Intro and question

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Trip Bauer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 1:05 pm
Location: North Florida

Intro and question

Post by Trip Bauer » Thu May 01, 2014 3:46 pm

Hi folks, I'm Trip, located in Northeast Florida. Working on building up a small shop, we've been doing cut vinyl and apparel since we went 'legit' last summer; I'd been doing general graphic design and web development for the prior decade plus. I've done quite a variety of things in my life, most on an amateur level and everything just sort of lined up to move into the industry. We're currently renovating a space to roll out a full screen print shop, but one area I've wanted to get back to was working from a can.

Years ago, before the Navy, one of the 'hobbies' I was most passionate about was reverse glass painting. I have no pictures and I wouldn't wager that more than half a dozen pieces still exist in the world, but it was something I quite enjoyed. With the business came some opportunities I had to turn down because if I can't do a great job, I'd rather not have my name on it and it's been years since I did any. That, and the last issue of SignCraft tell me that the universe is encouraging me to venture back to this and into hand painted work. There are a few pieces I've started on for me, as well as an upcoming project when a close friend replaces his '05 Peterbilt in a few months (wants hand painted and gilded, not cut and stuck).

Now, the real question I have is on lettering, mainly is there any hope for someone who cannot read his own handwriting? Yes, I can run one of the cutters in the shop and make masks, but I'd rather not lean on that crutch for too long. I'd sit and practice writing for hours a day throughout my youth, but I've basically given up, figuring if I'm bald and gray and still can't read it, well, that's what computers are for.

I ventured back into pinstriping a few years back and got comfortable again, but that's quite abstract in comparison and the less intentional it looks the better in my opinion, so lots of room to BS through a design, not so much with typography.

Ordered up a new full set of quills to add to my brush box (which thanks to sticky fingers is embarrassingly bare) and a whole box of cans of brand new paint. Picking up some posterboard and Rust-O-leum tomorrow to make up some practice panels (nice cheap trick I picked up from the pinstriping guys, feels and drags just like a painted surface because it IS a painted surface).

Trip

Mike Jackson
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Re: Intro and question

Post by Mike Jackson » Thu May 01, 2014 9:15 pm

Trip,
There's nothing wrong with making a pattern via a plotter and then hand lettering it.

I wouldn't let your penmanship dictate whether you can hand paint a sign.

Good luck,
Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
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Lee Littlewood
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:36 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Re: Intro and question

Post by Lee Littlewood » Fri May 02, 2014 12:52 am

Welcome to you, Trip.

I'm not sure I see the problem here - you don't really use your handwriting when you are lettering. The English call it "Sign Writing", but I've always thought of that as a target to shoot at more than a description. Americans call it "Sign Painting", and most of the work really is done in a deliberate way, often with built-up letterforms. In most cases the definitive tool is the brain, and the pencil - you are working with your fingers and brush to fill out a shape. "Sign Drawing".

(Now for the "other cases" - any single-stroke letter, be it a casual or a script or a gothic or a slab-serif. These are where you are 'writing' with the brush, and they are particularly good at showing differences between writers. But they sort of come to you - after making lots and lots of letters, you find that some of them feel more natural and have become your default shapes. Yes work on your single-stroke, but it is hard, because there is no place to hide - every mark stays. A built-up letter has a lot wider comfort zone, a bigger selection of shapes, and is what you need for the headline.
It used to be great fun to come into a small town and look at the signs and try to decide how many painters were in the neighborhood, based on layouts and color choices and especially the style used for body copy, their personal style.)

anyway, long story short, don't worry about your handwriting, you've got bigger problems to solve. But if you can handle a pinstriping brush and can draw with a pencil you will be fine. Oh yeah, and don't forget to practice the Basic Line:
"Yeah, the (paints/brushes/customers...) used to be so much better ten years ago" until you can roll it off smoothly.
where am i? Now, when i need me...

Trip Bauer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 1:05 pm
Location: North Florida

Re: Intro and question

Post by Trip Bauer » Fri May 02, 2014 11:54 am

Thanks! A bit of encouragement can go a long way. This has been one I've gone back and forth on in my head quite a bit, it's not quite like vinyl, couple seconds to peel up a mistake, so it has perhaps an artificially inflated intimidation to it. Yes, I know it can be wiped off, but not always... like the disaster of red pinstriping on a white fender last fall that yielded a new paint job for my bike as I was opposed to the pink I was left with :)

Supplies should be in today, I'll jump in with the practice charts as soon as the paint dries on the posterboard. Bought a little bit of time on the two glass projects I have lined up, as the wife and I are debating the number style chosen for the transom, and I think we've switched out the entry door design, switching to the family crest/COA instead of the original idea and the few references I have are going to take a while to clean up and re-draw properly.

Regarding the computer, I kind of felt like masks would be cheating, though I completely thought past the use of a pen to just prep the outlines, which is how I used to do most of my previous work (though that was tracing paper, light box and felt tip, pre-computer). Perhaps that's a happy compromise that I can settle in my mind.

Bob Sauls
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: Intro and question

Post by Bob Sauls » Wed May 07, 2014 3:19 pm

Trip, I am in Tallahassee where are you. Been at this since 1980. Started with paint then moved to vinyl and paint.
Glad to have a foot in 2 worlds. I have recently picked up the quills and been practicing 1 stroke in earnest and it is really helping.
go to my website and sent me an e-mail I'll reply with a very helpful tool for you.

www.saulssigns.com

Trip Bauer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 1:05 pm
Location: North Florida

Re: Intro and question

Post by Trip Bauer » Thu May 08, 2014 8:57 pm

Thanks Bob, will do!

We're out just south of NAS Jax (wife's last duty station).

It's funny, but we started with vinyl and had plans to go to paint, and shortly after getting up and running, we found ourselves doing more shirt orders than anything else. We built on that and were planning to set up a full screen shop, but over the last couple of months I did some really deep thinking. I was always excited and enthusiastic about the business, but I felt a toll being taken and less enjoyment day by day. I realized last week that everything in the last few months had finally sunk in and I was really just excited about being in business, not about what I was doing. Well, I already have one of those 'job' things (several actually) and debated on just closing things down, saving the annual filing fees and whatnot and getting back in the hobby mode.

Well, that's not going to happen, but a shift in direction definitely is. We'll still do cut and stick when asked, we'll still do some apparel and promotional work, but I'm not going to focus in on it or really dig for sales; mainly just continue to service existing accounts and consider new ones.

I've paid up operating expenses for the next year out of pocket (no jaw dropper, it really wasn't that much) and plan to focus the majority of my time and energy into practice. Paint on paint, surface gilding, reverse glass, and because I can (and possibly only for fun)....neon. We discussed it and essentially set a goal of not trying to sell any work of these varieties until Jan 1 2015, forcing the time to practice.

It may work out, it may not, but I'll have fun doing it and the day jobs cover the bills. Any work we do will just roll back into supplies and equipment. Time to get excited again, but for the right reasons and for reasons that will last long-term.

Trip

EDIT: Thought about it for a few and wanted to clarify... I was in no way trying to say that this wasn't work, wasn't a career, etc. or suggest that this venture was a hobby. Merely that if I'm going to put the effort into a business, then I want to do something I enjoy rather than show up and trudge through the day just to get a paycheck. The area that half my present income comes from is diminishing year by year, I'll be lucky to bring in half of what I did in 2010 this year. This company is a long term plan, to gradually transition to over the next couple of years, and with luck, be my primary source of income within the next 5-10 years. I was mainly trying to keep it light and temper my confidence with admitting it'll take at least a year before I believe I can do the work at a level worthy of charging for. Hope no one took offense, wasn't the intent.

Bob Sauls
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: Intro and question

Post by Bob Sauls » Fri May 09, 2014 6:09 am

That's an interesting take. When I was starting out at twenty, so eager to be a real sign man (thinking that I was pretty good). My customers
paid for my practice. I suspect that you'll be getting paid for some of your educational advancement too.

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