Losing Their Heads: New Ways of Sign Manipulation


Signs are begging for alterations. The flat silhouetted figure with the round head is inhuman. It’s identifiable as someone heading for a hiking trail or crossing the street but it’s boring. We’re lucky someone is out there making it their mission to liven things up. In a previous post, the focus was on a variety of sign styles–I even missed a Shel Silverstein reference. These days the efforts concentrate on the improving the head section of the signs creating a more visually stimulating design.

Toasted Cat

Cat-Dogs are real!

Somehow the lady remained unscathed, the gentleman became a toast head and the couple’s dog is forced to recover from a cat head transplant operation. It’s great to see this scene from a sign in Multnomah Village transformed beyond the typical dog walk. The toast adds flavor to the image while the sign now needs to read: PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR CAT.

The Googly Eyes Gaze

Look this way.

It doesn’t take much to spruce up the round headed, no necked hiker on this sign. In the outskirts of SW Portland, where this sign was seen, the smallest detail passes for entertainment.


Skulking around.

The round skull sticker that dots the hiker from a South Portland sign is the right shape and scale to make a dramatic improvement to this sign. A colorful and ornate design is a far cry better than what’s underneath.


Straight shooter?

These SW Portland sign manipulations near the Barbur Transit Center strike at the deep need for this hiker to indulge in vices like gun shooting and cigarette smoking. With the addition of a cowboy hat he’d have the makings of a Wild West hiker villain.


Tripping Over My Tongue

Let’s roll!

It isn’t the best way to decorate a handicapped parking sign demonstrating a lack of respect for people with disabilities. Still, the benchmark is whether you’d rather look at a giant eyed, tongue flapping orange head or a white circle. This image might reflect how people look after a night at the Kenton Club where the parking space is located.

Orange Kid

No complaints about complex completions.

Decorate, manipulate away if you have a sticker as good as this one seen in South Tabor. The facial expression is crazy, the complexion is positively Mars inspired and this character doesn’t seem to be taking his street crossing ambitions seriously. The head still floats in an unnatural way that makes my neck sore. This face was so distracting that I had no time to consider how it’s possible to ride a bike without pedals or handlebars.

Bear Crossing

Bearly visible.

You have to look close. Closer. Even closer. I was confident there were no bears in the vicinity of this sign I saw in the Piedmont neighborhood near the Lloyd Center. This bear head resembles more than a trophy. It covers up that tired black circle proving once again that a subtle attempt to make a dull sign interesting deserves accolades.


Saving Face

Face peel.

If you head into the heart of NE near the Laurelhurst Theater, you’ll find signs stickered up almost beyond recognition. Spotting the face sticker peeling off this sign was sad but the initial attempt was appreciated. Even half a face is better than that blasted dot beneath it.

The Devil Outside

Parody for you and me.    (Photo by Graham Marks)

This parody of the sign man caught my eye on a friend’s instagram feed. Sign man deserves a good spoof. The sticker insinuates there’s inherent evil associated with the briefcase bearing corporate type. No one addresses the issue of how sign man does anything including carrying stuff, riding a bike or walking without hands or even feet but that’s an issue better left to a future post.


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