Coming for Gold



The Gold Rush of the 1840s and 50s and the subsequent population boom that occurred is probably the most famous era in the state's history. Beginning with the debate over California statehood and concluding with the growth of San Francisco as a major West Coast port, COMING FOR GOLD continues the "collaged universe" approach that began in SPANIARDS CLAIM THIS LAND.


The mid-nineteenth century was the heyday of mass produced wood type, and authentic samples from the Walden Font Company proved quite versatile for this section's titling. A hand-rendered weight shift allowed for emphasis and contrast within phrasing. From this gallery section on, the primary language reverts English, with Spanish in the supporting role. A distinct yet complimentary typeface was selected for the Spanish titling, as if two different voices were overheard in conversation.

It's exciting to produce content that has never been visualized before. In this case, the written record of debating the proposals for California's admission into the Union exists, but according to the curator, no one had ever drawn these options out as actual maps before.

Prop reproductions add an extra level of visual detail to the stories we are telling. Broadside reproductions and these sacks of flour are just two examples. Often we try to credit those who helped us on the project in unique, hidden ways. Mr. Miller in Los Angeles supplied us with the reference material for the typography on the flour sacks, so we named the fictional company in his honor.

This map demonstrates how settlements and stage coach routes literally followed the gold. Typography accurately reflects printed samples from the period.

CLASH OF CULTURES was a digital interactive for which I supplied assets, visual standards, and creative direction to the kind folks at Frontera Studios. The experience allows the visitor to imagine life during the Gold Rush period through different lenses of race, class, and gender.

The cigar store Indian artifact needed to be presented in a way both true to its original context, and how it is viewed today by Native Americans as a symbol of cultural appropriation.

Another tribute was to Drew Johnson, the photography curator on the project; he became the proprietor of the portrait studio.

These flip panels for the HOW MUCH COULD YOU MAKE? visitor interactive continue the collage language established for this section in the Gold Rush Miner Journals.

PEOPLE MADE A HOME IN GOLD COUNTRY features the museum's famous Dikeman Kitchen artifact diorama with a digital projection of an actor playing Mrs. Dikeman. When prompted, she tells stories of what domestic life was like in Gold Country. The background mural was painted by Stacey Ransom. Media installation by BBI.

INSTANT SAN FRANCISCO presents the astounding growth and settlement of the Bay Area in the 1850s and 60s. In order to place the museum's cigar store Indian in context, a daguerreotype of an intersection in downtown San Francisco, shot at street level, was enlarged and direct printed onto wood at roughly the same scale that the statue would appear from across the road.

Clapboard paneling gives way to charred edges, contributing to the story of the city's first Great Fire of 1849.