Sometime back, I wrote about how lawn signs have evolved in offering self-expressive messages about one’s beliefs, values, and tributes to others. I also wrote about the power of messaging emerging from handmade cardboard placards witnessed throughout the country in protest last summer. Even graffiti has evolved from its early days from name tagging to messages that are thought-provoking and humorous as part of the artist’s vision expressed in a mural.
We all know that messaging in advertising is powerful in influencing us to purchase something that we didn’t need until they told you must desperately have this. One type of messaging that has drawn my attention for some time and that I enjoy taking photos of is those quirky sidewalk chalkboards that we bump into when strolling thru a commercial area.
Today, there are chalkboards everywhere, not quite cluttering the street, yet enough of them to notice how unique they are at engaging an audience. Signs are quick to read and are both funny and enticing, and sometimes thought-provoking.
A bit of history on chalkboards and how they have evolved. Pioneered in Scotland in the early 1800s, chalkboards were mainly made of slate popularized in the classroom before they started to be replaced by dry erase whiteboards and smartboards. This old technology is no longer relevant in the classroom. For folks like me who grew up learning in the classroom with a chalkboard, this was our first “widescreen” to see what is written, much like reading from a monitor. I remember loving the messiness of the chalk dust and the annoying scratching of the chalkboard. I also remembered getting caught chewing gum in the classroom and had to write 25 times on the chalkboard, “I will not chew gum in class.” Happy to say I was not the only one caught chewing gum.
The Power of Messaging
Much like other tools no longer used in the classroom, the chalkboard has evolved. It has become a very trendy messenger enabling restaurants, cafes, bars, grocery stores, and other foodies and retail establishments an affordable alternative to driving foot traffic into their business. It offers a more personal connection when stopping to take in the coaxing cleverness of the message for a drink, a day spa or to sell you something. A few of my favorites noted in many of my photos in this story are:
A bakery — Pilates! I thought you said Pie & Lattes.
A winery — Coffee keeps me going until it’s time for wine.
A bar’s Happy Hour— Have a lot on your mind come in and drink about it.
A camera shop — Life is like a camera, focus on what is important, capture
the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don’t work out, take another shot. (love, love, love this one)
Not all chalkboards are as funny or thoughtful. Many just plainly telling you what to expect, what it cost, and what not to do. They even remind you to wear your mask. But overall, it is fair to say that a smartly written message can influence you to try something new. They have the power to engage you and also take you back to your childhood when writing on slate with a piece of chalk was just as important as books and paper.
The photos for this story are of chalkboards of every kind, both funny and serious.
Click the center of the photo to see the full view.
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