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Give Me a Sign

By on July 20, 2010
RoadKing Mag

Rolling down the highway, truckers zip past staggered signs without a second thought. But German photographer Josef Schulz has actually managed to turn these common billboards into works of art.

Schulz recently traveled America via highway for his photo series, appropriately titled “Sign Out.” During his journey, he photographed prominent signs along the highway and then photoshopped out any and all text, leaving sculptures of only accentuated shape and color. Now, drivers have morphed Schulz’s photo series into a brain teaser, trying to decipher the identity of each manipulated sign. But no matter how many times you’ve seen these frequent highway billboards, they take on a whole new meaning out of context.

Schulz not only reduces signs to their architectural origins in “Sign Out,” he also photographs each against a perfectly clear, blue sky, making it even harder to determine where each sign belongs.

Take the recognizable Waffle House sign, for example. Schulz’s version isn’t smothered or covered but consists of a simple yellow background with black lines outlining two rows of small squares — six on the top and five on the bottom. If that’s too easy for you, try the sign of three stacked rectangular boxes of black, red and white. Give up? It belongs to Lincoln Mercury.

A game may not be what Schulz had in mind when creating “Sign Out,” but it’s certainly become an enjoyable, and pretty tricky, quiz for drivers to test their highway sign knowledge.

Think you have what it takes to put the name with the sign? Check out the photo series at You may be surprised at how little you know about the structure behind the words.


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