Sign & Digital Graphics

October '14

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Don't Be a Sign Zombie Keep your relationships with customers alive and kicking I might be looking for trouble, but these days I'm working diligently to avoid horror-filled scenarios and high-tech angst. Yet, stuff still happens. Recently, as I spent days painting the huge roof sign in the mid- dle of the Google campus where I suffered mightily as a bleary-eyed "roof dog," several other sales oppor- tunities began to lag. I had been email-tagging with Skycatch, an upwardly mobile San Francisco company, without meeting them in person for far too long. In a sense I was stalling for time because I was so pre- Steven Vigeant owns Berkeley Signs, a commercial sign company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. Visit his website at BerkeleySigns.com or contact him at Steve@BerkeleySigns.com. B y S T E V E N V I G E A N T Looking for Trouble MASTER'S TOUCH occupied with a physically demanding job and I was perilously close to losing their confidence. Fortunately I had landed the referral from the pre- vious tenant for whom I had worked for several years. I made a few zoned-out attempts to keep the contact alive by working up renderings of their logo, which I placed digitally on their building in different sizes. In a case like this, when I am unable to provide "actual" quality service, I will attempt to "virtual" them with a few impressive comparables in the hope that I might nurse along the impression that I, alone, am the one person on earth who can possibly provide them with what they need. The logo proof they sent me was a generic vector file with a couple of PMS colors indicated. There is a lot of competition for simply rendering a logo as a wall sign. I've heard that there are hoards of dime- a-dozen out-putter zombies out there who have had their imaginations snatched up, and now believe that, "I am nothing without my computer, it is futile to trust my own instincts!" I'm not pointing any fingers, but I just can't stand having good opportunities dumbed down to the zom- bie-droid level. The best way to stand out from this unseemly situation is to offer the client some sort of judgment, knowledge and taste, which will add up to a profitable and satisfying sale. At one time I lacked all three of these traits. I believed in the lowest common denominator, and for years I was undead for sure, take my word for it. To make good things happen, I have to be on-site with real people in real time. If I know the client wants dimensional letters, I will show up with examples of letters I have previously ordered from Gemini and letters that I have made from wood or HDU. At first I didn't know what they did at Skycatch, but as it turned out, I was brainstorming ideas with an engineering genius who had many opinions about their brand that I needed to hear directly from him. I did know from the outset that the sign would be "just the logo." In theory, I'm not "designing" any- thing, but there are still many design decisions to be made regarding size, placement, finish and texture, to name just a few. It is not so different from an interior designer who needs to help their client pick out wall 76 • October 2014 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Here I asked the question: Is it better to plot and pounce a pattern, or should I project and trace the image directly on the wall? Unfortunately my projector recently went poltergeist on me, which forced my decision. I learned two definitive lessons. Number 1: Large lettering is easier to plot because everything stays straight. Projecting works, but on large lettering fixing distortions can become dis- tracting and labor intensive. Number 2: Small complicated art would be easier to project and trace on the wall.

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