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Why does it always have to be difficult?

Discussion in 'Fonts and Typography' started by SellersSign&Design, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. SellersSign&Design

    SellersSign&Design Active Member

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    One of my good fire department customers asked me to come look at lettering a new side by side utility vehicle they bought. No big deal, they want the department name on the bed sides and the hood, done in either Sign Gold or possibly real gold. So I look at their other trucks to see if the same font has been used on all of them so I can match it and of course, the Pierce fire truck font strikes again. Pretty much all of the other trucks have this exact font on them done in the Pierce style real gold with vinyl laminate. I knew from previous run-ins with this font that there is no way to get it, apparently Pierce keeps it locked away. Some people aren't real particular about fonts matching exactly, but it bothers me especially when it involves fire trucks. So I spent quite a bit of time today tweaking the Flange font into what I needed. It would really be nice if someone would digitize some of these old fire truck fonts, I'm sure plenty of people would pay good money for them.

    The original lettering on one of the trucks:
    photo (7).jpg

    What I came up with:
    ROBINSON LETTERING.jpg
     
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  2. SignosaurusRex

    SignosaurusRex Major Contributor

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    Pierce is only protecting their interest. I don't blame them. If someone else is gonna be called to do the work and match the rest of the fleet, Pierce wants you to work for it ...and work hard. They did not get where they are easily.
     
  3. player

    player Major Contributor

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    I didn't look at your samples side by side but it looks like you nailed it.

    Is there not a font co. that has those old fire truck fonts? LHF?
     
  4. SellersSign&Design

    SellersSign&Design Active Member

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    I agree with you, I understand they want to protect the font they developed. If I could just call Pierce up and order the lettering it wouldn't be a big deal, I would just sub the work out to them and then do the install. But they want somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500 for two sets of door lettering. I realize it is real gold, but there is no way it is $2500 worth. So the only option that leaves people like us is to sit in front of the computer and tweak some other font into what we need. The worst part is these Pierce fonts have made their way onto a large number of trucks, at least in my area. I was trying to match lettering on a Seagrave truck a while back and come to find out it had a Pierce style of lettering on it. How does that happen?!

    Oh and Player, no these fonts can't be found anywhere. Letterhead has similar fonts which look great, but they don't match. The biggest things that set the Pierce fonts apart are the R's, the slanted serifs on the E's and F's, and the big differences in the thickness of the strokes in the letters.

    Sorry for the rant, it just seems like every time I get really busy someone asks me to match one of these fonts. But I will say, you have to give credit to the old timers who originally came up with these fonts before Pierce digitized them. They truly are beautiful when you see them in gold on the side of a fire truck.
     
  5. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

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    Actually, what bugs me the most is the insistence on using abbreviations.
    Why they always abbreviate the most important word...VOLUNTEER...is beyond me.
    I can paint anything, so the font part is not a problem.
    Personally I am so over dealing with fire departments that I could puke.
    All that money spent on the truck and they expect you to letter it, in expensive materials, for cheap.
    Love....Jill
     
  6. SellersSign&Design

    SellersSign&Design Active Member

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    I know abbreviating is against every rule in the book, but abbreviations are pretty much a tradition on fire apparatus. Don't ask me why, but it is very common. I don't really question it or try to change it. But I definitely know where you are coming from on the being cheap thing. This department I'm working with now understands what quality is, but I have dealt with some
    that refuse to understand why I won't use 3 year imitation gold leaf on their trucks.
     
  7. player

    player Major Contributor

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    How long does non imitation gold leaf last on a truck?

    Do you consider real gold vinyl imitation?
     
  8. SellersSign&Design

    SellersSign&Design Active Member

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    Real hand laid gold leaf has an unlimited life as far as I know, as long as it is put on properly and then protected with some form of sealer. The few times I have seen it coming off of trucks has been due to the top coat peeling and taking the gold with it. The Sign Gold or Real Gold brands of vinyl are technically an imitation, but they are at least real gold laid over vinyl. They are supposed to last 12-14 years. When I say imitation gold leaf, I mean the metalized polyester that is basically aluminum foil colored gold with a pattern in it. That stuff may go for 3 or 4 years if you are lucky. After that it turns silver, then black, then falls off. Pierce uses a process where they hand lay gold on some form of vinyl, spin it, and then protect it with a vinyl over laminate. It looks just like traditional gold that would be applied directly to the truck, and technically it is except for the fact that it is sandwiched between layers of vinyl to make installation easier. Some of the more experienced people on here can probably give a lot more information on this subject.
     
  9. Ken Sankey

    Ken Sankey Member

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    I thought I might jump in & offer some thoughts to your problem, or so it is to you. What you are looking at is a font that is derived from a history in the fire industry going back generations. As anyone who has swung a brush especially in the fire industry would know that cities have long decorated fire equipment as part of community pride. Gold leaf has a long history & yes, is still alive and well today. Many here who have experience & talents running software, printers, routers may not have the skill to create an alphabet or characters. I happen to be a designer/painter in the very dept. for which you are speaking of. We often get this from vendors, dealers inquiring as to purchase our hand created fonts. I'm not understanding of your dilemma. Back when the business for the most part was paint, I wouldn't run the the competitors shop across town & ask for his paper patterns to letter his style letters on a van or truck. It merely would have been up to ME to draw the sign to what was desired by the customer. I'm trying to gingerly apply an idea that this trade has parts of it which have disappeared. I define myself as an "alphabetical engineer". The alphabet has simple building blocks to construct characters & can be learned if one desires. I've spent hours scouring books, literature & have a deep desire of this trade as well as adapting to the software driven business that it is today. I operate a freelance design business & could assist you if needed if you wish to pm me I'd be happy to talk to you. But enough complaining about Pierce, its refreshing that they care enough about a small niche of "art" to keep it alive & well today where others would not. I hope this came across well by no means am I trying to be disrespectful I enjoy much of the talents shared here by all.
     
  10. Ken Sankey

    Ken Sankey Member

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    In reply to Jill, sometimes abbreviations make for balance on the cab doors. Arcing the top line with city name then fire dept. or fire dist. for the lower line. I'm not a fan of Ruby Red scotchlite with black next to it either but seems to be a hit in the fire industry. Red/black get pretty dark on surfaces hard to read. Just like any other part of the trade its driven by what customers are asking for. It will amuse you that we deal with many of the same problems. Bad artwork, matching work from photos, its all the same. Its all good though. I love this trade & can't imagine doing anything else. I do get to use a brush yet which is priceless. Sorry if I've hijacked this thread. As far as $2500 for a set of doors, I wish we got that for it sounds pretty inflated price wise. Again, pm me if you have questions.
     
  11. SellersSign&Design

    SellersSign&Design Active Member

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    Your comments are greatly appreciated and were definitely not taken the wrong way. I don't want to come across as complaining about Pierce, I have always bragged on their top notch graphics. As far as I know Pierce is the last manufacturer to still offer real gold done in house on their trucks (correct me if I'm wrong on that). I guess I was more or less venting because of the no win situation I end up in just about every time I run across one of these fonts. The department doesn't want to pay for the Pierce gold leaf, and then they don't want to pay for me to hand draw it to match. So in order to keep customers happy I basically have to hand draw it for free. Then comes the task of explaining to them why I refused to put the cheap 3 year gold leaf on their truck. I really don't even like Sign Gold, the spins don't line up in the letters and that bothers me. I guess all of this stuff bothers me more because 1) I am a firefighter so I have that sense of department pride built in to me and 2) The majority of my business is fire department graphics so I deal with these problems more than some. But again, thank you for your comments and I apologize if I came across as bashing Pierce or their graphics department. That was definitely not my intentions.
     
  12. SignosaurusRex

    SignosaurusRex Major Contributor

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    Welcome to the "Love of what you do" side of this industry. :wink:
     
  13. player

    player Major Contributor

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    I am not going to be a sucker... I am getting paid for what I do, or I don't do it. Sometimes
    it is not broken out on the invoice, but I get paid for my time and expertise.

    Very similar to musicians. Establishments want bands to play but do not want to pay.
    It seems like there is always some amateurs waiting to play the gig at 1/3 or 1/2 the going rate, albeit badly for the most part.
     
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