Artist: Corey Lee Fuller, MFA
Growing up in western Oklahoma, I spent a lot of time traversing the state via I-40 and Route 66.
Highway signs and billboards for motels, diners, and gas stations became a familiar and entrancing part
of the landscape. The colors, typefaces, and visual tropes of those signs became imbedded in my
subconscious at an early age and still inform much of my work today.
As I studied graphic design in college, I came to understand the process of design as “problem-
solving”—connecting a message to a viewer in an effective and memorable way. Then throughout
graduate school, I became familiar with the world of semiotics—the study of signs and symbols. This gave
me a new vocabulary and theoretical framework to understand the simple, yet profound, function of a
sign. I came to learn that signs are more than just advertisements protruding from the horizon, but rather,
powerful containers of meaning. Signs can speak in a direct way but can also carry connotations; they
can be harbingers of the literal and the abstract.
In my current work—while I’m still interested in design as clear communication and problem-solving—I’m
more interested in creating work that challenges the traditional function of a sign. This has led to new
experimentations with type in terms of its formal qualities, even divorced from meaning (if that’s possible).
My newest project involves the creation of a billboard which holds “signs” that I’ve designed and hand-
painted. They are merely surface, in that the referents do not exist; however, the billboard itself is indeed
real and can be seen daily by weary travelers buzzing from left to right across the US, via I-40 and its oft-
forgotten predecessor, Route 66.
Corey Lee Fuller earned his Master of Fine Arts in Design from the University of Central Oklahoma. He
currently teaches at Oklahoma Baptist University where he serves as chair of the Division of Art & Design
and also holds the Ruth Jay Odom Professorship in Fine Arts.