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Discussion Have ya gotten the feeling......................

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Gino, Aug 7, 2019.

  1. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Have ya gotten the feeling, that making signs anymore has nothing to do with really making signs, anymore ??

    In other words, for the younger people, it might not make sense and looked at as old farts just griping...... but it's not, not really.

    Years ago, you hadda make thumbnail sketches, pitch your drawing, then make it. Literally make it by hand. If your sign was gonna be an oval, you literally had to create an oval, by hand using tools and string and pencils and then hand cutting it. Rectangles, free-form shapes, the same way. You hadda first draw it, then cut it out. We didn't have computers to calculate sizes, shapes or patterns..... WE were the pattern makers. Afterwards, you needed to paint, stain, coat out or whatever to the panels and go from there to make a nice finish on your substrate. Most electric sign faces started out as clear, so not much ever came in ready-to-go. Then, we either transferred out drawings onto the substrate or made a neon pattern or welded a box together..... or mixed up the ink for screening a coupla hundred signs 2 or 3 colors. Nothing was ever done digitally. In fact, that words wasn't even invented, yet.

    It's a new generation and progress keeps moving forward, but it sure seems more like craft class than a sign shop to me.

    So, as the pattern makers slowly drop out-of-the-picture and die off..... ya might wanna think to yourself.... how would I make this, if I didn't have all these gadgets ??
     
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  2. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    Why, progress rarely receeds. Why at any point would I have to think about alternative manual processes?

    As a business owner, not an artist, I just don't understand the need to hold on to old fashioned. It's simply not efficient, repeatable, or scaleable.
     
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  3. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

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    I'm 31. Owned by business for 10 years. I'm young. I'm a business owner before an "artist" I have a degree in Degree in Design and Business. With that said - there are much more efficient ways to do things now. And i can tell you it does take much less talent than it use to. Now a days, you can suck at design, but be very good at software and get by. I think now a days it's more about who's more innovate over who's the better designer. How do we put ourselves over our competition. Everything is much faster than it use to be. The general overall expectation has changed in the past 20 years. Everything is now now now. To be 100% honest, i rather be creative with growing a business, then sitting here drawing on notepads. But you're 100% right that talent has fallen. I couldn't draw a circle, but I can compete with the best in illustrator, and i rarely design anymore.
     
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  4. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    I still draw things out with a 4B pencil or a fountain pen with carbon ink. I like it better than a computer.
    It is more efficient for me. But I never considered myself to be a business person either.
    But when AOC cuts the electric off on us all before 12 years is up, I will work by candle or just during the day.
     
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  5. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I have a slightly different take on this.

    Now, I am of the younger generation, but still had analog when growing up (little older then Adam). I learned to do embroidery (and animation as well) by hand. That was drawing the pattern directly on the substrate, marking stitch angles and stitch direction and type. Now, I will say this, that has made me a better digitizer, knowing the earlier methods. While software and tech make it easier for just anyone to get started, that's still up to a point with what they can do and get done. Did the same for pattern making clothes as well.

    Do I long for the days of yore? Hell no. Not with all of the variables going on today. Do some still make a go of it? Sure they do. Unfortunately for me, I don't have Hand & Lock's their client list. Power goes out, I'll call it a day when it comes to embroidery unless it's sketching out patterns to be digitized. Animation, I would probably still do that all the way through if the power was out.
     
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  6. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    When the power goes out...

    I turn on the generator.
     
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  7. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Well, I wasn't talking about the power going out or wouldn't you wanna go back to those days...... just that the pattern makers are dying off.

    We hadda create everything from scratch more or less. Nothing wrong with technology, except, now, at our shop.... one printer alone, takes the place of about 10 or 12 guys of yesteryear. The other printer maybe 8 people. The cutters can do the work a man could do in 5 hours in about 15 minutes and every 'o' and every 'e' is absolutely perfect. Nope, I'm not complaining, just comparing work of old to an arts 'n' craft show today.
     
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  8. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

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    Gino, i have a feeling you have pencils older than me.
     
  9. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    My kid is about double your age. :doh:

    Yes, I have equipment that's older than me. Doesn't make it unusable. Had a guy in here last week, ask me about a piece of old equipment I hardly use anymore. He said when I wanna sell it, he'll buy it, no matter what the price. Oh boy, oh boy.
     
  10. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    I started in this business when vinyl lettering was just starting to take over from hand painted. And I appreciate the technology and the things it makes possible. However, the influx of young people who view it as just another business to milk for profit and have no connection to the end product will be the demise of the sign business. When a sign is nothing more than the cost of a piece of substrate, a few milliliters of ink, and a few minutes in a machine, then you have made it where there is no purpose for signmakers. The fact is that signs serve a purpose, and they actually perform a function for their owners. They are an important part of a business (a brick and mortar business, that is) making money. They advertise, they market, they send a message, they attract customers. They serve the business owner's vanity and the community's sensibilities. They are not a commodity like toilet paper, which also serves a function on its way to being discarded, but has no great value beyond that.

    The onset of computer aided signmaking has been a boon and a bane, though as we oldsters fade away it seems it is rapidly becoming more of a bane. The kinds of signs I see being turned out nowadays are a blight on the landscape, and because they are being produced by people that view them as a commodity, they do an inferior job at their purpose. The attitude that the only goal is to turn them out faster by doing less work results in everything being worse for everyone. Maybe that's why I always preferred SignCraft magazine over Sign Business...
     
  11. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

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    you're absolutely 100% wrong. It won't die, it will only grow bigger. Technology is making it easier for people to get things done more efficiently and accurately. Will the whole "art" of sign painting die.. yeah i think it already has.. but the sign industry will not die. In the 50's-80's Large format companies didn't have hundreds of employees per company as they do now.
     
  12. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I don't view this as only a "youngster" issue. I can't tell you how many times I've heard (from those that of that older ilk) say "take them money, turn out what they want and call it a day". That contributes to the blight.

    Now maybes it's them and they are on the way out, don't care it's the younger generations problem or what. I don't really know what their reason for it and I don't really care. Part of that contributes to that so-called blight as well.

    This seems to be a common thread in a lot of industries. There was a time that embroidery was considered a premium product, now it isn't (even digitizing alone was a premium part of the process, now there are people (that complain about this very thing in their industry) want me to do it for free). You have people wanting to do embroidery for give aways and for really cheap price points. Same thing.

    Another issue that I see when old timer's are complaining about the art is fading away. Are they really contributing in any way to help keep it going or are they just setting back and letting it die (or fade away)? Won't be able to stave it totally off, but every little bit helps.

    I love what I do (in that regard, I'm probably a lot like the old farts) and don't like what my industry (and other industries that I'm apart of) are coming to, but I also try to pass on what I know (I'm probably one of the few that teach methods that are closer to the old way of doing things then what most OEM vendors are doing).
     
  13. ColoPrinthead

    ColoPrinthead Swollen Member

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    When I get the rare chance (or choose to take the work) to do REAL design and not production art, it always starts with a pencil and pad of paper, gets revised several times, then scanned and digitized. I cringe thinking about the work of making custom text and respect those who do it regularly.
     
  14. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Why complain? Just do your best and set yourself off from the rest. People complaining are not going to change an industry and it's going to go wherever it goes no one is going to stop it. Just roll with the times and do what you feel is right.. if you're good then people will buy from you.
     
  15. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    Agree. That's what I do. But when you see people on here telling everyone that all they need to do is churn and charge less (except of course for exorbitant design and rights fees) and even the whole outsource everything people (why do you suppose there are large format factories employing hundreds of factory line workers?) it really makes it hard to pass on the craft.

    We are all in the business of visual communication. And we all ought to aspire to communicate in the best way possible. That serves our customers and our communities.
     
  16. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Now, that's something I've been saying for a long time around here. :banghead:
     
  17. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    au contraire

    In some trades, what was once old is now new.

    Take a look in the local want ads and see how many people are crying for help from an old school "manual machinist". Around here, they cant throw out the money fast enough in hopes of landing a skilled metal worker. Most kids today have never even cranked the handle on a mill or a lathe, much less had to make manual trig. calculations for a particular machining operation.

    There are plenty of job shops and large manufacturing plants, still full of manually operated machinery in need of skilled tradesmen, but they're few to be found. Most high schools, and even some colleges have disemboweled their trades programs for the more favorable and sexy high-tech. fields that attract students (and plenty of tax dollars).

    JB
     
  18. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

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    It's not limited to the signs. Micro industries have spawned from every type of business and craft out there and supply the stuff that used to have to be created by hand. Who turns post tops or bannisters anymore? Restaurant chains getting frozen pre-prepped food shipped in. It's all about winning an endless race to nowhere. My 2 cents on this rapid increase in productivity is that it will create more unpredictable and shorter economic cycles as time goes on because demand can be fulfilled quicker and quicker.
     
  19. HulkSmash

    HulkSmash Major Contributor

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    Such a blanket statement, especially people like me who have worked hard to get to where we are. People turning the crank are just going to eventually be out of business. That's a raw fact you have to accept. Those manufacturing plants will very likely go out of business, for the sheer reason of parts for those things will stop being sold, and people will stop being trained for such dated things. Why would a 30 year old go crank a lever for 10$ an hr, when they can flip a burger for 15$ an hr. Sorry, not sorry.
     
  20. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I don't know how much longer burger flipping is going to be a viable option though.

    Given the recent vogue of licking food that's destined for other people, might cause it to be sooner then later.
     
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