Sign & Digital Graphics

February '18

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • February 2018 • 69 ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL It's All About the Base Designing a monument sign base that's more than just a platform Since 1985, Matt Charboneau has owned and operated Charboneau Design and Consulting in Davenport, Iowa. He is a con- sultant and designer for monument, chan- nel letter and pylon sign projects. His book, "The Pre-Sale Sign Survey Field Guide -- The how-to guide on sign surveys for the profes- sional sign salesperson" can be ordered on his website: or by emailing him at Matt@ B Y M A T T C H A R B O N E A U Designing Award-Winning Signs direction you are taking it. However, the crazy thing about this design is that you are torn as to which type of base to use and how to design it. For this monument, the base has to be differ- ent—something unique but not problematic to build. But there are some considerations that must be addressed so that the base design provides a solution to the sign design rather than creating a new problem of its own. Where to Start: I like to start the base design process by asking one very important question about the sign's proximity to the general public. Will there be foot traffic anywhere near the sign, such as in a parking lot or sidewalk area? And if so, will the base present temptations for teens to climb or hang-out on? You may be saying to yourself, "Who cares about this aspect, really?" Well, it's only a non-issue until it becomes a skate- boarder's hangout because of the cool, low-sloping curved top of the base (that you designed) which makes it the perfect ramp and rail for practicing their Ollies. (See Image 1) I realize that you cannot possibly plan for this sort of misuse and or abuse of sign property, but how about overcoming the liability by designing it into an opportunity. Let's look at how we might possibly incorpo- rate a shopping centers' customer lifestyle into the design of the base. Perhaps the monument sign is for a shopping center with lots of foot traffic, and the sign is located right smack dab in the middle of the parking lot and walking areas. A problem if you do not want your sign to become a jungle gym. However, it's an opportunity if there is perhaps to be an organic food store or an athletic/outdoor gear store where their customers' buying habits are based around healthy lifestyle choices. In this scenario, you might explore the integration of a bike rack or some park-style bench seating built right into the base to add a unique value-added benefit to the space that the sign base occupies. (See Image 2) Where your creativity jumps in is how those benches are built and integrated into the base of the sign. If it were a ski rental shop, you could use old skis to build the bench and bike racks and incorporate natural materials from the area such as moss rock and stone to finish off the design. I t's 9 p.m. on a Saturday and you find yourself struggling to come up with the finishing touches on a monument sign concept presentation that's due for a Monday morning review meeting. Considering you were given little to no graphic guidance or influence to work from, the design of the 30' tall shopping center sign is pretty darn clever, and the developer likes the Image 1: Their intentions are innocent; they just want a cool place to ride, to hang out, and to meet friends. The newly installed 20' tall monument signs' sloped-top brick base (that you designed) makes the perfect rail for skateboarders to practice their sport. Your sign becoming a teen hangout may not be what the management company intended. With some advanced planning, you can design a monument base that takes advantage of patron foot traffic and reflects the interests and needs of the shopping center's customers in a creative, useful and functional way.

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