Signs of the Times - February 2013 - (Page 62)

Pursuing a Different Rout A relative newcomer shares his thoughts, hopes and experiences. By Gary Johnson In our December 2012 issue (see page 64), we featured some of the winners in the United State Sign Council’s annual Sign Design Contest. The Best of Show award went to Gary Johnson (The Great American Sign Co., Basking Ridge, NJ) for a whimsical, routed sign that could make any Scrooge smile. We were pleased to meet Gary at the USSC Sign World Intl. tradeshow in Atlantic City in early December, and he readily agreed to share his experience, hopes, thoughts and practices with regard to routing. Gary readily admits his equipment is “old,” but he aspires to own better equipment, such as a MultiCam 3000. Nonetheless, he can still produce exquisite work. Gary Johnson is quick to spread around the credit. Despite his success, as indicated above, when questioned, he mostly talks about all the people who have helped him along the way. Being teachable is one of the most valuable character traits anyone can have. F or my first five years in business, I ran a vinyl shop. Then, in 2005, I attended a beginner carving workshop at Sign World. The instructor, Jay Cooke (from Stowe, VT) made it look so easy and fun, I just had to try it. Oddly enough, I had my first opportunity just a month later when a local college wanted to replace its peeling entrance signs. At the time, Jay had an instructional CD, which I quickly purchased. I studied each demonstration until I was confident enough to pick up the chisels. The signs turned out great and, as a result, what began as a three-sign job, turned into a 10-sign job. A rival university in the same town was so impressed with the signs, they contracted me to make seven 62 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / FEBRUARY 2013 / carved signs for them, along with hundreds of parking, directional and building signs. At this point, the volume was too high to handcarve, but I couldn’t afford a CNC router, so I subcontracted work to a friend, Chris Stone at Stone Graphics (Farmingdale, NJ).  When Chris himself got too busy to handle my overflow, he suggested that I purchase a used Gerber Dimension 200 router he’d seen advertised.  I took a look and bought it on the spot for $6,000. I learned to use it by reuniting with Jay up in Stowe. He no longer had his Vermont Sign School, but he agreed to tutor me over a long weekend. Jay got me off the ground with Gerber Artpath software, but after that, it was all trial and error.  It took some time to get everything set up and working properly, and so the router sat unused for several months until my wife’s office needed some flat-cut letters in a rush. I knew I could handle that, so I reviewed all my notes and powered everything up, and it cut the PVC letters like butter. With that, I caught the bug, and I was spending weekends making samples to inspire my customers. I remember making three identical 30-in. college seals on spec because I was convinced the university would fall in love with them. It was a typical college seal with the college name in a circle around a crest. I made the university’s name 23K goldleaf prismatic, surrounding a hand-carved crest with ribbon. I sold the first one to my customer for $700. They loved it so much, I sold the second one six months later for $1,400, and the third one, which sat proudly in my showroom for a year, I sold for $2,000. Last year, the University changed the seal, and now that same seal is back in my showroom, looking as good as the day I made it.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - February 2013

Signs of the Times - February 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Electric
LED Update
Software Update
Technology Review
Technology Review
Sign Museum News
New Products
Dressed to Impress
Uniqlo’s In-store Digital Signage
Pursuing a Different Rout
Word on the Street Signs
Industry News
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - February 2013