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Arts and Entertainment

A Typographic Map of Los Angeles

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Chicago graphic designer, Jenny Beorkrem, designs neighborhood posters of various cities in her own simple typographic style. A couple weeks ago, she released the Los Angeles one (available in three colors, see large image here), adding to the collection of other cities that include San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The 24” x 36” (that's 6 sq. ft.) eco-friendly posters (100% recycled paper with soy-based inks) show 111 neighborhoods in Los Angeles represented by their names in Beorkrem style's of typography layout.

The moment we saw this poster, it became an instant favorite (we're going for the minimalist white one). We rang Beorkrem for a little Q & A. She was kind enough to talk to us as she watched a Cubs game.

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Culver City? Beverly Hills? Those are not in Los Angeles

"I started off with the rule that is was the city limits and that's it. Then LA comes along and there all those little cities and unicorporated areas," she explained. It was a tough job and she originally made it without the smaller island cities like West Hollywood, but it looked like someone did target practice with the poster.

Los Angeles has around 180 neighborhoods, but, so far, no one has been able to verify the actual count. Not even city council members have able to name the neighborhoods in their own districts.

How does a Chicagoan get to know LA?

With a lot of help from the city. She called Mayor Villaraigosa's office who put her in touch with a planner that she was able to correspond with. She also referenced a lot of maps, neighborhood council webpages, used other personal contacts, books and drew conclusions based on that information. She tried to stay away from Realtor defined neighborhoods with the goal of going more with ones defined by popular culture.

What about the generalizations of Downtown and South LA?

When approaching large areas that had various and smaller cut up neighborhoods, Beorkrem had to make an aesthetic choice. If Downtown and South LA were cut up into the micro yet official hoods on the poster, it would have easily doubled in size to six feet.

Is the poster screen printed?

Nope. Los Angeles is so huge and has so many compact neighborhoods, Beorkrem's screen printing company in Chicago found the LA poster difficult to produce. For now, the poster is done with standard offset printing.

What is that font?

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It's DIN 1451. "It's fairly different from a lot of bold condensed fonts and it's a lot more geometric," she explained. "And it is quite a bit taller than a lot of fonts as far as proportions go and that works well for scale. It looks like the same typeface whether it is 2 pts or 60 pts."

She also offered a little trivia about DIN 1451. Around the 1940s, Germany standardized it as the national font for government use across the country. Signs, letterhead, trains license plates all used it back then.

The posters run at $22 and can be ordered online.