Electrical Tape Sign Art


Shinjuku Station? Huge. With 3.3 million people passing through one of Tokyo's busiest stations daily, it's not exactly a place that can be closed for renovation. Starting in 2003, a construction worker by the name Shuetsu Satoh began creating temporary signs made from strips of adhesive tape. These weren't typical construction signs, but instead, elaborate works of art. Not only did his work help herds of commuters find their way through the Shinjuku Station labyrinth, but they were also strikingly attractive.

Using multi-colored electrical tape, trimmed to create different shapes, Satoh employed a distinctive stylized blocky font for his creations, which differed greatly from the bland font the station was already using. According to Satoh, his boss asked him to hurry up with his sign creation—not so much because Satoh was working too slow, but rather, because his boss wanted to see Satoh's latest creation. Now that his work at Shinjuku Station is finished, he is now creating signs and arrows for the Nippori Station, currently under renovation. There's a documentary about Satoh's Shinjuku signs ( here and here) in which he talks about the challenges of creating these signs, and a new doc in progress looks at his new work. It's fascinating, even if you don't understand Japanese and beautiful no matter what language you speak.

See more images here and here.

by Brian Ashcraft