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Discussion in 'Polls' started by Fred Weiss, Nov 22, 2004.
So who are you in the sign business?
An Environmental and Traditional Graphic Designer that happens to make signs.
I went for the second one, but to be exact I am a full-time graphic artist employed by a graphic screen printing shop, duties include setting up artwork for screen printing and making signs.
My husband and I also own our own t-shirt screen print/sign/glass business with a shop at our home. Duties include everything. He is full time there and I work there (which is equal to more than full-time) after work and on weekends. But ahhh, someday...
I'm a full time graphic designer who also sells, quotes and makes signs. I can do just about anything needed to be done from setting up a corporate package with logo design and all that is needed to reproduce it in any form to installing stud mounted letters to a wall. I like that the shop I work for is small enough that I'm able to do more than one type of job. I'ts fun to design a logo and then make it yourself by hand. As the designer, I think it comes out better that way as I'm the one who really knows what it should look like.
I chose the one listing signmaker for a gov't agency. I work in a New York State signshop. I started by painting boards, sweeping floors, progressed to screen printing, now I design and letter all the signs that come out of our shop.
We do mainly all the signs, not DOT, from Canadian border to Long Island. Our signage consists of ID signs for various campgrounds, Fishing Access Sites, Boat Launches, State Forests, etc. We also take care of the total signage for a ski center in the Catskill Mountains.
I just got done lettering 64 new state vehicles with reflective markings, something we usually do every year.
I started a part-time business in '99 nights and weekends, allowing me to experience different aspects of the sign business, and hopefully learn and grow with this field. This site and members have been a big help for me in my home business.
Full-Time Graphic Designer for large Sign Manufacturer
Owner small sign business...
Vinyl and install sub contractor for my full-time employer....
best of both worlds
Funny how I got started, retired from the Sheriff's Dept, moved up north, needed a wood stove, when purchasing that, noticed signs being painted, told the owner if he ever needed help, let me know, a month later, he called, I painted, and learned the sign trade (thought I knew it until reading the comments from this forum );
Anyway, owners sold the stove business, moved sign business downtown, they started up another business....and I learned, and learned, and learned, mostly sandblasing and carving HDU, got a plotter, and stated doing vehicles, coroplast, and etc...
and here I am...incidently , I started painting for them in 1992...they've been in sign business since 1978...
An under contract IBM sales rep who got into the sign business as a side job. What was I thinking must of had too much time on my hands? :Big Laugh
It's great and the last year has been very rewarding. I can't wait to finish my contract and move forward full speed ahead. Too many late night hours right now
Five years ago I convinced my boss that our little 4 man store fixture distributing business could be building the signs we had been outsourcing if we simply bought a shopbot router.
And a plotter...and a laser engraver, and another plotter, and 4 wide format printers, and a laminator, a herd of computers, and enough software to choke a rhino.
This year my little 12 man department has grossed over $1 million. I've sent installation teams to at least 30 states. And we've already tied down enough work for next year to give us a 50% boost in revenue.
If any of you guys want to move to the left coast, CALL ME, because I had no intention of running a sign business. I could use an experienced hand. I'm just a cabinet-maker who came up with the right idea at the right time.
So the moral of my story: If you can't open your shop next door to Office Depot, open it next to a store fixture supplier... just not mine.
Very inspiring to be sure! I'm a bit north of you in WA state doing my thing out of my home - detached 20x36 shop though - as a part-timer at the moment. My primary day-job is as a Mechanical Design Engineer working in Aerospace (not Boeing, though). I like my job and all the benefits, but still yearn to own my own thriving business. I'm not the best employee as such cuz I don't follow the corporate mindset and am not very PC. Don't get me wrong, I show up everyday and am dependable, I just don't want to do it for someone else's bottom line where I have no real vested interest.
After 44 years of this crazy thing called the sign business, I currently own and operate a small wholesale neon shop in North Carolina. I enjoy the weather here much better than in the cold northern Adirondacks. I occasionaly do some hand lettering just to keep in practice.
My first taste of this business was in the summer of 1971, when, as a lark, I purchased a vacuum forming machine and made magnetic signs. That's before anybody ever thought of vinyl letters or magnetic sheet. To my pleasant surprise, I found I had a knack for it and made more in three months than my fulltime business was making me in a year. Circumstances prevented me from a career change at that point.
Twelve years later I made the change and was no sooner setup when Gerber released the Signmaker III. I got one and never looked back. The business started getting requests from other shops to cut letters for them and by 1986, wholesale was all we did. At its peak we employed six people, had more than 1000 shops around the country buying from us and were producing an average of 5000 letters a day.
Along the way, we developed the Scrappy Friction Feed Adapter for Gerber 15" plotters; wrote the first program for identifying unknown type styles; became a type dealer and developed logo and clipart for the sign trade. Ultimately we sold the vinyl cutting part of our business to a key employee and did some other things for a while.
We purchased a Gerber Edge in 1998 and built a retail sign business around it that does fairly well. We continue to develop clipart for the sign trade and will shortly be releasing a full color print and cut collection.
Thirteen months ago, Eli Browning, for whatever his reasons, walked away from this forum he had started .... handing the keys to me. And for whatever reasons I accepted the keys and have watched, with no particular effort on my part, the membership and activity here grow from 450 members to 1401 at this writing.
Interesting responses so far. No a single sign supplier or manufacturer???? C'mon .... I know you're out there. And what did I miss that we have 7 votes for "Other" at this writing. If you're not a signmaker, a manufacturer, a supplier or at least thinkin' about getting in the business .... what is your interest in being a member here?
Oddly enough, I'd still rather be guessing people's weights and ages at the carnival but this is pretty solid year-round income as opposed to a weather dependant, economy reliant grind of a lifestyle that won't support two kids and a wife . . . can I really like being a guesser that much?
My family has owned a screen printing operation since 1975. I worked there until the mid 80's typesetting and doing illustrations. It's hard to work with family so I decided to go to work for one of the cities largest pre-press companies. When the Mac killed the pre-press companies in Chicago I had enough and went back to school and earned a technical degree. I worked in telecommunications as a software engineer for the last ten years until that industry tanked. So I've come full circle, back to the family business. I brought a few new things to the old shop like cutting vinyl and rubylith for some of our newer customers. We are also developing some of the typefaces that we used to hand draw 20 years ago into electronic fonts for the PC. Seeing how the market for these is pretty tough we're not sure if we are going to sell them or not. My dad is getting close to retirement and this may be too much for me to get my arms around by myself, so I don't know how long were going to be around. Might be time for another career change.
You should, IMHO, look at this as a terrific time to publish fonts. You can market them very reasonably yourself via the internet; market through dealers and organized marketers like Agfa's Creative Alliance or Bitstream's MyFonts.com or a host of independent developers and marketers of type; or you can license to a publisher and collect a royalty.
He who dies with the most fonts wins.
Thanks Fred that's something to think about. I'm fast approaching another fork in the road and am trying to weigh my options. When I worked in engineering I always worked for someone else. Since I went back into graphics I only have myself to out fumble. I kind of like it this way, so I'm trying to figure out what I can do by myself if I find myself alone next year.
I'm actually a full-time employee with the Federal gov't. A G-Man ) or is that an "F-Man"? DON'T SAY IT! I've heard them all....
I work for the National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior. Surely you've heard of places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, etc.? Well I don't work at any of them. I'm at an "urban National Park" in Massachusetts replete with all the joys of a medium sized city. Why do you think I live in New Hampshire?
Anywho, my full-time work has mainly been in the graphics, desktop publishing, networks, database management (MS SQLServer) and web master(ish) department. I've been at it for almost 20 years.
At home I've always been a computer "nerd". When I was looking for something else to use my graphic art skills on and perhaps make some money at the same time I happened upon a brother-in-law that had purchased a Roland cutter...the rest is history. I bought a Summa D60 2 years ago and a Versacamm this year.
I'm making a go of it but I'm not anywhere near ready to vacate the job with benefits. It seems to be either feast or famine. I'm not complaining. If I actually advertised I'd probably get overrun. This way I can ease my way into it, pay some bills and see which way I'd like to go in the future.
I am a full time at home sign maker. Sacramento. It's going as of now, but over the past 9 or 10 months it was hard to keep work coming in. I got over it and now I get quite a bit of referral business. I really want to get a cnc router. Just a Lynx 24" for now, though.
I'm a graphic designer at CBS 4 in Boston. TV is fun, but it's stressful. I've been a designer for 7 years, starting in Providence, RI while still in High School working nights and weekends. College, and school in general wasn't my thing, but for some reason, learning the Mac came as natural as holding a paint brush, and for me, graphic design was going to be my way. I've always talked about owning my own business, and I'm obsessed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats, and have been airbrushing motorcycle helmets and bikes since i was 12, so when I put it all together, I figured out the sign thing. Sea View Sign & Design has been in business for 10 months. I love it and can't wait to do it full time. Hopefully soon!!!
Sea View Sign & Design