I could get a nice setup for under $500, or for about $1,300 on wheels. Poking around online to find distributors was easy-breezy; there was no shortage of reader board vendors. The font selection was a bit sparse, but several sources had fancy faux dimensional options (though I'm a traditionalist and would stick to the simple “Block”). A design tip on cautions, ”Always, always check your spelling.” Words to live by.

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2012.

Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America's oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.

By Gail Anderson

MORE FROM Gail Anderson

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Design Imprint