Boarding Pass – John Giordani

This week it’s a double header with Boarding Pass. Yesterday was all about Conn, and today belongs to his partner John Giordani. There are so many creative juices between the two of them I can hardly stand it. It’s always refreshing getting a peek into the sketch book of fellow designers (you can see his professional work here). And of course, his collection of vintage signage is fantastic – if only they made signs like they used to! Now if we can only get John to visit Paris (he’s never been)… {Thanks, John!}

last trip taken:

business trip to honolulu
next trip on deck:
upstate new york for parents 50th

one place you would go back to again and again:
i really would rather be no where else but here at home on maui. but if i had to choose, i’d say waimea canyon and kokee state park on kauai.
place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
preferred method of transportation:
car. i do like air travel though. airports always seemed to me to be exciting places. i actually get time to sketch.
place you’ve never been but dying to go:
the grand canyon–actually most of the national parks thanks to that awesome PBS doc. and i always thought it would be great to spend a christmas in a major european city like paris or zurich or copenhagen.

place you’d never go back:
niagara falls
most memorable trip:
soon after graduating college, i took my first cross-country road trip with a friend who was going out to visit her beau in Seattle. It was memorable for 2 reasons, it was the first time seeing many of the natural US wonders and there were lot’s a freakish weather conditions that made for an unforgettable trip. Also, I have to also say that our first trip to Maui in 2001 was memorable because it changed our lives–the seed to live here some day was planted.
how do you prepare for a trip?
i love maps. aesthetically and for their utility. so i study maps of the area and do lot’s of internet research about places of interest, where to stay, where to eat, parks and botanic gardens, etc… i use to compare airline ticket prices. when conn and i would take our trips to hawaii, i’d spend hours and hours online just finding the right cottage to rent. also, i like browsing the travel section in bookstores and flipping through guidebooks. and if can locate the local thrift stores, all the better.
how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
i try to to keep a journal to document what we did, where we ate, what we saw. as a designer i’m fascinated with graphic ephemera so i try to collect packages, product labels, postcards, tickets, programs, etc… that visually appeal to me. also, taking pictures of signage and murals. i find myself taking pictures of interesting buildings too.
the picture of the signage from Leonard’s Bakery was taken in Honolulu on my last business trip. I’ve been developing a website for them and with that vintage sign it’s really a match made in design heaven.

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
i get excited when i see storefronts and signage from the 1920’s through the 1960’s. My 2 trips cross country provided me with a lot of opportunities to shoot vintage roadside motel signage. i can’t get enough of that stuff. eccentric old houses and old buildings fascinate me too.
on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
i remember taking rolls and rolls of film back in the days when there was actual film. 200 seems to be about the average.
from our first trip to Haleakala here on Maui… i think it’s good at illustrating our favorite travel activity…hiking. BUT it also shows how we try to clean up the trails when we come across unsightly litter… in this case a very tacky visor. and those aren’t sunburnt legs, it’s red dust from the crater.

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
our cameras have been mostly of the Canon Powershot variety. We recently upgraded to a Canon Digital Rebel. we usually take both on our trips. we burn up our little point-and-clicks though. they get a lot of use. i usually travel with a sketchbook–i make my own because i have specific needs when it comes to sketchbook design. see my now defunct site also i have this wonderful little pencil sharpener/eraser combo that i bought in berlin many years ago that has stayed with me. it has a little door to slide over the sharpener so you don’t get pencil shavings in your bag.
what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
upon returning home, there’s a scramble to put things away. i like to just get it all sorted and then i can relax. we usually put up some kind of slideshow online within a month after returning, it takes that long to edit the photos.

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
candy and chocolate–usually because of the packaging.

the little orange doghouse was outside a hardware store in Bologna, Italy 1998. i thought it was super cute and it delighted me to uncover the pic after all these years. and i thought our desing-minded readers would like it too.


website :: john giordani graphic design

blog :: cuckooforcoconuts

CLICK HERE for more from past editions of Boarding Pass!


  • Whoa, fun seeing all those shots of my hometown, Albuquerque. We really do have a fantastic range of old motel signs, if I may say so myself.

    And I’m glad to finally hear of someone else who likes air travel! I also love the energy of airports– I even find myself a little on edge when I go took long without some time in an airport (like these days, for example). -X

  • Hi Xander. Thanks for jogging my memory. Yes, that particular trip, my second x-country road trip, ended in Albuquerque. We tried to follow Route 66 most of the way. That was in ’96, i love how the motel prices were so cheap. In fact, that’s always the figure in my head when i think of motel prices so i’m always shocked at how expensive they are now. i mean, comparatively anyway.

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