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Starting out!

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by skunkplow, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Nov 14, 2007
    Hello all!

    My name is Jeremy. I am 29 years old and I live in East Tennessee. I am about to take the plunge and open my own sign making shop. All my life I have been artistic and articulate to details. I have a pretty good idea of what looks good grapically. I have expeirience with autocad, and drafting on a table. I can draw well pretty good too.

    I do have experience making signs, and using a vinyl plotter/cutter.

    Now for my questions:

    I have 11,000 dollars saved to invest. I am leaning toward this machine:

    http://www.beacongraphics.com/pro-imager-system.html

    My questions are:

    1. Would you recommend this machine or the brand?

    2.Could I use this machine to cut the sandblast vinyl? Or would it wear the machine out to quickly?

    3. How well does autocad interface with vinyl cutters?

    4. Is the vinyl sign business a good business to do part time?

    5. Any books you can recommend about sign making? I have quite a few art books already. Please include any good books about owning your own business to.

    6. Where can I learn about copyrights. For instance, if a buddy wanted a "bowtie" cut out for his new silverado, would/could I get in trouble? What if I "modify" the image ect.

    7. What commonly unseen "niche" markets have you discovered that are profitable? I like the idea of vechicle wraps, but I can't afford that right now.

    8. In what ways do you add diversity in your business so you don't get stuck in a rut?

    And most importantly:
    9. Is sign making a rewarding business? I know there is a lot of overhead costs, but I sincerely think I could be great at this.

    I have a name picked out which is "Sacred Heart Graphix". My business plan right now is basically to appeal to the local merchants and shops. I plan on plastering my truck (painting it "old school" flat black, with my logos in lime green and red) and buying some advertising in my local newspaper/trade paper. I don't expect to make any profits for a little while, and I'm going to talk with my lawyer about all the legal issues.

    Right now, I will be operating in my basement.

    Anyway, this is a great forum. Your help will be greatly appreciated!
     
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  2. Shovelhead

    Shovelhead Major Contributor

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    :Welcome: to :signs101:

    You'll be disappointed to find that AutoCAD has no relevance to the sign world...
    maybe except to open a file supplied by an architect (choke...excuse me :cool:)
    to drop on a digital print for a site sign or for mechanical renderings.
     
  3. wildhock

    wildhock Member

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    Welcome Jeremy.

    Not sure how long you have been lurking around signs101, but you will find answers to many of your questions if you search the forum boards.

    Regards,

    Jon

    :Welcome:
     
  4. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Nov 14, 2007
    Thanks!

    BTW, I used to have an ESP JH2! Stupid for getting rid of it!
     
  5. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Well, the reason I like autocad is because of the things I can do with it like polar arrays. I have used Corel some, and it wouldn't be that hard to become an expert with (atleast I don't think!). My idea is to use Autocad to draw some of the intricate detals, and then open up the ".dwg" files in corell if I have to.

    I already have a copy of Autocad, so it's not like I would be wasting time or money using a correll/autocad combo to make some designs.
     
  6. thesignexpert

    thesignexpert Active Member

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  7. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    1. Would you recommend this machine or the brand?

    My experience with Roland has been good, I have one but I prefer my Graphtec. On the Ultra Flex software...I'm assuming that is the Beacon re-packaged Flexi-Sign software...I would avoid store re-packaged. If you are going to stay with cutting,start with a bridge software, if you might get into printing, then start with the lower versions of Flexi, Signlab or any other name brand softwarethat has a RIP.

    2.Could I use this machine to cut the sandblast vinyl? Or would it wear the machine out to quickly?

    I have had the most successcutting the thick Hartco stuff on a Summa T-Series.

    3. How well does autocad interface with vinyl cutters?

    I can count on one hand the uses I have read that use Auto-Cad for vinyl cutting. Auto-Cad is a great program, but clumsy and cumbersone for graphic design. If you have mastered Auto-Cad, then you should be able to pick up Corel or Illustrator very easy. I personally use Illustrator/Adobe Creative Suite and have the CadTools (www.hotdoor.com) plug-in to do all my design and drafting...but I have CorelDraw lying around too

    4. Is the vinyl sign business a good business to do part time?

    Depends.....usually a good idea to start part time till you gett used to the software and equipment.

    5. Any books you can recommend about sign making? I have quite a few art books already. Please include any good books about owning your own business to.

    Do a search on books on this site. There are hundreds of books...I highly reccomend a subscription to Signcraft magazine (www.signcraft.com)

    6. Where can I learn about copyrights. For instance, if a buddy wanted a "bowtie" cut out for his new silverado, would/could I get in trouble? What if I "modify" the image ect.

    There are books on copyright, but none that I know of that will help you deal with grey areas. There is a ot of crap around the internet about changing a design a certain percentage and you will be okay...you may not be...it's a side by side comparison.....if you are truly artistic, you should have no problem designing your own images....don't touch the trademark stuff....

    7. What commonly unseen "niche" markets have you discovered that are profitable? I like the idea of vechicle wraps, but I can't afford that right now.

    Who doesn't do vehicle wraps...everyone does vinyl, I'm in a niche market....start cutting vinyl, if you like it you will drift into your chosen niche or your clients will push you into one.

    8. In what ways do you add diversity in your business so you don't get stuck in a rut?

    Keep up with design and keep up with marketing and business. If you clip-art your work, and you are easily bored, you will get tied of it real fast. One rut is the bevel/effects rut....it's okay to season your work, but take it easy on the effects

    And most importantly:
    9. Is sign making a rewarding business? I know there is a lot of overhead costs, but I sincerely think I could be great at this.

    It is for me....

    "Sacred Heart Graphix" loose the Graphix with the "x"...pleeeeease!!!!

    Oh and it seems like you may be a rodder/lowbrowhead, there is some inspirational work on "Sketchkult", "Kustom Kulture Lounge" and "Gigposters"...nice "original" work...
     
  8. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Nov 14, 2007
    Thanks everyone!

    Rick & T.S.E.: That is valuable!

    I have one more question right now. Do you all see a benefit of buying a 30" cutter over a 24" cutter?

    I figured it would be a little more versatile to have a 30" and in the long run I would save more money.

    PS, the "X" in "graphix" is cheesy... You are right.
     
  9. Poconopete

    Poconopete Very Active Member

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    How many 29"+ letters/designs do you plan on cutting?
    Rethink the red on your black truck, use white, orange or yellow.
    signcraft.com IS NOT SECURE at this time.
     
  10. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Well, that's not my main desire to have a 30 machine. I was thinking along the lines of being able be more versitle printing width wise with my vinyl as opposed to length. To me this makes more sense, as I wouldn't be wasting as much vinyl.

    Inputs welcome.
     
  11. GregT

    GregT Very Active Member

    Welcome to the forum. Ditto to everything that has been said already.
     
  12. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Why are you opposed to the red BTW? Red letters/designs on matte black is one of my favorite color layouts!

    For example:

    [​IMG]

    That gets your attention everytime!
     
  13. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Red on black is a common error among inexperienced designers. Most with very much exp. will all agree that this is a poor combo that has far too little contrast and bleeds together visually...use the ol' squint test on it. If you must use red and black, try separating with a contrasting color, often times white is used. However, used incorrectly (usually too thick of a stroke of white) and that is just as bad IMHO. I know I know, red and black are used all the time in some corporate designs, but that still doesn't mean that it works!
     
  14. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Welcome from PA...............

    You'll get more responses if you open a new thread with your questions.
     
  15. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    Valle Vista
    Can't comment on the red and flat black since you are also using lime green also.....I'm interested in seeing your logo ideas, especially if it's the lowbrow/rodder style. One thing nice about a 30" plotter is you can cut 24" material....if you can afford it, get it....
     
  16. Bulldog1929

    Bulldog1929 Member

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    Mar 30, 2007
    WElcome from SE Ohio. I like Sacred Heart Graphix.
     
  17. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    Welcome from BC.
    I dislike Sacred Heart Graphix.
    Apart from the "X", there is the religious connotation. It may limit your clientel. Is your town called Sacred Heart?..wondering ..oh sorry, you are in Decatur..
    A 24 inch cutter will take you a long way. For a part time gig, from the basement..a 24" machine will serve you well. Roland, Graphtec.
    I've said it before, and I will repeat..I love to drive around my area and see the work that I've done..if find that very rewarding...
    Even if it is not the latest version of corel, you should have that in your arsenal. Photoshop and Illustrator also. Watch out for the learning curve though..trying to learn all the software simultaneously is..mind boggling..was for me anyway..still not very good with Illy, Corel seems more natural.
    Good luck...Ken
     
  18. Custom Signs

    Custom Signs Member

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    Longview, TX
    One thing you didn't mention is pricing, that was a big problem for me when I got started. It seems that the sign shops in my area are all over the place with pricing. On some things they are about the same and on other things their pricing is very different. I would suggest that you purchase GraphixCALC Pro and stick to its pricing. I think it is good to be consistant on your pricing! Also, I am a Part Time in home sign shop, have been for about 4 years and I love it. It has been a great second income, but I am working my butt off. But it is something I love doing! Also, be careful posting some of your work to be judged by others, not saying anything bad about the ones who respond, just be ready to listen and take what most of them say. Because I have found out that a lot of the people on here know what they are talking about! Just like the red & black comment. Good Luck!
     
  19. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Oh I don't take offense to any critique regarding suggestions just as long as its atleast done constructively. Saying "that's crap" without giving any reason why is just wrong IMO. I don't care if people call it "crap" just tell me why. lol.

    And yes, Rick was correct in pointing out that lime green will be an accent color.

    As far as "Sacred Heart" as my name, I like it, and I have considered the religious imagery that accompanies it. The truth is I am religious, but more importantly I think the symbol is a powerful graphic.

    [​IMG]

    It's not like I'm gonna be posting a Jesus fish as a watermark on signs that I do.

    Plus I think "Sacred Heart Graphics" has a nice ring to it.
     
  20. skunkplow

    skunkplow Member

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    Nov 14, 2007
    Is this attention grabbing?

    *Not the font, the color combo...
     

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