Walking Men

Some time at the end of the 20th century, a strange phenomenon appeared on our streets: Pedestrian Symbol S2, a white painted figure defining the separation of space between walking and cycling. But the lack of template or stencil meant this bland uniform sign unwittingly became an oppor­tunity for artistic expression.

Graffiti aside, hand-drawn signs have virtually disappeared from our urban landscape. Yet these Walking Men are not only hand-made but often gloriously so, created with generously applied viscous ‘lining’ paint.

The variety is extraordinary. Sometimes the official design is followed reasonably. Other times, it’s just ignored and quite sophisticated alterna­tive personal versions created. Then occasionally we see awkwardly distressed versions – maybe the painter was having trouble, and would have preferred to be doing simple white lines that day.

Perhaps these Walking Men reveal something about ourselves. Though clear design rules were laid down, isn’t it human nature to let our individ­uality subvert those rules a little?

Stephen Wragg, a fine art graduate of Chelsea School of Art, was commissioned in 2004 to map and photograph the fast-expanding National Cycle Network for local Highways authorities.

He soon began to notice the variation in the white pedestrian symbols along the way. So began a seven-year odyssey to track down and document the Walking Men of Britain.

The full collection is featured on his website.



More from CR

Trollbäck’s TED conference opening titles

Trollbäck + Company’s titles for the 2011 TED conference in Edinburgh feature everyday objects, some as big as a plane, some as small as a microbe all rendered as black, shiny 3d shapes that build up in the animation, giving the viewer a shifting cross-seciton view of each object…

Dalton Maag’s Elevon typeface has just taken off

Dalton Maag has just launched its latest typeface, Elevon.If you think it looks like it might have been developed for the branding of a Sci-Fi movie set in space, well, you’re almost right…

Degree shows 2011: Chelsea graphic design

Chelsea College of Art and Design’s graphic design communication degree show has been put together really well. I went along yesterday – here are some of my highlights

Cannes 2011: Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase

The Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes is always a hot ticket, as much for its showmanship as the films shown. This year was no exception, as the agency teamed up with Warp Records to present a live light show extravaganza starring Jamie Lidell…

Senior Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency

Head of Digital Content

Red Sofa London