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Newbie needs advice

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by oc63rag, May 7, 2007.

  1. oc63rag

    oc63rag Member

    May 7, 2007
    I realize there will be many opinions on this but here goes:

    I'm interested in starting a sign/banner/display graphics business. I'd like to start out of my garage until I can afford a commercial location. I want to keep costs down but I don't want to go so cheap that I miss business opportunities due to my equipment.

    With that in mind, what would you suggest for:
    Printer (indoor to start and then move up to solvent?)
    RIP (absolutely necessary or grow into one as color management needs dictate?)
    Graphics software (I already have Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
    - I'd like to do vehicle graphics. I've seen the turnkey packages (vehicle templates, graphics, etc.) that Feller's sells. Are these worth the money?
    I have access to ink and media through various contacts so I can keep costs down on these items.

    I realize there is no "one size fits all" solution but I'm just looking for some basic guidance.

    Please let me know what you think.
  2. Jackpine

    Jackpine Major Contributor

    Welcome to the group.
    I use CorelX3 graphic suite, Flexi and have a Graphtec 24" cutter and a Mutoh Falcon Jr printer and all the other stuff you will acquire along the way including "The Big Squeegee". So That is what works for me. Ask a lot of questions to suppliers and equipment dealers will help but you will make up your own mind what may work for you.
    Last edited: May 7, 2007
  3. Checkers

    Checkers Very Active Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    Are you going to be working at it full time or will you you build the business while "maintaining another source income"?
    I would start with a business plan and invest in a good cutter. You won't go wrong with Roland, Garphtec, or Summa, all come with some sort of "bridge" to run the plotter right from Illustrator. Gerber equipment is good too, but you'll need sign industry specific software to run it.
    I wouldn't worry about buying a printer, laminator, etc. until you understand the basics of the industry and get your pricing and policies down to a solid system. Until then, find a wholesale source to provide you with printing, etc.
    From there, just about anything could go.

  4. Craig Sjoquist

    Craig Sjoquist Major Contributor

    Jun 18, 2004
    welcome to agreat forum n a bunch of ppl using ut yes indeed ...
    anyway I would get software 1st become well versed on that before you buy printer whole new learning curve have other shops in area to do cutting and printing for you ...
    learn design 1st and install ...
    this way you build a reputation and customers
    freedom is not free
  5. Pro Image

    Pro Image Major Contributor

    Nov 28, 2005
    Howdee from VA................

    I also agree with the other here........................
  6. oc63rag

    oc63rag Member

    May 7, 2007
    First of all, thanks for the replies. It's awesome that you guys have formed such a helpful community. I'm planning on working at it part time and my wife will be working at it full time. That will take away some of the financial risk. My background is in sales/marketing and my wife is very creative so hopefully we will compliment each other's skills.

    I'm planning on putting together a business plan outlining the markets we'd like to target. I'd like to start with 1-2 niche markets and go from there. My focus will be on service and quality. I'd like to charge more than current street prices and turn the work around faster.

    Are there major risks involved with buying used equipment like printers? I have friends who are HP/Roland dealers so I think I'll be able to get decent rates on service and parts.

    I'll be back with plenty of questions.

    Thanks again
  7. Flame

    Flame Major Contributor

    Apr 26, 2006
    I'd suggest getting your hands on some software first. CorelDraw X3 is probably an awesome start.

    Play with it for a while, and then buy a package deal if you can find one for:

    - a 24" NAME BRAND plotter
    - Atleast 8 colors of vinyl, 15" or 24"
    - Cutter software (such as CoCut)
    - essential tools (squeegees, knives, weeding tools etc.)

    Then build a table, get a cutting surface on it, setup a computer connected to your plotter, and away you go....

    Don't buy a printer until you can efficiently run a plotter. Otherwise you'll totally lose your mind trying to figure the thing out. Outsource your printing until you're big enough to afford a printer, and well versed enough to know how to RUN ONE.

    That's my $0.02

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