American Sign Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 25, 2014

By Erica Bolenbaugh


Over the past few months, the program has been underway in Covington. 26 businesses applied to participate in the program and over 130 artists attended one of two workshops to learn more about the program. During the design competition, we received 169 designs from 50 artists. Each participating small business was able to pick their favorite design. The designs are refined at an event called the Blitz. During the Blitz, the designs are reviewed by an architect, zoning and historic preservation professionals, fabricators and the CoSign team, to ensure they are meeting all City Codes and can be built safely and effectively.

The designer/business teams have a chance to revise their design based on the feedback at the Blitz. Those refined designs are their final submissions. A jury of design professionals evaluates the final design submissions based on context, construction, concept, and collaboration. The jury selected 11 submissions to be fabricated and installed in September. CoSign announced the winners and we are currently in the process of creating permitting drawings for each sign.

From the first round of CoSign, a business loved their sign so much that they re-did their branding materials to include the logo for the sign. The business did not consult with the designer before doing this and the designer felt as though she created her design to be used for the sign only. CoSign did not have any paperwork that explicitly discussed this. She approached CoSign for guidance in handling the situation, as she wanted to be paid for the extra branding work. CoSign has connected the business and the artist and provided all the written communication between CoSign and the small business and acted as a mediator between the two parties. In future correspondence, when a business learns they have won a sign, they receive the following terms of the program: CoSign designs may not be reproduced or otherwise employed as a business logo/identity without consent of the designer.

Recent Wins
Recent press received by the project
• CoSign selected 11 signs to move onto fabrication.

CoSign is a design competition, therefore not every designer/small business pair, that participates in the process, will be selected to move onto fabrication. Inevitably, each round, this causes some frustration among our participants. It is in CoSign’s best interest to have many participants, so we can build and support well-designed signage. We, however, also want individuals to feel as though this was a valuable experience for them. What can we do to make individuals feel that their time was well-spent, even if they do not ultimately receive a sign?