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The How-To Magazine

O c tober 2017 | signs h o m

road warriors SIGN BUILDER


Full & Partial Wraps Rev Up Sign Shops

3D identity, ADA installs, & more

How To: What Motivates Buyers?

Post-and-Panels: Find the Best Design Strategy

Wall Graphics: Transforming Interiors

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Contents October 2017

Vol. 31

No. 268


How-To Columns



By Jim Hingst Buying decisions are based on a number of different factors.


8 10 54 56


Signs of mobility! Editor Jeff Wooten observes how the “mobile-friendly” mindset is changing the world as we know and experience it.


New LED video screens for MSG Networks, and Daymond John to deliver USSC Sign World’s keynote.

Sign Show

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk


Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. David Hickey discusses how peer-topeer networking helps solve sign challenges.

26 30 38 42 46

46 2

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017



By Jeff Wooten A full list of benefits in offering partial wraps to customers.


By Jeff Wooten Fans and creators are mesmerized by a colorful car wrap.

GRaphics in full bloom

By Brenda Murphy-Niederkorn “Glam Gardens” event blossoms with floral standees.


By Jeff Wooten Transforming an interior environment with wall wraps.


By Ashley Bray Preparing a tasty three-dimensional project.


By Lori Shridhare Demanding signage and quick turnarounds for changeable markets.


By Mike Antoniak Careful considerations guide the design of effective postand-panel signs.


By Lori Shridhare Locating monumental signage projects.

​Cover Photo: 3M™ SV 480mC non-PVC film.


Matched Materials. Outstanding Results. From decals to wraps, save time, money and aggravation by matching the correct digital film and laminate. Rely on the ORALIFE Component System™ Warranty for guaranteed reliability and performance of your outdoor digital prints.

Photo courtesy of: Gran Turismo Graphix Products shown: ORAJET® 3551ra and ORAGUARD® 293

What are you looking forward to seeing at this month’s SGIA Expo?

October 2017, Vol. 31, No. 268 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Subscriptions: 800-895-4389

executive offices President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher Arthur J. Sutley 55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7247 ; Fax: 212-633-1863

editorial Editor Jeff Wooten 323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212-620-7244 “My colleagues in the sign industry. I always look forward to meeting face-to-face at industry events!”

“The educational sessions look tempting this year—particularly those devoted to pricing graphics (the unsung art of this industry).”

Managing Editor Ashley Bray 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7220

Contributing Writers Mike Antoniak, David Hickey, Jim Hingst, Brenda Murphy-Niederkorn, Lori Shridhare

art Art Director Nicole Cassano Graphic Designer Aleza Leinwand

production Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers

circulation Circulation Director Maureen Cooney

advertising sales Associate Publisher/East Coast Sales Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233

“Soft signage and its many applications—apparel, banners, tradeshow graphics, etc.”

Mid-West & West Coast Sales Monica Boutros 212-620-7225 Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Art Sutley at 212-620-7247 or e-mail


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

Editor’s Column


By Jeff Wooten

October 2017 OCTOBER 10-12:

SGIA Expo is taking place at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. (

OCTOBER 18-20:

The Mid South Sign Association’s “New Ideas, New Possibilities” networking event happens at the Embassy Suites in Huntsville, Alabama. (


The Arizona Sign Association Tabletop Trade Show will be conducted at TopGolf in Scottsdale, Arizona. (

Signs of Mobility

What a “mobile-friendly” world means.


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

In Fantasy Football, experts advise to avoid “chasing last week’s points” when setting your team’s line-up this week. In other words, don’t take a player’s prior production numbers and expect the exact-same results the following week. Instead study and plan for upcoming match-ups and play to those strengths. Sears, J.C. Penney, and Toys ‘R Us are all reporting financial troubles, taking too long to adjust to the mobile-friendly party. And Blockbuster Video has practically gone the way of the dodo bird by not taking the threat of streaming seriously until it was too late. These retailers fruitlessly hung onto yesterday’s “points.” It’s important not to fall into this trap when running your surely-mobile-friendly-by-now sign shop. Identify upward trends (and you’ll probably use your mobile device to so.) As one example, a recent ISA and InfoTrends report finds the demand for wide format print applications is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent between now and 2020. No chasing last week’s points here. Correction: In “Tower-ing Achievements” (September 2017), the Web site address for Signs By Benchmark should have read:

Jeff Wooten Editor,


The automotive SEMA Show rolls in to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

November 2017 NOVEMBER 30-DECEMBER 2:

USSC Sign World International is scheduled to be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (

February 2018 FEBRUARY 22-24:

Graphics of the Americas 2018 will commence at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. ( Photo: Shutterstock/ SFIO CRACHO.


enturies from now, when the ancestors of our ancestors are busy studying the evolution of the human form via timeline diagrams, I’m fairly certain that they’ll notice that heads began permanently tilting downwards sometime this era. Seriously have you looked up to notice how many people look downwards today? While dining out recently, I’d bet that nearly 90 percent of the patrons were, at some point, looking down at their smartphones—while much of the service staff was in a corner thumb scrolling. I even have an acquaintance whom I only recognize by the top of his head because he is always immersed in his mobile device. For better or worse, smartphones have changed lifestyles. Everything now revolves around a “mobile-friendly” world. I won’t venture now into whether or not we’re too dependent on this technology in our everyday lives, but I will point out that the sign industry is catching up to it. Mobile-friendly is now more common (even expected) in wayfinding. And manufacturers are releasing more apps that allow easier shopping for hardware and supplies, the ability to manage projects remotely, and the opportunity to create and share design ideas on-the-go. Honestly how many of you saw this revolution coming years ago? Running a business is all about foresight, recognizing the future now and not getting left behind later. That’s where mobile-friendly succeeded...and it’s how your shop can succeed too.









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In The Industry USSC Sign World Keynote

B New LED Video Screens:

Penn Plaza


ew York, New York—Sansi North America (SNA) Displays, a manufacturer of custom LED display and lighting solutions, recently provided an integrated LED display system for regional cable and satellite television network MSG Networks. The project included four same-sized integrated video screens and curved LED-backlit channel letters for the MSG Networks brand. The project site, located at 11 Penn Plaza, is across the street from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. The high-rise is also home to Macy’s and AMC Networks. The bustling intersection is visited by up to one million people per day. SNA Displays provided the four LED S|Video™ displays mounted outside of the building’s tall windows. Each singlefaced video screen is 9 feet 5 inchesby-9.5 inches and 432-by-432 pixels. The display system includes a total of nearly 750,000 pixels. The display installation is the first in New York City to employ exterior video screens with a 6.67mm pixel pitch, meaning the center of each pixel is less than a quarter-inch from an adjacent pixel. With such a high pixel density, MSG Networks is able to produce crisp, clear content on a relatively small canvas. 8

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

“We are proud to be the first company in New York City with dynamic displays of this technology and clarity,” said Gerard Passaro, MSG Networks’ senior vice president, network, and technical operations. The project also called for “MSG NETWORKS” channel letters backlit with LED lighting technology. There are two sets of the branding signage, both of which extend from the building and curve towards a point about twenty feet from the building. The channel letters are positioned twelve feet above grade and are fully integrated into the display system, allowing MSG Networks to adjust its branding element to complement the content on the LED displays. “We were honored to have been chosen to work with MSG Networks on this project,” said Dennis Hickey, president of SNA Displays. (Note: Hickey, a product of New York State, moved the company to the heart of Times Square in 2015 to better meet the demands of the Times Square market.) “I’ve watched games on MSG Networks my entire life, so I was excited to have the opportunity to work with their team. We look forward to a long partnership.” New York City-based Landmark Signs built the project’s channel letter signage and installed the display system.

ristol , Pennsylvania— Daymond John, best-selling author, groundbreaking entrepreneurial expert, founder and CEO of FUBU Clothing, and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, will be delivering the Keynote Address at this year’s USSC Sign World International on Friday, December 1, 2017 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A self-made multi-millionaire, Daymond John is the personification of the American Dream, a rags-to-riches story that has served as an inspiration to millions. He pioneered the art of integrating fashion, culture, and music years ago and used this model to evolve himself into a cutting-edge business strategist. Daymond will share with sign makers attending this Keynote Address the strategies that have made him a success over the years. He will also teach audience members how they can apply his successful methods to their sign companies, improve their employee morale, increase productivity, and optimize the talents of their staff. For further details, call (215) 7851922 or visit

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Sign Show ACRYLICS/PLASTICS Announcing the Acrylic Signage Series from Howard Industries Howard Industries recognized a need to provide retail sign companies with a streamlined purchasing process for furnishing acrylic interior signage in medium- to large-scale projects. By utilizing the series’ predetermined designs and sizes, customers can simply choose their color combination, provide a message schedule, and leave the rest to them. Choose from Sonic (pictured), Skew, Sweep, Stenciled, or Silhouette Sign Series Designs and provide your customers with comprehensive interior signage solutions today.

ADHESIVES/TAPES Banner Ups Peel and Stick Keder for SEG Signs is Available in Eighty-foot Spools E. L. Hatton Sales Co., has announced the availability of Banner Ups® KederTape, an adhesive-coated keder that can be press-applied to fabrics for insertion into aluminum Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) frames, making distinctive backlit or frontlit signs. KederTape adheres permanently to textile fabrics, allowing anyone with textile print capabilities to get into the SEG market without investing in sewing equipment, operators, or maintenance staff. Simply peel and stick to the textile edge. Unlike sewing, KederTape is repositionable so users can achieve the perfect size and tightness without risk of ruining the graphic.; SGIA Expo Booth #3504

DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES Mimaki USA Introduces UCJV Series UV-cure Cut-and-Print Devices The Mimaki UCJV Series is available in two models: the four-color UCJV150-160 and the UCJV300-160 that can accommodate up to seven ink colors. Four-layer printing, for example—color, white, black, white, color—available on the UCJV300-160 model, offers an enhanced print capability that allows designers to build layered, transformative graphics for backlit applications. This gives print service providers the opportunity to offer something unique—a dynamic graphic that “morphs” its image or color scheme depending on the light source—while maintaining low operational costs and reducing production time.; SGIA Expo Booth #1231

DIGITAL SIGNAGE Intelligent-M2 is Designed for Applications Requiring the Ultimate in Outdoor LED Display Intelligent-M2 from Optec Displays is engineered to offer unsurpassed color uniformity, enhanced color depth, and clear-focused image quality. The innovative Intelligent-M2 display module combines a slim, elegant design with the ultimate in picture quality. The modules fit together directly both vertically and horizontally, offering increased flexibility in shape and size, providing seamless scalability. With its rugged IP67 rating, 1.15 quintillion colors, ultra-bright +-10,000 nits, and sharp resolution—10mm, 16mm, and 20mm options—the display solution is ideal for use in very bright outdoor locations and environments, even in direct and prolonged sun exposure, while also adjusting to surrounding light conditions.

FABRICS Top Value Fabrics Expands Its New Latex Performance Textiles Line The new line of latex-coated fabric products from Top Value Fabrics, specifically engineered to utilize HP Latex Technology, can be utilized for SEG frame systems, high-end retail, P-O-P, banner stands, backdrops, roll-up displays, tradeshow exhibits, and interior decor. The media in this high-performance line is constructed with a superior print-receptive treatment for maximizing the beauty of printing with latex ink technology. After imaging, these fabrics are designed to provide outstanding color consistency, excellent image sharpness, and a wide color range. Several of the fabrics are built on similar constructions of best-selling fabrics in the company’s Direct Print Textile line.; SGIA Expo Booth #2155


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017


Sign Show led modules/tubes/striPS New SloanLED Solution Offers a Potential 250 Percent Energy Savings Over HID The application-based driver solutions for SloanLED’s PDL MODUS and PDL3 MODUS HO (high output) make it the ideal downlight luminaire replacement for canopies, parking structure/surface mount, and high-bay applications that require targeted light from unconventional heights. The product includes an ultra-high light output of 23,000 lumens while maintaining a slim and lightweight profile. With such, PDL MODUS anPDL3 MODUS HO is available in a wide range of operating lumen levels and mounting kits that will work in countless applications. PDL3 MODUS HO is an IP68-rated, globally compliant lighting fixture with a leading efficacy of up to 147 lm/W, easy installation, and virtually no maintenance.

ROUTERS/ENGRAVERS Trotec Adds the MOPA Laser Source to Its Product Portfolio Trotec is now offering the MOPA fiber laser source as an option for its SpeedMarker galvo laser marking systems. Since certain plastics are more difficult to mark with a conventional fiber laser, a MOPA laser can be adjusted to mark with shorter pulses (between 4 and 200 ns), which provides a much wider range of laser parameters; more options for creating high-contrast, homogeneous markings; faster, corrosion-free annealing marking on metal; and the ability to mark colors on some metals and plastics (particularly those that are darker in color).; SGIA Expo Booth #2569


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Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

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Sign Show VEHICLE WRAPS The Blue WrapGlove Exclusively for ORAFOL The WrapGlove™ brand is well known among the wrap installer community to make vehicle wrap installations faster and easier. The new blue glove with a red wristband is exclusively made for ORAFOL America, Inc., and is available from an authorized ORAFOL distributor. Unlike other gloves, WrapGlove does not shed fibers and will not stick to graphic film adhesive, due to its unique fabric weave. Now with WrapGlove, there are no worries about contaminating the adhesive or transferring oils from your skin. The WrapGlove is easy to care for by washing in cold water and line drying. (888) 672-2251;; SGIA Expo Booth #233

VINYL FILMS/SUPPLIES Made in the USA! New Phthalate-free Range of Calendered Films from American RENOLIT American RENOLIT Corp (ARC) is stepping boldly into the future with a range of calendered films that contain no phthalates. The new phthalate-free films use a plasticizer that is based on an entirely different chemistry, which has been rigorously researched, developed, and tested over the last two years. These innovative products comply with regulations such as California’s Prop 65 and the EU’s REACH and provide the same high quality and reliability as the existing phthalate-based films. This latest investment is part of an ongoing commitment to the U.S. market, which has seen ARC invest over $100 million in refurbishing and extending the La Porte, Indiana plant over the last eighteen years.

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


How To


What Motivates a Buyer?


hen you are wearing your sales hat, a big part of your job is to understand the psychology of the buyer. However understanding the buyer goes a lot deeper than analyzing his business needs. It also requires that you size up their personality. Some flamboyant extroverts are driven by a desire to express themselves. Other buyers, who are more cautious, are motivated by fear of making a bad decision and the need for security. This may come as a surprise to you, but money is rarely the most important factor in making a purchase—even in B2B buying. Basing our buying decisions on dollars and cents is just too rational for a person’s impulsive nature. Of course, nobody wants to pay too much for a product. Buyers usually want to get the most value for every dollar spent, and I will concede that there are a few automatons among us that value money above all. In many cases, buyers with analytical personalities are involved in either en14

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

gineering or finance. Usually the analytical buyer wants to know all of the minutiae of your proposal, especially the financial aspects. Pragmatic buyers, in many cases, are also interested in dollars and cents. For these types of buyers, you need to provide them with a financial justification. In selling fleet graphics, I usually emphasized the lifetime cost of a graphics program because I was generally the high-priced vendor, and I felt that I needed to justify my pricing. What lifetime cost represents is the total cost of owning a product. But when selling fleet graphics, lifetime cost isn’t simply the cost of the graphics alone and the longevity of printed vinyl markings. It also entails the cost of application. Let’s face it, some vinyl films are much easier to install than others. In costing graphics installation, many professional decal installers factor this into their pricing of a job, and, by all rights, they should. Customers who apply their own graphics will also need to consider the

cost of application. While the do-it-yourself method may seem economical, there is nevertheless a labor cost associated for their personnel to complete a job, in addition to the downtime cost for their trucks to be out of service. And when vinyl graphics are especially difficult to apply, the waste factor is another hidden cost, which can be significant if workers are unskilled. I cannot think of any instance where it makes financial sense for your customer’s shop personnel to install vinyl graphics. My argument to someone motivated by money is that professional installation is faster, so there is less interruption of the customer’s business. What’s more, a professional decal installer knows how to do the job right, so this means that not only will the installed graphics look better but there will also be less chance of failure. That should appeal to the buyer who fears failure. While the cost of application is important, many buyers often ignore the cost of removal. When I worked for fleet graphics companies, I found that some vinyl films removed from truck surfaces very easily with little or no adhesive residue. This was a big selling feature because the graphics removal process can be unpredictable, expensive, and time consuming. Many buyers also know the dangers of buying cheap. Who hasn’t heard that you only get what you pay for? The problem of buying on price is that you could be wasting money on something that doesn’t satisfy your needs. If you can discover any dissatisfaction that a buyer has with their current graphics supplier, you have a great sales opportunity. In fact, the bigger the problem, the better it is for you. This type of buyer needs a solution fast, especially if he is answerable to a superior. His motivation is pain avoidance, and while his decision will be

Photo: Carbon Wraps.

Buying decisions are based on a number of different profiles.

How To


fully analyze your proposal. My recommendation is to avoid these people if you can.

Photo: Action Wrap.

well thought out, it will be made without hesitation. Many professional buyers will care-

When I had to deal with someone in purchasing, my proposals were thorough for a couple of reasons. In many cases, a professional buyer will screen you from the people actually making the final decision. When this happens, your only contact with the real decision makers and influencers is your proposal. The first pages of the presentation are a summary of the program complete with pricing. More often than not, it is easier to get any discussion of pricing out of the way early in a proposal. Once you have done that, everything else is a detailed explanation of the program. In the supporting material, you want to accomplish two objectives: (1.) Create doubt in the mind of the customer by alerting him to potential problems if the job is not done correctly; and (2.) satisfy the customer’s need for security with an explanation of how your proposal avoids


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

How To


the pitfalls. In explaining how you will handle your customer’s program, you will want to emphasize your experience in manufacturing and installation. Case studies of complex programs provide the evidence supporting your claims. The goal is to build the prospect’s confidence that you have the expertise to handle their program. If your company has a long history of manufacturing excellence and financial stability, you should use this to your advantage, especially if you are competing with smaller companies. By stating that you are not a fly-bynight organization and have the resources to correct any problem in the unlikely event that some mishap were to occur, you raise a doubt in the mind of the buyer about whether your competitors are capable of the same support.

Fear and the need for security are not always the emotions that motivate a buyer. For those business owners with a great sense of pride in their companies and their accomplishments, good-looking graphics on their trucks and in their stores that satisfy their need for expression and bolster their feelings of selfworth are the motivators. I am not at all insinuating that there is anything wrong with a healthy ego. I am just making you aware that some buyers crave the attention and desire the best that money can buy. These people are usually easy to spot. You can tell what their tastes are by the cars they drive and how their offices are decorated. All you can do is give them what they want. While people would like to believe that all of their purchases are based on rocksolid logic, what really triggers their be-

havior is quite different. You have probably heard that people make decisions on emotion and justify or rationalize their actions with logic. This especially applies to buying behavior. Taking the time to understand the personality of your prospect is the key to determining his or her emotional needs. Learn to ask insightful, open-ended questions to best engage the prospect in a conversation. As self-help guru Tony Robbins says, “If you want better answers, ask better questions.” Improve your listening skills. While the words that the prospect utters are important, you also need to learn the art of reading between the lines of what is said as well as reading body language. Focus on the prospect. Remind yourself that your sales interview is not about you, your company, or your products—it should be all about your customer.

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated




Part of the Solution he goal of a partial vinyl wrap is to generate the look of a full wrap without actually wrapping the entire vehicle. A partial wrap design typically covers anywhere between 25 to 75 percent of a vehicle. These types of wraps have proven very popular over the years, and there are several different reasons for this. For starters, partial wraps are a costeffective alternative for customers, meaning there is less material that the customer will have to buy. That makes it an easier sell! “A partial vinyl wrap allows the customer on a limited budget to still be able to advertise on their vehicle for half the price of a full wrap,” says Matt Richart, co-owner of Digital EFX Wraps in Louisville, Kentucky. (Note: Richart also leads Roland DGA’s Born-to-Wrap workshops,


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

held periodically at several different locations across the country.) Uncluttered designs work best for partial vehicle wraps. “Incorporating contourcut graphics, logos, and matching vinyl into the partial wrap will give you a very nice end result,” says Richart. One of the notable things that partial wraps do is integrate the color of the vehicle into its finished design. “This is done by blending the vehicle’s existing paint color into the color and design of the partial wrap,” explains Richart. Many of the partial wraps that Digital EFX Wraps finds themselves designing and installing are fleet projects. “Instead of spending additional funds to completely wrap a [select] number of vehicles, these customers often take the savings allowed by partial wraps and spread them across their fleet,” says Richart.

He has seen many fleet clients change the colors of their partial wraps to match the colors of multiple vehicles. “Even though each vehicle has a different color, the theme/design of the layout, logos, and text remains the same to keep the branding consistent,” says Richart. It’s still important that the partial wrap “flow” with the body or body lines of the vehicle. “If a partial wrap design doesn’t flow correctly, the entire look of the wrap will be negatively affected,” says Richart. “We always say that if the various design elements of a partial wrap work together as ‘intended,’ then the finished wrap will look clean and be effective.” Partial wraps aren’t just beneficial to customers. Vinyl shops are reaping rewards here thanks to less material to have to handle during production— leading to quicker turnarounds for

Photo: Digital EFX Wraps.


A full list of benefits in offering partial wraps to customers.

stallation and more projects that can be sold, scheduled, and finished. Richart finds that pickup trucks are usually the easiest vehicles in which to design and apply partial wraps. On the other hand, he points out that certain smaller SUVs (such as an HHR) have difficult fenders and moldings to work around, which can present some serious challenges. For these types of vehicles, pay close attention to any distortion in the wrap design, as this can negatively affect the look of the finished partial wrap. “Always plan around these areas and make sure your installers can apply the film without distorting or stretching the graphics,” he advises. “The more bends and indentations you have on any vehicle can change the pitch or flow of the partial wrap.” Richart uses a Roland SOLJET® wide format printer/cutter to output and

stall partial wrap graphics that are consistent and matching. “In addition, if we’re unable to match up a vinyl color to the partial wrap, [we will] print and contour-cut the lettering, Web site URL, or any other information, so we have allmatching prints and custom-cut lettering,” he says. “This eliminates the need to hand-trim any graphics, which significantly speeds up our production and installation time.” While there are many different design possibilities for partial wraps, it’s really all up to the customer. “Their decision determines how you will break your panels down prior to design, production, and installation,” says Richart. Digital EFX prepares the vehicle for a partial wrap the same way they would a full wrap—but with some differences. “The best part of a partial wrap is you can avoid having to wrap mirrors, door handles, and other obstructions, allow-

ing for a quicker, easier installation,” says Richart, noting that full wraps often require dismantling the entire vehicle. According to Richart, the main challenge is making sure the edge of the wrap isn’t compromised. “This is because the top or bottom edge of any partial wrap is part of the final design,” he says. “Stretching or heating the film too much can distort the graphics, resulting in a poor overall wrap job. “This isn’t as much of a concern with full wraps, as the material that’s pulled, stretched, or heated eventually gets trimmed off.” On occasion, Richart sees issues related to incorrect registration on partial wraps. “Some companies don’t have the graphic designed or installed with the body lines, and everything just looks crooked,” he says. “This can result in a partial wrap that looks like a big bumper sticker slapped on the side of a van or truck.” Richart finally stresses the importance of having the partial wrap appear seamless. “Any overlays or materials installed on top of each other can prevent you from achieving a ‘clean’ look,” he says. On the business side of things, Richart advises that, if you’re printing on fiftyfour-inch material, then the partial wrap should be no taller than twenty-six inches; if using sixty-inch material, limit the height of the partial wrap to a maximum of twenty-eight inches. “This will allow you to print both sides of the vehicle in one run, minimizing material waste and saving your client a lot of money,” he says. “It’s a win-win for both parties, because it enables your installation team to produce a quicker install.”

Partial wraps are a good, cost-effective alternative for budget-minded customers.

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Printing to Plastics previously the most popular substrate for printing onto plastics was PVC. It was commonly found on billboards, and solvent and mildsolvent inks did a great job adhering to it via grand format printers. But according to Jim Lambert, vice president, general manager – Digital Division, at INX International Ink Co. (, the type of plastics that can be printed on digitally today are “virtually unlimited,” as well as the type of inks that can be used. He cites PE, PET, and PP as plastics that have really “swept the signage market by storm.” “The trick is to get the correct combination of substrate/surface treatment/ink,” he advises. “This can

be flame, corona, plasma, and/or chemical treatments that will give you the desired result with regard to adhesion and durability or longevity.” On the ink side, UV-curable, LED-curable, and E-Beam inks are proving popular choices for printing directly onto these different plastic substrates. INX International sees the packaging market as an ideal source for direct digital printing needs—think plastic containers that have contoured, irregular surfaces not suitable for a standard label (shampoo bottles, mouthwash labels, wash bottles, etc.). “Brand owners want the flexibility to print directly on surfaces that otherwise would not be

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able to carry their message,” says Lambert. “Digital printing can print in places that would, if forced to use conventional printing or labels, be left void of graphics.” When printing onto plastics, it’s important to repeatedly test. “You must make sure that the plastic surface, the ink, and the desired performance characteristics are ironed out well before starting production. Most of this is accomplished with extensive trial and error,” says Lambert. You must also monitor the process and control the environment (room and ink temperature, humidity, the cleanliness of the surface, etc.) to achieve a favorable result.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

Booth 3751





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rojekt Cars is the professional automotive marketing branch of BAM Exclusives and was established twenty-three years ago to modify cars that help other companies provide exposure for their automotive aftermarket products. Their diversity in custom vehicles range from off-road to exotic to muscle platforms, and they promote them at around thirty automotive events each year throughout the Southwest, including the world-famous SEMA. “We have built over 200 vehicles for booth displays at SEMA,” says Projekt Cars Business Development Manager and Founder Carlos Molina. They were also responsible for providing comic book-inspired cars that were on display at last summer’s Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con, wowing fans and creators with their distinct appearance.


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

This project began two years ago when Molina met up with Guy Caldwell of Garage FX, a company that creates replica movie props, weapons, and costumes for cosplayers to use at comic book and fantasy conventions. Wanting to increase their exposure as well as demonstrate their capabilities, Molina and Caldwell had the idea to custom-modify a car for the annual Las Vegas event. “Something like this had never been [attempted] at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con,” says Molina, “so organizers didn’t know what to expect.” Molina and Caldwell decided to wrap a custom-modified Ford Mustang GT with graphics featuring the popular comic book character Spawn. Projekt Cars first approached its creator, Todd McFarlane, to receive permission to pursue this signature car piece.

McFarlane has made quite a name for himself throughout the comic book industry, drawing fame early on by illustrating characters such as the Hulk and Spider-Man (to name a few). He later co-founded Image Comics where his creator-owned character Spawn has developed quite a fervent following over the past twenty-five years. Projekt Cars was thrilled when they eventually received permission from McFarlane to proceed. The Spawn creator was so excited that he personally handdrew and supplied the digitized comic artwork used in the wrap design. “That was really special to us,” says Molina. The company had a couple of other partners in this project. For example, they sent McFarlane’s files to Josh Daley at Daley Visual, a wrap specialist in Rancho Cucamonga, California, who

All Photos: Jeremy Wright.

Both fans and creators are mesmerized by a colorful car wrap.

implemented the artwork into the overall layout of the wrap. In turn, Daley sent these high-resolution TIFF files to manufacturer Mutoh America in Phoenix where they used the Mutoh Edition of SAi’s Flexi Sign & Print to output the graphics. Projekt Cars has worked with Mutoh America for nearly five years now on various print projects. “They have been a valued partner in providing us with awesome custom tradeshow booth cars at events like SEMA,” says Ryan Arakaki, advertising and events manager at Mutoh America who also does special print jobs and tradeshow printing for the company. Arakaki printed the wrap onto Avery Dennison MPI1105 with 1370Z LUSTER PERM overlaminate at a 1440-by720-dpi high speed via the Mutoh ValueJet 1624X eco-solvent printer. “I think it turned out phenomenal!” says Arakaki. Mutoh sent the panels back to Daley for installation. Two custom-modified Mustangs, a GT and a GT350, were

wrapped for Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con—Daley installed the wraps on one car before the show and on the other during the first two days of the show. “We started with a wipe down/wash of the vehicle,” explains Daley. “Then we removed the mirrors, the door handles, the headlights, the taillights, and the other rim pieces and moldings on the vehicle. “To [achieve] the placement of the wrap, we carefully removed the release liner from the material and laid the material on the car. We then squeegeed down the vinyl, working out all the air and putting the vinyl onto the vehicle.” Once the material was applied entirely over the car, Daley trimmed the vinyl on all the edges and tucked it behind all rubber moldings covering all surfaces and exposed paint. “We then put the car back together, and the job was complete,” he says. McFarlane, who was a guest of honor at Comic-Con Las Vegas, loved the finished wrap and even enthusiastically got

into the driver seat to check everything out. “We even posted a video of his reaction on social media,” says Molina, noting that the wrapped Spawn cars are still touring across the country. “I think the artwork, overall design, and outstanding colors really make this wrap ‘pop,’ but the project was [even more special because it was] truly a team effort involving many people to make it happen,” says Arakaki. For more information about Projekt Cars, visit

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October 2017

GRAPHICS in full bloom “Glam Gardens” event blossoms with floral standees.

Photos: Ignition.


aks Fifth Avenue in New York City debuted its “Glam Gardens” annual spring beauty event three years ago as a celebration of its top beauty retail partners and charitable partnership with The New York Botanical Garden. During the event, floral themes fill the windows and interiors of Saks Fifth Avenue stores, including its flagship on Fifth Avenue in New York City where Saks’ beauty and fragrance brands partner to design unique garden window displays. Ignition (, a full-service visual communications company based in New York City, took the “Glam Gardens 2017” beauty event’s floral theme to new heights this past April with more than 550 larger-than-life five-foot-, six-foot-, and seven-foot-tall flower standees created for display at all fortyone Saks Fifth Avenue full-line stores in twenty-two states and Canada. Ignition chose 1/2-inch Gatorplast® graphic display board by 3A Composites USA ( in the custom white facer/black foam/white facer color combination for double-sided, direct digital printing of giant poppy, garden rose, and daisy standees in vibrant colors. They were printed with an EFI VUTEk UV G33250 LX printer and set into grass-shaped bases direct printed on 1/2-inch white Gatorplast. The Westbury, New York branch of Laird Plastics ( supplied the Gatorplast for the graphic displays. Saks Fifth Avenue chose to complement a striking black-and-white palette—including striped awnings and display backgrounds—with the neon-hued floral displays. Saks Fifth Avenue provided a

eral vision for the graphics, according to Nicole Kronenberger, Ignition’s director of project management. Ignition graphic designers then worked with floral paintings to create digital files for the flower standees. “We went through several rounds of revisions. Our client wanted free-standing displays but didn’t want a chunky base. We wanted to maintain the integrity of our client’s vision,” said Kronenberger. “Some of the store visual managers chose to hang the flowers from the ceiling, so some didn’t have bases. “We created several dozen prototypes to check the stability of the standees within a slotted base that was designed to look like grass. We tested thinner boards but decided on the 1/2-inch thick Gatorplast.” Gatorplast was selected to create the flower standees “because we wanted a lightweight, rigid substrate that would be self-supporting and could be produced with a black center,” said Kronenberger. “It produced exact cuts.” Ignition designers configured direct digital printing of the 550 flower standees in multiples to utilize nearly the entire 48-by-96-inch sheets of Gatorplast. The flower standees were cut with a Zünd G33XL cutter. The flower standees were created, produced, and shipped to stores for display in a tight three-week timeframe starting in late March. That tight deadline was one of the reasons why Laird Plastics recommended Gatorplast for the standees. It could be custom ordered in the white/black/white color combination, manufactured quickly, and shipped directly from 3A Composites’ manufacturing facility.

“The styrene facers can be direct printed on both sides with a flatbed printer. The Gatorplast was manufactured, loaded on the skid, and out the door as quickly as possible,” says Wayne Elliott, graphic specialist at Laird Plastics. “The deadline for these standees was met.” Ignition knew that their Saks Fifth Avenue creative client contacts were pleased with the flower standees in the prototyping stage. “They loved them,” says Kronenberger. They found that sentiment multiplied in the overwhelming response they received from individual store visual merchandising managers. “Saks provides each store with a corporate visual merchandising budget for these displays,” said Kronenberger. “We had lots of requests from the stores for more flower standees from their individual budgets. “Our space in Manhattan was overflowing with flowers.”

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Electrical Boxes Transformed into Public Art The streets of Painesville, Ohio are no longer dotted with boring gray electrical boxes but are instead now brightened by colorful murals as the city joins a growing, nationwide movement to enhance the appearance of utility boxes. The photos chosen to decorate the electrical boxes highlight the natural beauty and history of Painesville. Each wrapped electrical box features the photographer’s name and the project supporters. Bruce Custom Awnings & Graphics (BCG) of Painesville used Avery Dennison MPI 1005 Supercast Easy Apply RS™ and DOL 6060 films to digitally print the wraps. DOL

6060, a protective overlaminate film, prevents fading or discoloration caused by sun damage and also deters graffiti from marring digital graphics. After the wraps were produced, the electrical boxes were first cleaned before the graphics were then installed. There are now twenty-six wrapped electrical boxes throughout Painesville. The wraps were so well received that the Downtown Painesville Organization has even commissioned more. “We were pleased to take part in this beautification project,” said Caity Hanusosky, co-owner of BCG.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

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Transforming an interior environment with wall wraps.



here are several reasons why wall wraps are Zachariah Lujano’s favorite graphics application— easier installation, quicker file generation, and the need for more vinyl square footage than a standard print job or vehicle wrap. “Wall wraps are also very cool at creating an impactful ad or stylizing a room with many creative design possibilities,” he says, citing that his company does these types of wraps for businesses and residential homes. Zachariah Lujano is president of Wrap Nation™, a Phoenix, Arizonabased firm consisting of a national network of professional graphics installers 30

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October 2017

and producers that goes beyond the automotive market to bring wraps to

Wall wraps offer easier installation, faster file generation, and the need for more vinyl. locations ranging from custom venues to enormous wall murals.

Their goal is to provide the best possible products and services, as well as accurate and honest information and education, to the wrap industry, their peers, and their clients. Their services include sales, design, print, installation, quality control, and N.I.R. (National Installation Regulation). “We have two bays [one for production and one for installation],” says Lujano, noting that he has three employees at his Phoenix location and representatives in over eight states and two countries. They’re also highly skilled at completing detailed, complex wraps in extreme time crunches. Such was the case when

All Photos: Wrap Nation.


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Lujano’s company recently needed to print and install a large amount of interior wall wraps in a short amount of time for a brand-new luxurious office space in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Project is the largest online job search engine, and its management wanted to decorate their new Scottsdale facility with custom-designed digital graphics that would provide an appropriate atmosphere for their highly coveted staff.


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

“In addition to graphics that were pleasing to the eye, they wanted visuals that would calm, soothe, and motivate the entire room to be more productive and more comfortable in their work environment,” says Lujano. However the clock was ticking, as its grand opening was only weeks away. Wrap Nation partnered with Studio Dzo, a sign and graphics solution provider in Austin, Texas that combines design, strategic thinking, and management to brands across the country, to help realize the aesthetic

wanted here. (Note: Studio Dzo and Wrap Nation have collaborated and worked together on several other projects—wall prints, art installations, ADA signage, etc.) Adding to the pressure, officials also needed a little guidance. “They wanted help [in determining] what designs would fit in the spaces, as well as how they would be fabricated and installed,” says Studio Dzo Customer Care Partner Joe Arenella. “The designs ranged from standard geometric designs to very custom-designed landscapes.”

The Designs Effective coordination between Studio Dzo and Wrap Nation proved vital on this project. Everything began with on-site meetings and surveys at the still-vacant Scottsdale office to get a better understanding of the project from all three parties. According to Arenella, deciding how the design would flow through the space and how they lined up played a huge part in this project’s success. “Product types, matching patterns, and coordinating schedules were all part of the pro-

cess,” he says. It was determined that dividing the project into two phases would work best. Phase I would be ready in time for the grand opening. It would feature a dozen large wall graphics that had to be measured, formatted, printed, transported, and installed. Phase II would commence a few months later and include over fourteen fully covered walls, cut decals, and etched glass materials. When it comes to artwork for walls, Lujano says that he notices that, com-

pared to typical designers, wrap designers better understand appropriate resolution and file size. “When designing a business card or a Web image, images can be small and even choppy yet still look great,” he says. “But printing a file that’s over 300,000 pixels or over 10 feet in size is going to show every little detail.” Studio Dzo flawlessly put together all the artwork and provided it to Wrap Nation as vector-based files. “This made them easy to handle,” says Lujano, “and kept the resolution for

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October 2017

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the final prints absolutely perfect!” While vector files are typically made in Adobe Illustrator, it’s important to realize that not everyone necessarily uses that program nor can everyone open or preview .AI files. Lujano points out that other suitable vector file extensions here include .EPS, .SVG, and particularly .PDF. “One good tip on file extensions is that you can export a vector as a PDF,” says Lujano. “This is great because PDF files can be seen by almost anyone. “PDF files can be imported into every software available, and they can double as a vector or even be rasterized as a flat image while keeping a very high final resolution.” Lujano also utilizes, another vector-based, open source software. “I use this software to make my base vectors, and then I do my editing and styling either in Photoshop as a high-res image or in our Flexi Sign RIP software.”

estimates they produced close to 3,000 square feet of material. “Scheduling the prints was pretty straightforward, as we dedicated our time to this project on a rush,” he says. “No other print jobs got in our way.” The company laminated all the graphics within minutes using their sixty-four-inch BU-1600RFZ laminator from

The Vinyl Application went smoothly thanks to using General Formulations™ AUTOMARK™ vinyl throughout. “Typically used for cars, the AUTOMARK Wrap Vinyl has air regress technology, so we were positive we would have no bubbles or wrinkles,” says Lujano. “And the performance rating and conformability to the walls gave us the

Driven to

effective Wall wraps can help to create an impactful ad or a stylized room. The Printing Wrap Nation printed all of the graphics via their Mutoh 64-inch VJ-1624x and 54-inch VJ-1324x printers. Lujano says that having two professional-grade printers helped them complete these quick turnaround times and meet their deadlines. “Running both printers cut our production time in half and gave us the extra time we needed for install,” he says, noting that his shop never has to worry about banding thanks to Mutoh’s Interweave technology. “I plan to get a third and fourth model when the time is right.” Between Phase I and Phase II, Lujano 34

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October 2017

MagnumMagnetics_Ad_IslandSpread_October.indd 1

assurance that our project would continue to last for years to come. “We were able to rest assured that our client was provided with superior products that we can all be proud of.” Meanwhile basic lettering and images for the decals used throughout the new office made their production smooth and simple. Their application was easy, thanks to being under two feet in size.

However the frosted, etched glass vinyl, also from General Formulations, proved a bit trickier in production and installation. Its purpose was for decoration and privacy (as it doesn’t allow see-through). Wrap Nation applied them to one side on each of the interior windows. “However unlike typical vinyl, which is pretty forgiving and flexible, the etched glass

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materials have to be handled with extreme care,” says Lujano. “Any little wrinkle in etched glass material will cause it to ‘bruise’ and shows a mark that may require it to be replaced. “Thanks to skill in handling the material and care in transport, we were able to [avoid any of these setbacks].” They employed a combination of soap and distilled water in a squirt bottle to apply the etched glass vinyl to the windows. “Application fluids like Marabu Window Juice can also be used,” says Lujano. The Installation During the planning stages, Wrap Nation took into consideration the amount of space available in the office, the time needed for install, as well as whether any staff would be in the way during install. “We got lucky in Phase I because the offices were still empty,” says Lujano. “We ended up having twenty-four-hour access, which allowed us to work late and overnight with zero interruptions.”

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They utilized simple ladders for a majority of the install work. “We even used some RaceRamps as scaffolding, which made the smaller rooms easier,” explains Lujano. Installation began with the main panel. They taped the panel up about twelve inches from the top, pulled the backing paper approximately six to eight inches from the top, cut a straight line in the backing paper, and applied the top half. From there, they rolled up the material from the bottom, reached around the back to pull it down, and then worked in six- to twelve-inch increments, always keeping a straight line while squeegeeing October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


clean. Mostly. They encountered some issues with one of the walls when they returned the next day after applying vinyl to it.

left to right and so on. Also to their advantage was that the walls were prepped to Level-Five smooth, which made everything super

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“Even after prepping the wall, the material was not adhering from the initial application,” he says. “We learned that this particular wall had been painted less than twenty-four hours before we worked on it, so we determined it was an outgassing issue.” Wrap Nation simply went over the entire wall with a heat gun and a foam roll-


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October 2017

er to remove the bubbling. “This made the bond solid and kept us from having to replace the graphics,” says Lujano. “While we were able to make this wall graphic look good, we told them that we couldn’t warranty the wall because we weren’t told beforehand that it had just been painted.” Lujano states that knowing the final finish of the wall and details about the cure time with new paints is important to consider when making a bid or commitment to install. “Ask questions and do test applications before going all the way,” he says. “This does take more effort and time, but doing so is well worth it when it’s your work that may be scrutinized.” He also suggests contacting the contractor or the paint manufacturer to ask them about appropriate cure times. “Their recommendations will help you base whether or not to warranty your work,” says Lujano. Lujano stresses to take your time and be thorough. “Post-heating the edges and especially on the top and on overlaps is important, as those are the two main points of failure on walls,” says Lujano. “People think that, because it’s flat, it’s just going to stay up regardless. “But gravity pulling on a twelve-foot panel that isn’t properly sealed may cause your wraps to fall right off the wall!” The Advice Compared to cars or helmets, wall wraps are pretty straightforward. Lujano points out that mocking up walls is maybe the most time-consuming part. “I always like to dry fit the graphics before we start peeling any backing paper or applying any vinyl,” says Lujano. “This ensures that the graphics will fit and helps us assess any potential issues before its too late.” Lujano begins by putting all the panels up and taping them to the wall to make sure that that they fit and that content follows according to the proof. “Sometimes people don’t spend the time to do all that,” he says, “and when they get to the door, they’ll find that the letter gets cut off or the imagery doesn’t line up. Then your whole project is screwed.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated



Preparing a tasty threedimensional project.


Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

Building a


Photos: (this spread) Mike Shea Photography.


t seems like food and portion sizes just keep getting bigger, and shows like Man v. Food and Ginormous Food scour the country for menu items that tip the scale. But one recent sign project involving the construction of an eight-foot-diameter-by-five-foottall burger may have put all those offerings to shame. The order for this larger-than-life burger came from one of the biggest franchisees of a popular burger chain, who was looking to do something different at a new location. The franchisee knew that it would take a special shop to cook up this custom burger, so he called US Signcrafters in Indiana. “We have a long-term relationship of fifteen years with the client, and they just flat-out trusted [us] to get it done,” says Jeffrey Trenery, president of US Signcrafters ( Using a combination of both Adobe Illustrator and SAi Flexi software, Trenery got to work on designing a burger that looked like the chain’s popular menu item. Aside from getting the look right and ensuring all the proper ingredients were displayed on the burger—lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayonnaise, and ketchup—US Signcrafters had to figure out how the sign would be mounted to the corner of the building. The final design called for a burger with a triangle wedge missing from the back, which would accommodate mounting plates and allow the piece to fit flush to the corner of the building. It was decided the large burger would

have to be sculpted from foam, so US Signcrafters called on Peachtree City Foamcraft ( to handle the fabrication. “I’ve known them for probably fifteen years as well,” says Trenery, “and I’ve used them for plenty of foambased monument signs in the past.” US Signcrafters provided Peachtree with the burger’s design as well as the aluminum mounting plates so they could be incorporated into the foam build. It was now up to Peachtree to create an appetizing burger. “When creating a three-dimensional piece from a concept drawing, we will take creative license to do whatever it takes to achieve a certain look or feel,” says Michael Fetter, sales manager of Peachtree. “Peachtree City Foamcraft has several artists and sculptors who form a team to manipulate several types of foam that could be cut, sculpted, bent, or shaped into the pieces required to make the unit.” The burger was sculpted from expanded polystyrene foam. “The shapes were individually cut by multi-axis contour-cutting machines utilizing vector art provided by the customer and manipulated to meet our needs,” explains Fetter. “Anything that could not be machined was hand sculpted to meet the design of the project.” Of all the parts of the burger, the lettuce proved the most difficult to recreate, but Peachtree got it done. “The fun part of creating 3D sign images is that we always run into situations that challenge our employees to rise to the occasion,” says Fetter. “The

major challenge was creating lettuce that looked real, and through trial and error, we were able to create the product you see today.” Since the burger would be mounted outside and exposed to the elements, proper precautions were taken to protect the 3D sculpture by applying acrylic paints along with a Poly-Armor™ Hard Coat finishing system. “Our products are finished with 100 percent acrylics combined with the foam and Poly-Armor to create a 100 percent synthetic product that will allow for all three products to expand and contract at the same rate—eliminating the chance of cracking, peeling, and delaminating due to high/cold temperatures,” says Fetter. In all, the design, engineering, and fabrication took about six weeks. When the burger was completed, Peachtree

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the installation. Instead they thoroughly prepped and prepared the client for the installation beforehand. “I worked with their vice president of construction down there, and I talked

crated and wrapped it up for shipping to US Signcrafters. Since the burger was being installed onto a franchise location in Gainesville, Florida, US Signcrafters didn’t perform

them through the installation process, which was a piece of cake,” says Trenery. “It’s actually on a parapet wall, so it’s thru-bolted through the back.” US Signcrafters also provided a pattern for the drilling. “We made the pattern for them out of aluminum,” says Trenery. “It was two-piece, so they bolted that together, which made the 90-degree angle and went right on the corner of the building. “Paper could have been stretched, it could have went on crooked, so we just felt safer with aluminum.” Using the pattern, the client marked the holes, drilled through the parapet, lifted and held the burger up with service equipment, and then mounted it to the wall using threaded rod doublenutted from the back. The franchisee kept the burger covered until the grand opening, which was attended by members of corporate. It’s safe to say that no one went hungry at this 3D burger unveiling!

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October 2017

Photo: US Signcrafters.

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ospital mergers and acquisitions, sports stadium renamings, and school and college campus remodeling often require wayfinding and ADA signage upgrades. Often times, more than one brand can be in one location, requiring various signs and logos. These are just examples of structural changes that can be burdensome for proprietors but a boon for sign companies, as the current business climate leads to ever-changing signage needs. Fortunately there are sign companies that specialize in these markets, providing flexible options for changes that demand quick turnarounds. 42

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

Poblocki Sign Company, an eightyfive-year-old company with headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Raleigh, North Carolina, has remained relatively consistent with work in identity signage. “Companies will either merge and change names or refresh their brands,” says Designer and Planner Karen Pizur. “New businesses enter the marketplace and require identity design, or an existing company might be entering a new geographic location and have to contend with modifying their look to meet local codes.” When working with a variety of clients across a spectrum of industries, Pizur has seen her share of challenges.

“A consistent challenge across all customers is incorporating their vision into code-compliant signage that fits within their budget,” she says. “When it comes to sports venues or education, tamperresistant, durable signage is very important. Healthcare signage typically needs to be the most flexible to work with their changing offerings and advancements.” To this point, she notes that healthcare brings unique challenges, especially on the options for signage content and the focus in messaging. “Should the signs have bilingual messaging, and if so, which ones? Should symbols be used to help patients with low literacy, and if so, are the symbols

All Photos: Poblocki Sign Company.


says Pizur, “so the risk of this new angle obstructing visitors’ views of wall signs is greater.”

Demanding signage and quick turnarounds for changeable markets.

universally recognizable?” says Pizur. “These are items that I work through with clients based on their markets. No two locations are ever exactly alike.” One recent trend in wayfinding signage, she notes, relates to the height of wayfinding and identity signage. Traditionally signage was positioned overhead, directing the viewer’s perspective upwards. However because of the influence of smartphone usage, visitors now tend to look slightly downward, which means signs should be repositioned to meet their lower sight lines. “While this works for education or healthcare, sports stadiums tend to have greater ebbs and flows of visitors,”

A Fun Challenge One project that required maximum flexibility for the Poblocki team was for Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin. Referring to the project as a “fun challenge,” Pizur says her team worked on three different brands within the same building, which represented three different charter schools with their own respective logos and identities. “The school had been renovated to include a few additions, which resulted in dead-end hallways and room numbering that wasn’t in an immediately discernable order,” she says. “The district had approved a wayfinding and signage project that would result in updated signs on all rooms and throughout the whole building.” To map out the new system, the team thoroughly examined the campus and noted all the rooms in the school to make sure that the new numbering scheme would work with the phone system and that it made sense to staff members. A creative challenge was to create a new design that integrated elements of the school logo and colors, while still remaining flexible. “We used digitally printed inserts for all wayfinding classroom and facility signs, as well as maps,” says Pizur. “The ADA tactile requirement was met by using permanent room numbers. “The classroom signs were also designed to incorporate a standard sheet of paper so that the school could update the information as needed.” How You Say It Advanced technology and dynamic materials can create impactful signage, but the devil is in the details. Messaging, contrast, and styles are essential for a successful identity wayfinding program. For copy, Pizur recommends brevity. “The copy should be as concise as possible,” she says. “If there’s too much copy, your eyes tend to skim over the information and not really take in what’s needed. It’s not necessary to direct to every possible destination from every sign.”

Meanwhile higher contrast is a requirement of any ADA-compliant sign. “I typically tend to recommend darker backgrounds on lighter walls and lighter backgrounds on darker walls,” says Pizur. “The signs should be a similar palette to the interior but not be difficult to find when needed. “It can be a challenge to find the right size and colors that aren’t too overwhelming to the space while still being readily visible when a visitor needs direction.” Another recommendation she makes is to use industry-standard language that is consistent across all communications. “If letters are sent to patients from a particular department, that department name should be the same within the facility and clearly visible on every sign that directs patients there,” she says. Best Practices In considering changeable identity and wayfinding signage for a large campus, today’s suppliers provide an array of materials to choose from to achieve a similar style. “Do you want to use solid wood, a laminate, or 3M™ DI-NOC™ vinyl acrylic?” asks Pizur. “You have to look at the entire project when dealing with materials and designs. “While something may look great, it might be too prone to tampering or beyond the client’s budget.” Not surprisingly, Pizur’s tips for best practices focus on being flexible, as she encourages designs that are adaptable in both usage and materials. “It’s important to have a design that can work throughout an entire sign family, whether the sign is needed at the main entrance or to identify a maintenance room,” she says. “Those two locations wouldn’t need to have exactly the same sign, but they should look like they belong together.” She also finds it good to be open about materials for fabrication. “If a design is too tied to a very specific element, like a three-form acrylic, it’s important to consider how expensive reorders may be when only a handful of signs are needed,” she says. “We’d still need to order at least one full sheet to

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


trim the material to size. “This results in a higher cost per sign than the original order.” The bottom line: Make sure that signage gels with the client and environment. Take into consideration budget, flexibility, the potential for tampering, maintenance requirements, etc. “Some sign systems can be great when they’re first installed but might not have much longevity,” says Pizur. “A stripbased directional usually starts out looking clean and organized, but as things change, the font or color might shift slightly. Or there may be a need for more spaces than are available.” Sign Awareness And while sign companies may be aware of regulations, including ADA, clients may not. Pizur’s recommends informing the “novice” client on ADA code specifics, while working with trusted partners (designer, sign fabricator, architect) to an-

swer any questions. “Unless you work with the ADA code every day, there’s a lot of information to digest,” she says. “In addition, signage can fall under codes for life-safety and even city- and state-specific codes. “We run across designs many times where we have to modify layouts or even materials in order to be compliant. It’d be great if expectations could be managed earlier in the process.” Pizur says that they build all their signs on-site. “We run every large exterior sign through our engineering department to ensure that the sign can be mounted safely,” she says. “All of our interior signs will have a detailed shop drawing that we work from. “Any sign can look great on paper, but you have to be able to build and install it. Before our drawings are sent out for approval, we’ve already done a lot of the preliminary work to make sure we’re not showing anything that can’t be done.” Coordination and internal communi-

cation are also key. “If one of our fabricators has an idea on how to improve the build of the sign, they’ll suggest it,” says Pizur. “Designers can take a look at the materials and learn about the specific limitations of each one. Our estimators advise on alternate materials or ideas on how to bring project costs down. “Once the project is out the door for installation, we’ll be advised if any unexpected issues arose on site so we can make adjustments to both current and future projects.”

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October 2017

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o many visitors, a post-andpanel sign is merely a means to an end—providing information on what’s nearby or help guide to a destination. However such casual observers miss the thoughtful collaboration and planning that often guides the design of these signs. Matt Cavalier, project manager and designer with Cloud Gehshan ( in Philadelphia, says several factors should be taken into consideration when designing post-and-panel signs—whether they stand alone or act 46

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

as components of a broader sign system. These include the setting and immediate surroundings, the personality of the host organization and facility, the brand logo and color themes, adjacent architectural or natural elements, viewing distance, and ultimately, the message these signs must convey. “Some organizations want signs that are more traditional, some want something more contemporary,” says Cavalier, noting his firm has designed them all. The company specializes in “experiential graphic design” as consultants

on graphics programs that often include informational and wayfinding post-andpanel signage. Its designs assist and inform visitors to parks and corporate complexes, campuses, and municipalities, and many of its projects start from the “ground up.” For example, the College of New Jersey recently hired the company for a new wayfinding strategy and sign system for the school’s 289-acre campus. The design incorporates the school colors in panels with flourishes borrowed from the college’s classic Georgian Colonial

All Photos: Cloud Gehshan.

Careful considerations guide the design of effective post-and-panel signs.

architecture as visual reminders visitors are on campus. Owners of established facilities also turn to Cloud Gehshan to replace, upgrade, or expand existing sign systems. “There are instances where we’ll work with a client who wants us to look at their system with a fresh set of eyes and improve it,” adds Cavalier. For clients with multiple locations, post-and-panel signs can serve as branding tools, with a look that immediately lets viewers know they have arrived. For example, Cape May County, a popular beach destination on the New Jersey coast, contracted Cloud Gehshan to develop a comprehensive wayfinding system to guide motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists throughout the region’s sixteen municipalities. The design emphasizes the area’s environment and association with summer fun at the shore. The posts are built from recycled pier pilings, while the panels are painted from a pallet of distinct but complementary colors for each municipality. On the back of each sign, graphics like silhouettes of dune grass dress up the signs as a reminder to visitors of where they are.

fills all their requirements. “We sometimes have the freedom to be more creative in our designs, while some of our more corporate, university, or hospital clients may already have a set of standards in place that we have to

LEgibility, contrast, and letter height are some important design goals to consider for post-and-panels. work within,” says Cavalier. The interpretive and wayfinding postand-panel signs at Tylor Arboretum, an outdoor living museum near Philadelphia, showcase that creativity. Twenty-five illustrated panels guide visitors around and highlight its natural

attractions. The panels themselves are curved, often setting informative text against graphics or photos depicting the arboretum’s plants and wildlife. “We designed the structure and aesthetics with posts fabricated to mimic waves of grass, a natural element of that environment,” notes Cavalier. A more traditional approach to postand-panels can be seen at Elon University in North Carolina. The institution commissioned Cloud Gehshan to develop an integrated wayfinding and signage master plan reinforcing its brand identity. The shape of panels and frame elements borrow from the school’s architecture and official colors. A compatible blue is featured where needed to alert visitors when they are headed off campus to the closely associated town of the same name. Visual Audit On all projects, the design process typically begins with a site visit and a visual audit of the setting—and existing signage, if there. On new projects, the concerns may be best placement and size of signs. Where post-and-panel signs are in place, the intent is to encounter them

Guiding Design Concepts “A sign can look great, but if the message is incorrect or unclear, it hinders rather than helps the target user,” observes Cavalier. For post-and-panel signs, there are design goals to achieve: • Legibility and ensuring that contrast and letter height is properly sized to be read at desired distance; • Complying with ADA or other requirements; • Using materials and fabrication methods to ensure durability and resistance to vandalism/tampering; • Complementing the environment while improving the first impression of visitors; and • Displaying the right balance of programming and content or functionality within the confines of the sign panel. The design process often involves several sessions of back-and-forth discussions as Cloud Gehshan’s team works with clients toward the design that

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


for Post-andPanels, the challenge is to stand out so they’re apparent yet still complement their surroundings.

like a typical user. “We want to experience the sign like a first-time visitor and see how well that sign works for someone trying to get around,” explains Cavalier. Then the collaboration begins as Cloud Gehshan’s team sits down with

client representatives for initial discussions. Their goal is determine and realize the client’s expectations in a way that complements their identity graphically. The design challenge on post-andpanel signs can be to stand out so they


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Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

are readily apparent yet still complement their surroundings. “In addition to taking cues from the built environment, we also consider natural surroundings like foliage and native plant species,” says Cavalier. “On occasion, we have also been requested to develop signage that is very contemporary or simple that contrasts or stands-out from the architecture and landscape elements.” For Pennsylvania’s multi-location Natural Lands Trust, Cloud Gehshan’s challenge was to educate visitors about the organization’s commitment to conservation while guiding them around several preserves. The finished design combines wooden posts sourced from native species with easily installed and maintained panels. A distinct red was chosen for consistency and to stand out against the greens of the natural environment. It typically can take several rounds of revisions before an acceptable design is achieved. Occasionally the team must convince clients of the merits of a fresh design or revised content. “When there’s a system already in place, sometimes there’s resistance to making any changes,” notes Cavalier. One of the largest problems they may encounter is nomenclature. “Sometimes what’s there is way too complex,” says Cavalier. For ADA-compliant signage, the design must adhere to well-defined

guidelines. In other situations, team members may serve as editorial advisor, determining what essential information to display. Once content is set, clients may need to see actual renderings of a design before they fully appreciate its merits. “The norm for post-and-panels signs is often interpreted as limited to the use of metal extrusions with sheet metal attached in some fashion,” says Cavalier. The challenge can be to demonstrate how “thinking outside that box” can result in some creative and elegant forms. “These more complex forms usually require extensive modeling—both hand-built in scale and 3D computer designs—to document the correct dimensions/templates to build from,” explains Cavalier. “Collaboration with a skilled fabricator and a prototyping process is also helpful and sometimes entails several iterations.” Before the design phase is complete, they may experiment with placement of mock-up signs. With directional panels, for example, field tests can identify where and how large the sign should be before a driver reaches a decision point. Most designs give clients the flexibility to update panels, as needed. “Some collegiate or hospital clients will construct a new building as soon as every five years, which may influence content on directionals or maps,” says Cavalier.

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Sign Builder Illustrated



It’s About The

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n considering business strategy for monument and dimensional signage, a partnership with a real estate development company can certainly advance sales, as developers have their finger on the pulse of new signage needs in the retail community. This is the approach that one company has taken in working on signage projects for noteworthy clients such as Trader Joe’s and Walgreen’s.

Partnering Up Raider Signage ( in Los Angeles, California, was founded in 2014 with a focus on a range of signage 50

Sign Builder Illustrated

October 2017

for retail clients, including wayfinding, pole and pylon, LED, and of course, monument signs. (Note: The company has also launched a new division specializing in lighting products that are powered by solar technology, which is geared towards sign sites where electricity is not available.) Raider Signage works directly with developers, which allows the company to plan their work in the development process, matching the design and architecture of the retail environment with the planned signage. “We work with several developers that are now demanding a more modern and

relaxed, inviting look to the shopping center experience,” says Steve Parker, project manager for the company. Gone are the days when monument signs meant stone bases and sign boards. Materials used today that Raider also incorporates into monuments include both the traditional (aluminum, CNCrouted steel, extruded lighting elements, acrylic, MEDEX, Dibond® sheeting) and the modern (with a focus on LED video displays provided by Vantage LED and Optec Industries). “While still maintaining the traditional styles of color and lines, we are incorporating elements of backlit acrylic

All Photos: Shannon Peich/Raider Signage.

Real Estate

els, glass work, RGB LED illumination, and CNC-routed panels to minimize the look and keep the signage and architecture clean and uncluttered,” says Parker. Planning and Surveying In taking on a new project, the initial steps undertaken by Raider Signage include a site survey, which allows them to evaluate the various angles from which the signage will be viewed and then plan the size accordingly. During this step, the team also considers environmental factors. “Sunlight can actually hinder the visibility of some signage materials, such as a shiny metal surface, at certain times of day,” says Parker. “This will impact the angle of the sign.” Further steps in their process include consulting with the master sign plan and/or city or landlord signage requirements and restrictions. They also ensure that they work closely with the client to understand any themes that should be adhered to, and the colors, branding, and material requirements. Last, but not least, the budget is kept front and center at all times.

Topanga Mall, in Canoga Park, California, the focus of the project was to redesign and modernize the exterior monument signs displayed throughout the mall property. “For this project, we underwent a design process to work with the client to get the exact visual appeal they needed for their discerning clientele and came

up with a unique artistic, yet modern and classy look,” says Parker. The design motif was translated to the parking garage, where the walls and barricades picked up the sign theme. Directional signage was also included in the series. An aluminum cabinet and LED halo lighting were also incorporated into the design.

Westfield Topanga Mall For one of their retail clients, Westfield

October 2017

Sign Builder Illustrated


Glendale Pylon Sign Another project involving a pylon sign for Trader Joe’s and Walgreen’s in Glendale, California, underwent setbacks that challenged Raider Signage. After completing signage plans that matched the architecture and color scheme of the building, the city ordered the company to change all the colors to a basic grey, setting the sched-

ule back three weeks and delaying the store opening. All approvals were obtained, but another setback occurred—this time related to the sign’s location. During a client walk-through of the sign location, the Raider Signage team noticed that four trees with extensive root systems were obstructing any chance for a secure footing.

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After changing the sign location, a new set of challenges arose: the sign had to fit between a sidewalk and a retaining wall, yielding only one and one-half inches of clearance. “Because of the narrow space, additional spotters were required during the digging, to make sure either structure was not disrupted,” says Parker. Pieces of Advice Monument and other retail signage often serves the business needs of corporate entities, so buyouts and new business mergers are common, which creates frequent changes for the signage programs. To meet these fluctuating needs, Parker recommends that sign companies be nimble. “Keeping up with changing signage needs of our clients is about maintaining a long-term relationship with them, as well as understanding their shortterm and long-term goals for signage and marketing,” says Parker. “The key to these relationships is effective and reliable communication by our team to the clients.” In partnering with a sign company that focuses on retail and monument signage, Parker advises obtaining references and viewing a gallery of past projects. “Find out what their capabilities are regarding adherence to timelines, especially as it relates to their cash flow,” he says. “It’s critical that they can they take on multiple projects at once and still meet deadlines.” The Future Looking ahead, the company is banking on continued development in the retail sectors. “The future is very exciting in our industry,” says Parker. “With the amount of redevelopment happening around the country and new communities popping up, [Raider Signs] has enjoyed a steady growth where new projects are referred to us through our working partners. “This has helped our portfolio grow and work in niche retail markets that only companies like ourselves would partake in.”

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ADA Central Signs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


Piedmont Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2


AdamsTech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Rowmark Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Safety Speed Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49


Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55



A.R.K. Ramos Mfg. Company . . . . . . . 54


ShopBot Tools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41


AXYZ International. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


Sign America Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


Biesse America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51


Sign Bracket Store. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4


Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54



Chemical Concepts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52


Sinalite. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


DUNA-USA Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


Small Balls. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Duxbury Systems Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37


Echod Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Stamm Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . 40


Epilog Laser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16


Stimpson Company Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 36


Fastenation Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Techno CNC Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28


FASTSIGNS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


TRC Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


GravoTech Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48


Trotec Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


Hendrick Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . 49


USSC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29


J. Freeman Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37


Wilkie Mfg. LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3


Johnson Plastics Plus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9


YJ Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


Magnum Magnetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34


Magnum Magnetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35


Manhattan Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


American RENOLIT Corp. . . . . . . . . . . 13


Master Magnetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


E.L. Hatton Sales Co.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Mimaki USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


Howard Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


MultiCam Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


HP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Mutoh America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


Mimaki USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


ORAFOL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3


Optec Displays, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Orbus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


ORAFOL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


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SloanLED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


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Top Value Fabrics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic. . . . 54


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Shop Talk


Peer to Peer

Networking helps solve sign challenges.


achel Wolfgang, project manager at Poyant Signs in New Bedford, Massachusetts, says it is hard to make time for networking in the busyness of the workday. That’s where attending an event like ISA International Sign Expo pays off. “Events offer a focused opportunity to really sit down and meet with people,” she says. “It forces you outside of your shell, and it forces you to get to know people that you wouldn’t necessarily have talked to in the past.” Of course, what grows from the connections made at ISA International Sign Expo should—and does—extend into business throughout the year. “This is sometimes the only time we get to see these people,” says Matthew Vaughn of Sun Solutions in Columbia, South Carolina. “We may talk to them on the phone. We may email them. “But ISA International Sign Expo is

a place where we all come together and talk face-to-face and build on that network that extends and grows.” Matthew and Rachel both participated in the ISA Elite program in recent years, and both found that making those important connections provides benefits that extend throughout the year. (Note: ISA Elite was developed to recognize the next generation of sign and visual communications industry leaders.) “I think it’s really important for people like myself, who are in that younger generation in the industry, to find somebody to help them grow,” says Matthew. “Hopefully I become someone that can help somebody five or ten years down the road. “It’s all about professional development and trying to get to a point where you can help other people succeed and grow professionally.” Building a strong network of peers

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564; Agreement #40612608; IMEX Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad St. 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices.

Prices are subject to change.

Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions Print version, Digital version, Both Print & Digital versions: 1 year US/Canada/Mexico $50.00; foreign $99.00. Single Copies are $15.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only.

For Subscriptions, & address changes, Please call (800) 895-4389, (847) 7639686, Fax (847) 763-9544, e-mail, or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 3135, Northbrook, IL 60062-3135.


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October 2017

COPYRIGHT © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2017. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission. For reprint information, contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or

pays off well beyond professional development. Doing so provides access to experts who can help sign, graphics, and visual communications professionals tackle some of the most challenging issues head on. And nowhere is that more apparent than in working together to improve sign codes in communities across the country. The International Sign Association regularly works with our member companies on developing reasonable sign codes in their communities. But where this work really pays off is when companies who compete daily come together to work for our common interests. And reasonable sign codes certainly fit within those guidelines. When representatives of more than one company ask a local planning commission or other legislative body for sign code changes, it carries more weight than one company on its own. The same is true for your customers and the businesses within the community. That’s one of the reasons that ISA is growing our relationship with chambers of commerce throughout the country. These chamber executives have a vested interest in helping improve the business environment in their communities. And as we all know, signs play a big part of growing a business.

It’s all about trying to get to a point where you can help others succeed.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 3135, Northbrook , IL 60062-3135. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to-activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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October 2017 Sign Builder Illustrated  

This issues features stories on monuments, vinyl graphics, wall graphics, vehicle wraps, installations, ADA/wayfinding signs, post-and-panel...