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Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by SignManiac, Nov 10, 2009.
You're kidding, right? This is no time to be self effacing. Your designs ROCK!
This thread is inspiring ..... I have now been into this sign business almost 3 years now. I am always amazed at the designs that come from this group. I try to figure out all the why's and why-not's of every design and sign I see posted here.
In this area things have been super slow. Sometimes not taking home a check. But I still love this job. I love going down the street and looking at a sign that I created. Coming in every morning is a joy and I always have to make myself quit at the end of the day.
As with my artwork (watercolors) . There is always one more trick to learn. A person never gets to a point where he knows it ALL.
For all the newbies out there. Signs101 is LOADED with valuable info. Suck it up and soak it in. Don't wear your feelings on your shirt sleeve.
This is a great place to learn.
What a great post!
Fred, after 26 years I'm fairly sure that your layout skills are quite good even if you are only doing basic signs as your mainstay work.
I can't imagine you ever condensing Helvetica by 50% or using all uppercase Brush Script on an ark? These are mistakes that newbies make all the time because they were never taught otherwise.
It's easy to make money in the sign business but that doesn't mean you need to make easy money on ugly signs.
Every one of us does simple basic work. Ok, so I don't but...I think most here would love to do the nicer and more profitable fancier work if they had a choice. And they can if they really want to get better at their craft.
You have two types in this business. The ones where its just a job and the others who are passionate about the artistic side. There's a lot more fun to be had being creative rather than just pushing buttons.
That is one of the best posts I have ever read on this or any forum pertaining to signs.
Thank You !
Also, I would love to see your shop some day. What time of the day do your snakes generally take their nap?
I agree completely and I almost always end up doing more than the client expects.
What I was trying to communicate in my own case is that I started out with a taste for what is pleasing to the eye and effective that was reinforced by my original clients. That particular taste includes a healthy respect for the designs of others. So I rarely squeeze or stretch a font and frequently use large font families that include condensed, normal and expanded members for my paragraph text. I also learned early on the value and superiority of hand tracing over auto tracing.
Along the way one evolves like any quality control system evolves as mistakes are made, recognized and improved ... assuming one cares about pursuing excellence. Like you I think that anyone in this profession who is only concerned with financial return and cranks out schlock has no business in the craft.
No truer words were ever spoken.
Thanks everyone, I'm glad I could contribute something positive to the forum. It can only help us all in the long run. The thing that many of us resent the most are newbies who undercuts us on price.
There's two reasons for this. One is they just have no idea what a sign should cost nor how to figure it out on there own. If you take somebody who was once making $10.00 an hour and then decides to start his own sign business and the first job he sells, he makes the equivalent of $25.00 an hour, He thinks he/she has hit the lotto and rolling in dough. Well we all know that to operate a profitable sign company we need to charge a lot more than that. Especially if you want to grow and be able to afford new tools, printers, shops, etc.
The other reason they under price there work is because of quality. If the work isn't up to par, there's only so much you can ask for. So in order to get any work at all in the beginning, it's all based on low price.
If everyone would or could improve their design skills, then we would all be on an equal playing field and price would be a lot closer. The customer would then base his buying decision on which design he liked better, maybe your personality, or several other criteria that's important to him.
The other thing goes back to aesthetics. Next time you newbies are driving around your communities, please take a real look at the signs you see and be honest, are you seeing appealing signs, even the basic ones, or are you seeing a ton of mismatched visual pollution? Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
It is within everyone's capability to learn the basics but you have to want to. Take a few minutes and browse through all the posted signs here and "notice" the signs you like and try to see what it is that makes them different from your work.
One of the best things you can do is design your sign and then walk away from it for an hour, then come back and look at it again with fresh eyes. Learn to see balance. Typing in text on a square is very limiting. Push yourself to change what you've been doing. It can't hurt you really.
Amen Fred! Excellent way of stating that...
great post(s) SignManiac. i really believe that if the noobies new the history of our craft, understood the advancements and the changes that have taken place. they would have a new understanding for the seriousness some of us feel for our trade.
As for pricing, here is our shop break down:
-Cost of goods (raw materials): 25%
-Labor (wages, including yours): 35%
-Other expenses (rent, taxes, insurance, utilities, shop supplies): 30%
Now we can use a simple math to figure price by 4 times the material cost (according to our shop break down) For instance, a simple 18x24 .040 aluminum sign, metal cost $9, vinyl cost $3, $12x4=$48. We should get at least $48 to be profitable. (plus design time if more elaborate).
SignManiac, Fred and others: Very well stated. I thought I knew something about layout until I started on Signs 101. Sitting back watching layouts get the once over, and some a lot more, has taught me a great deal. I've bought and read the books recommended, and I keep a couple of them on my desk for "refresher courses".
I still find it hard to believe that there is such a giving community as Signs 101 where you can get opinions and geniune help from all over the world with a few key strokes.
Newbies, be thankful for the honest opinions as they come from a great group of dedicated professionals trying to raise the standards of the sign industry
Great post. and so true. i'm not even to the point where i feel compelled to throw my designs on here yet, but i DO hold them to what i've learned and seen on here often.
I listened to Jillbeans, and bought the Mike Stevens book, even bought Dan A.'s first book as well. I reference them all the damn time.
This place is priceless, imo. As soon as my cutter left the basement for a shop setting and my printer was on order(this spring), i paid for a subscription and spend every extra minute i have reading, learning, and trying stuff.
You SHOULD throw some of your work up. Just don't take anything personally and you'll be fine. My guess is generous people like Jill and the others will often show you by example how you could improve on your designs as long as you're willing to post something first as an example. By showing an actual effort on your part.
It helps everyone when you can see several different approaches to a design problem. And I know that those who decide to contribute benefit just from the exercise.
Great post. Yes it Should be a sticky!!.
Good idea Jim. Consider it done.
AGREED! The computer has been a blessing and a curse.
There is so much garbage out there now, so little nice to look at it becomes the norm. We're doing our best to change it.....
"The one thing that disturbs me most is the planetary infliction of visual pollution that has ruined our communities. I'm all for laws that will punish the graphically challenged because it has gotten that bad."