Herreria Ramirez | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Herreria Ramirez

In Europe, Japan, the U. S., you hire a graphic designer to create your look: a clever logo, professionally rendered lettering, perfectly coordinated color schemes. The result looks about as interesting as a Form 1040: slick but no soul.

Mexicans expect individuality in the looks of the small businesses they patronize. An amateurish storefront is no deterrent. Actually it's an asset, because you're assured that you're dealing with a low-overhead, proprietor-run business. You're transacting with the owner, not some bored minimum-wage teenager. And a Mexican small-business owner probably spends more time thinking about taking pride in his work than tailoring his "look" for that all-important under-30 demographic.

For this reason, you see a lot of lemonade-stand-grade signage, some of it quite delightful. Take Herreria "Rameriz" for example.


A herreria is an ironworking shop, a smithy. This is a sign to emphasize these services. I assume the figure represents Sr. Ramirez. To his right there's an oxyacetyline torch, to his left, an arc welder, and a hammer and anvil. A fancy railing illustrates the type of work he does, as does a muffler.

Sr. Ramirez is a stickler for detail. The oxygen and acetyline bottles are the correct colors, the arc welder is properly grounded to the railing he's working on, and he's holding an electrode in his left hand, a welder's mask in his right. Safety first; the mark of a true professional.

The sign painter wasn't as careful: notice how he changed the style of the letter "E" in the middle of a word. I think this just adds to the charm.

But the best part is the figure of Sr. Ramirez himself.


His shirt is smeared with soot, as is his face and arms. His pants are wrinkled. This is a guy that's not afraid to get his hands dirty. Best of all, his shirt is riding up over his ample tummy, exposing his belly button.

This image leaves no doubt that Sr. Ramirez is a serious ironworker. Nor can anyone doubt that he has a playful nature and the humility to poke fun at himself. He's no humorless techie; he's not a egotistical artist. As far as I'm concerned, his sign is all the reference he needs.