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Board labeling made easy

Offer boards in individual design are a perfect business card for the business. More and more catering concepts are relying on the old craft of hand lettering - and are thus in line with the current self-made trend in the catering industry. To ensure that a chalkboard is an eye-catcher for guests, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Wand mit Handlettering-Elementen hinter einer Bar

Unlovingly designed advertising messages are not uncommon on restaurant boards: poorly legible fonts, stylistic spelling mistakes, unattractive messages - anyone who keeps a watchful eye on the restaurant world will discover many a mishap. But even with simple means and a few tips, you can turn a blackboard into a real eye-catcher - and thus into an inexpensive and effective marketing tool.

Storytelling on the wall

Guests of the system caterer Vapiano, for example, are experiencing just how effective high-quality, personalized chalkboard art can be. The food counters of the branches are adorned with oversized chalkboard elements on which, in addition to the food on offer, hand-painted chalkboard art and all kinds of philosophies and quotes relating to the epicurean Mediterranean lifestyle are depicted - this is how perfect storytelling on the chalkboard works. No wonder more and more trendy bars and restaurants are emulating this example in 2016. It's no longer just about writing on the blackboard, not mere decoration, here we can speak of true works of art, which can also be found in typical Irish pubs in this country. Because not only in North America, also in the Anglo-Saxon area the art of the table lettering is widespread for a long time. Here, there is even the official job title of "chalkboard artist", i.e. artists who label and paint chalkboards full-time - according to the wishes and ideas of their customers.

Chalkboard art as a profession

ARTE Jamisa bei der Arbeit: Chalkboard-Art

In Germany, on the other hand, professional blackboard letterer Jamila von Carnap has few professional colleagues. The young artist is part of the company ARTE Jamisa in Kempten in the Allgäu. In addition to panel art, this also offers calligraphy, wall decorations, decorative painting as well as art paintings, among other things. "In a time of graphic design and computer fonts, we want to consciously revive the old craft. We create unique eye-catchers for our customers," explains Jamila von Carnap.

Chalk-Art am Beispiel einer Wandtafel mit Werbung für Burger

Her passion for restaurant blackboard labeling and painting arose almost out of necessity. "I was working in the restaurant business at the time and we also had a chalkboard. We had to make regular touch-ups or changes. So I slowly grew into this art - and developed my very own direction," she reveals. Today, she benefits from knowing the restaurant business "from behind the counter" as well. So she has developed a special feeling for what the guest really wants to see on the board - and what information is rather dispensable. "Beautifully designed boards in the catering trade have definitely been a trend for some time. However, it's no longer just about handwriting. Rather, my customers usually want something quite individual," she explains. The menu on the wall is therefore now less in demand. Instead, many restaurateurs are opting to put a cheeky slogan, their very own philosophy, or information about their products in the foreground of the design - including individual design of the overall image, of course.

The chalkboard story

The profession of chalkboard artist, or chalkboard letterer, developed in the United States, where billboards had been getting more creative for decades. At first, it was beautifully written words. Then small graphic decorative elements were added. Over time, thanks to different fonts and illustrations, the boards became real works of art. Whether for bars, restaurants, hotels or organic food stores - a blackboard lettering requires creativity, time and absolute concentration.

Readability before originality

Asked for her recipe for successful design, she advises: "Rule number 1, which every designer should internalize again and again: Readability always comes before originality! Art is to combine both!" In addition, of course, it is always necessary to consider what the customer wants to achieve, she adds. "First and foremost, of course, he wants to sell something. This offer must be quickly grasped by the customer." The chosen font also plays a decisive role in this: "It should be sufficiently clear, but nevertheless also have that certain something. A mixture of clarity, playfulness and attractiveness to the eye is ideal," advises Jamila von Carnap for the right blackboard lettering.

Readability…

… is one thing, but beyond that, the desired message still needs to be clarified.

"Less is more"…
… this must be clear to every table artist. With a wide range of food and beverages, it is advisable to pick out only the most important items. The board should also have a logical design structure so that the reader grasps what it is all about at first glance. Headings, bullet points and appropriate line spacing help with reading. It doesn't matter whether you use ordinary chalk or chalk markers. Conventional chalk should only be used outdoors in good weather.

Do-it-yourself

3 Polaroid-Bilder mit Handlettering Ideen
gezeichneter Eisbecher mit Bleistift auf einem weißem Blatt Papier

Of course, it doesn't always have to be the high art of a chalkboard artist. With a few tools and a set of liquid chalk markers, the restaurateur with a smaller budget can also design and label his advertising board attractively himself.

First of all, it is advisable to draw your own ideas of the blackboard design on a sketch sheet before you start with the actual blackboard lettering. With the help of a spirit level and a meter measure, you can then measure and mark how the surface will be divided up - and where letters will be placed later. Typography websites (e.g. dafont.com) provide support in designing the typeface, offering free downloadable fonts that are ideally suited for blackboard lettering. Mixtures of widely different fonts are allowed here. Inspirations for small illustrations to liven things up, e.g. an apple or grapes, are also plentiful on the Internet. A Google search for clipart to create the sketch will help here!

Stencils and templates help

The sketch is then either projected onto the corresponding surface with a beamer or an overhead projector and traced - or, depending on the degree of difficulty, simply drawn from the paper. A practical solution are stencils that can be easily transferred. These can either be bought ready-made or, of course, you can make them yourself. If, however, an attempt is missed, water or a special cleaning agent for blackboard chalk reliably removes the traces. Smaller impurities, for example on the lettering, can be cleaned up with cotton swabs. Of course, the same applies to lettering: If the first attempt is not immediately a masterpiece, a little practice and patience helps for the perfect "wall tattoo".

The right board for every need

An einer Wand hängen verschiedene große Tafeln mit Chalkboard-Art

By the way, the timeless advertising ambassadors are available in a wide range of variants and styles - from stylish baroque frames to bottle shapes. Frameless wall panels for interiors, for example, are in vogue and available in a wide range of sizes. Alternatively, a blackboard foil can be flexibly adapted to the possibilities offered by a guest room. This is because the film is easy to cut to fit any wall. For outdoor use, weatherproof sidewalk displays are an excellent eye-catcher to attract customers.

Regardless of which variant the restaurateur chooses, a creatively labeled advertising space almost never fails to make an impact on guests. Andrea Landolt is also absolutely certain: "Signage is increasingly becoming an integral part of the overall concept of a restaurant. Accordingly, the quality demands on the blackboard are increasing." Blackboard labeling works!

Tips for blackboard labeling

Layout and text
  1. Make a sketch before you start with the lettering!
  2. Make sure the font size is appropriate! From what distance should your message still be easy to read?
  3. Choose the distances between letters and words sufficiently large before you start with the lettering!
  4. Headings should stand out clearly from the text. Spacing and open spaces have a structuring effect.
  5. Small drawings and symbols loosen up the blackboard lettering.
  6. Have a second person check the spelling.
  7. Use two or three different fonts.
  8. Without a sketch, it is best to count the letters and spaces to adjust the center. Then measure with tape measure.
  9. Paint the grid thinly and remove it afterwards with a cotton swab.
Tafelaufsteller mit dem Spruch "There is no x in Espresso"

Tricks for the implementation

  1. With normal chalk completely hatch the board before the first writing and remove again.
  2. Stencils made of stronger material such as cardboard can be used several times.
  3. The template can also be traced by hatching the back of the template with chalk, then placing it on the board and tracing the lines of the template with a ballpoint pen.
  4. When transferring without a projector, adhesive tapes (e.g. Washi Tape) help to ensure the correct division.
  5. For round shapes, a piece of string with chalk tied to one end can be used to make a compass. Draw straight lines with the ruler.
  6. It is best to write with wet chalk.
  7. Use colored chalk only at the end.
  8. Design the edges first, then write on them.
  9. Use hairspray to fix normal chalk. It is water soluble.


Writing utensils

Chalk pencil

The line is very thin and not very strong, so it is not suitable for large boards. It can be helpful for detailing drawings or for small formats on the table.

Chalk

The line is wide and somewhat rough, so chalk is suitable for larger words and pictures. It gives the true blackboard look.

Chalk marker

The liquid chalk enables a bold, full-surface line. The classic look is somewhat lost as a result, but it can be used to write and draw particularly easily.

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