By Sullivan

"My feelings about San Francisco are best expressed through my choice of typeface. Arial," says Richard Smith of his design on behalf of New York-based Sullivan.

by Process Journal

"Titled 16:45, the poster represents the travel time and route (by air) from Melbourne to San Francisco. A typographic approach has been taken by re-interpreting the universal airport flip board signage to represent the departing location, the mandatory stopover and destination. The total time spent in the air has then been overprinted in an orange-red inspired by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge," says Thomas Williams from Australia-based Process Journal.

By Purpose

"Our earliest recollection of San Francisco stems from the geography classroom--exploring earthquakes and the World's fault lines; the most famous being the San Andreas Fault. We experimented with the fragility of a city on a fault line and produced a two leaved poster. The top sheet being torn in half through middle of the typography, to reveal the fault line running through San Fran," says Stuart Young of U.K.-based Purpose.

By Pentagram

"For me San Fran[cisco] is a mixture of the old hippie-Fillmore-flower-child-peace movement against Gap, Levis, and Silicon Valley and foodies. It's a bizarre mix," says New Yorker Paula Scher, of Pentagram.

By Manual

"In San Francisco, only 'insiders' (i.e. people who live here) would ever have owned a Muni monthly Fast Pass, so I thought this was an appropriate way to communicate something 'insider' about the city. The SF Muni Fast Pass was an absolutely beautiful piece of utilitarian design. Many people (everyday people, not just designers) kept and collected them for years, for no other reason than they were beautiful, eclectic, and colorful--a little like the city itself," says Manual's Tom Crabtree.

By Maud

Maud's poster collates snippets of poems, songs, and quotes, all singing San Francisco's praise.

By Ammunition

"Harvey Milk was iconic and pivotal figure in San Francisco politics. We recreated his famous bullhorn as an evidential artifact representing the voice of progressive change," says Brett Wickens and Jeremy Matthews of their hometown.

By Build

Michael C. Place of U.K.-based Build says of San Francisco's squawky seals: "The sight of them (and smell) remains with me to this day. This piece was designed in their honor."

By Sutherland

"I wanted to show the rich tapestry of San Francisco in one image. I came up with compartmentalizing the area with pixels, by using paper and glue instead of the computer," says Rebecca Sutherland.

By Mucho

"To me San Francisco is all about the fog, and the way it wraps itself around the landscape, natural and man-made. I wanted to portray one of the city's most iconic landmarks in the simplest way I could think of. A scene that residents and tourists in the summer are very familiar with," says Rob Duncan of Mucho's San Francisco office.

100 Graphic Designers On The Charms (And Curses) Of San Francisco

Today's leading graphic designers—including Paula Scher, Eddie Opara, Ivan Chermayeff, and more—visualize all the things that make San Francisco so ... San Francisco.

Few cities inspire as much love (or as much vitriol) as San Francisco. Which makes sense considering that the city has given us everything from hippie culture to Silicon Valley to that walking technocratic haircut of a man that is Gavin Newsom. Here to give visual form to all that unbridled passion are 100 graphic designers recruited by the San Francisco arm of the American Institute of Graphic Arts for a silent auction. InsideOut SF, as it's called, will benefit AIGA educational programs.

For the project, AIGA sought work from some of the top graphic designers working today (Paula Scher, Ivan Chermayeff, Eddie Opara), and from San Franciscans and outsiders alike. "We wanted to put on a global show as opposed to just a local show," says AIGA San Francisco Education Chair Rob Duncan, who led the project. Plus, the outside perspective is just plain interesting: "Already there are quite a few references to earthquakes from outsiders, but it's probably the last thing any insider wants to highlight or think about."

Also observed by outsiders? The seals. "The sight of them (and smell) remains with me to this day," says U.K.-based Michael C. Place of his poster, on behalf of the firm Build. "This piece was designed in their honor." Even New Yorkers—San Francisco’s East Coast counterpart—seem to indulge in some stereotypes. Paula Scher’s renderings of flower-child icons and peace icons swirling around a typeface straight from That '70s Show hark (perhaps predictably) back to the Summer of Love.

Impressions become a little more poetic when San Francisco's inhabitants get their say. Harvey Milk, the fog, and little municipal souvenirs like the Muni monthly pass are the seemingly ubiquitous, but quietly romantic, icons for the designers who call San Francisco home. As Manual’s Tom Crabtree puts it: "The Muni Fast Pass was an absolutely beautiful piece of utilitarian design. Many people (everyday people, not just designers) kept and collected them for years, for no other reason than they were beautiful, eclectic, and colorful—a little like the city itself."

The posters will be auctioned off at the InsideOut SF event on November 12, 2013.

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  • Daniel Tastic

    Awesome article! As an aspiring designer in love with San Francisco, this made me feel a little less alone. And a lot more cliche.

    You can find my teeny tiny design blog at