Trends Analysis of Manual Signage Technology in Ghana


The art of manual signage production emerged in the Gold Coast in the early part of the 20th century when local craftsmen and artisans imitated the text and illustrations of signs imported into the country by the colonial administration and merchants to develop skills of lettering and stenciling which subsequently, developed into a local craft called sign writing. The art flourished through series of technological developments until computer graphics and digital printing emerged in Ghana. Anecdotal evidence indicate that these trends have not been documented comprehensively therefore creating a huge deficit of authentic historical information on the evolutionary trends of signage technology in Ghana. The study aimed at conducting historical research into the developmental trends of manual signage technology in Ghana and documents them for posterity. The study was limited to Accra metropolis and adopted the interpretivism paradigm. Qualitative research approaches were used to conduct the study. Two traditional sign writing shops and four large-scale outdoor advertising agencies were purposively selected and a total of sixteen respondents were used. Unstructured observation, unstructured interview guide, document study and still-picture photography were used to gather data for the study. The data was recorded manually and electronically, the photographs were sifted and edited and the texts were manually transcribed, coded and analysed. The results revealed that manual signage technology started in the Gold Coast in the 1930s through experimentations by local craftsmen and visual art graduates from Achimota College. Since then the craft has gone through series of technological developments to date, but the inception of computer graphics and digital printing in Ghana in the 1990s and the year 2000 respectively, continue to reduce the patronage of manual signage drastically in Ghana. The study therefore recommended that, communication design departments, graduates and students in Ghana must be empowered to research into various aspects of communication design in Ghana and document them. Also, local sign writers who lack skills in computer graphics must learn the art so as to make them competitive in the industry.