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Looking for a unique gift? Get a custom guitar! November 17, 2009

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Business Spotlight.
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Custom_Guitar_Graphics_Rockflight

The family that 'plays' together stays together. (I know it's cheesy, but that's all I could think of.)

Earlier this year, we had a guy come into our shop looking for something a little different. He wasn’t looking to have a traditional sign made, he wanted to make guitars. Seeing as we have never made a guitar, this was a little confusing. He explained that he was able to put the guitars together, but he wanted to be able to customize them with pictures and graphics. We have made pictures and graphics before (actually everyday) so this sounded a little more doable.

The customer’s name was Steve and his company was Rockflight. He had the idea of putting together guitars that would be a great and unique gift to give someone. Very few people out there have a guitar with their pictures and logo on the face, unless they are in a band. The guitars he makes are functional, but can also just be mounted on the wall as a cool conversation piece.

Some of the different graphics we’ve done for him have been for the Valley Children’s Hospital, Fresno Police, a Patriotic layout and collages of family pictures. With the holiday season coming up, you might have to shop for someone that seems to have everything. I’ll bet they don’t have a custom guitar to play or hang on their wall, so give Steve a call or check out his website.

All You Need To Know About Faux October 21, 2009

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Faux Example PicturesFaux painting is one of those things that looks hard, until someone shows you how easy it is. Then you try to do the easy steps on your own and they end up not being as easy as they look. If you give me a sponge, some paint and a wall, it’s going to look like I put paint on a wall with a sponge. That’s why any painting projects are done by my wife, Heather. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a faux and mural painter who has been trained in the different techniques and has been doing it for years.

From Heather having her business Faux By Heather, I’ve learned a lot about faux finishing. When I go from one room in our house to another, there is a different style of faux painting on the walls. The entry way has a dark red Venetian Plaster. What stands out most about the Venetian Plaster to me is the super smooth feel it has once it’s on the wall. In the bathroom she did a glaze on the walls. The bathroom has a nautical theme, so she used a couple different shades of the blue glaze to help give it some depth. In the family room she did one entire wall with a sunset beach scene mural. I think the mural is what people remember the most if they’ve been over.

Before & After Faux Painted Garage Doors

Before & After Faux Painted Garage Doors

One of my favorite things she has faux painted was a garage. The people she was working for had already painted the outside of their house, but wanted something different for their white garage doors. They wanted them to look like barn doors. This style of painting is called Tromp L’oeil. Tromp L’oeil can best be described as an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three dimensions, instead of actually being a two-dimensional painting. She said that painting the garage doors took a little longer than she had planned, because people kept stopping to talk to her about them.

I’ll admit, I might be a little biased, but I feel Heather of Faux by Heather is by far the best faux painter in the Fresno & Clovis area. Probably the best in the valley. I would say best in the world, but I don’t want her traveling everywhere and leaving me at home to play Mr. Mom.

Valley Animal Center’s Wiggle Waggle Walk September 23, 2009

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Wiggle Waggle Walk logoValley Animal Center is having their 10th annual Wiggle Waggle Walk and Furry 5K Run this Saturday. What is a Wiggle Waggle Walk you say? The Wiggle Waggle Walk and Furry 5K Run is a fundraiser benefitting the Valley Animal Center, Fresno’s premier no-kill shelter and spay/neuter/vaccination clinic for dogs and cats.

We’ve been working with Valley Animal Center on different signage projects since 1999. Most of the time we are making banners for their different events, but have also made wood signs, some acrylic signs and the large floor graphic that is in their lobby. If you go out to the event, you’ll see some of our banners, but you’ll also see hundreds of dogs and dog lovers.

So, if you are looking for something fun to do on Saturday Sept 26th, head on over to The Maple Mall at California State University Fresno for a Vendor Faire, Kid’s Carnival, Dynamic Doggie Demonstrations, and an awards ceremony for top fundraisers and the team with the most members. If you want more information about Valley Animal Center, check out their blog.

Jobs in Bunches! September 10, 2009

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Jobs in Bunches!It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is always strange when we get certain types of jobs in bunches. We can go a couple months without any calls asking for static cling signs, then have 3 different orders within a week. It would make sense if we were running a special on static clings, or if there was a newspaper article about them, but that never seems to be the case. Some of the other products we’ve had this happen with have been vehicle magnets, stickers and posters.

The weird bunching that brought this to mind is that we did graphics on our second food serving vehicle this week. The graphics aren’t as elaborate as the hot dog cart wrap, it is large logos on Cal Poly University’s Curb Side Grill vehicle. We actually did the job for Matt at West Coast Trailers who had the job of building and installing all the kitchen facilities inside the vehicle. Matt was great to work with and does some really incredible stuff in building mobile kitchens/concession trailers.

Curb Side Grill logo on vehicle

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it can be fun to look for patterns and try to figure out if there is any significance to them. I’m curious if anyone else out there has had a strange or unusual grouping of jobs. If so, leave a comment of what it was and if you know what caused it.

Hot Dog Cart Wrap – part 2 September 9, 2009

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Scan of Bear the wanted to use. The bottom of the paper was torn off.

Scan of Bear they wanted to use. The bottom of the paper was torn off.

After sending the proofs for the vinyl wrap to the customer, they came in on Friday afternoon to discuss them. They wanted a few changes, which ended up to be changing just about everything except for the font I had chosen for the lettering. They had a drawing of a bear they wanted to use. It was drawn with a felt tipped marker and they wanted to add some colors to it, so I knew I had some work to do.

I think the biggest change was losing the red & yellow stripes and filling up the background with the picture of the hot dog on one side and chili dog on the other. They also wanted to move all of the contact information to the lower section. This made sense because while the cart is being used, the top sections open up and you can’t see them.

I finished up the proofs on mid morning on Tuesday (monday was Labor Day and we were closed.) They came in around noon and approved them. They also stressed that it had to be completed by the end of the day as they were having a big grand opening with it on Wednesday. Luckily the hot dog cart is relatively small, but printing and wrapping it the same day is quite a rush job. We didn’t finish it up until about 6:30 that night. The customers came and picked it up and loved it. Here are the pictures of the completed hot dog cart wrap.

We knew it would be a tough job because of the quick turn-around needed. It was fun and interesting to see where we started and the changes made to get to the final product. So now if you see this around town (it’s pretty hard to miss) you’ll know the process it went through from start to finish.

Hot Dog Side - ClosedHot Dog Side - Open

Chili Dog Side - ClosedChili Dog Side - OpenBack Side of Hot Dog Cart

Hot Dog Cart Wrap – part 1 September 3, 2009

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I wanted to track the process of a job to show what we start with, what we end with, and how we get there. Today I had a someone call in the morning asking for a quote to wrap three sides of a hot dog cart. The overall height is 56″ tall with the sides being 68″ wide and the back is 46″ wide. I gave him an estimated cost including installation which he said sounded pretty good.

Back of cart that they want totally covered.

Backside of hot dog cart.

What we get to start with.

What we get to start with.

A few hours later, he came to the shop and said he wanted to move ahead with wrapping the hot dog cart. So I went out and double checked the measurements and took pictures of the hot dog cart. As you can see it has been used, but they wanted to get a whole new look on it. We told me that he wanted the name ‘Brown Bear’s Hot Dogs’ with the phone number on it. They also wanted a bear holding a hot dog. They also had some pictures of their hot dog and a chili dog they wanted on there.

From there I sat down to design the wrap. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, but didn’t have a clear picture yet. I started off searching for some clipart of a bear eating a hot dog. It sounded like something I should be able to find and did. Next I picked a font for their name that was big, bold and fun and that fit with the bear clipart. I then needed a background and decided to us kind of circus tent stripes with red & yellow (like ketchup & mustard). I didn’t want to look like ‘Hot Dog on a Stick’ so I made sure to not make blue a major color. I then put these items together and added their hot dog & chili dog pictures. These are the proofs that I sent to the customer:

As of now, I have not heard back from them yet (I sent the proof about 30 minutes ago). I will see if they like the layout and if they would like any changes. If they do make major changes I will post the new proofs here. Other wise I will show some pictures of the process on putting the wrap on how it looks when it’s finished. Stay Tuned!

Brown Bear's Hot Dogs Sides proof

Hot Dog Cart Side Proof

Brown Bear's Hot Dogs Back proof

Hot Dog Cart Back Proof

The Timeline of a Sign August 31, 2009

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Your sign will be done before you figure out how to read this astronomical clock!

Your sign will be done before you figure out how to read this astronomical clock!

Often times (ok almost every time) a customer asks how long will it take to make a sign. This is usually very important to the customer, because they are typically on a tight time schedule and need things done as soon as possible. We know that a quick turn around is often necessary and have organized our shop to be able to produce signs in an efficient manner.

The first step is the sign proof. We insist on making a proof for the customer. We can fax it, email it or print it out for the customer to come in and see. We do this because we are human and can make mistakes. We also do it to show the customer the layout, they can see how the colors will look & they can proof read all the wording. Sometimes the designers here will have an idea of something that might work better, so they will add a proof with that sign layout also.  We normally will have the proof done the day after the sign is ordered.

Once we have the proof signed off, we move on to the second step which is printing the sign. In a day we will usually print on banner material, vinyl material, vehicle wrap material, window mesh, and possibly specialty materials like static cling or translucent. So depending on when we are printing on a certain material determines when the customer’s sign is printed.

The third step is the production step. This is where the laminating, mounting and hemming happens. All of the different substrates that will be used that day need to be cut down to size. Once a sign is mounted or banner is hemmed then the finishing touches such has drilling holes or adding grommets is done. Production times fluctuate based on how much other work has been ordered before you and how long it will take to get the other orders completed.

So as far as how long does it take to make a sign, you’ve just read the long answer. The short answer is that we will usually have a proof for you the next day and once we get the ok it will be between 1 – 3 days on most orders. I think that rolls of the tongue a little easier than three paragraphs of information and explanation.

In House = More Control = Happier Customers August 28, 2009

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More control of your business leads to happier customers.

When we first opened up the sign shop here we were ready to make signs. Since we didn’t have any repeat customers yet, and it takes time for advertising to have an effect, we had very few orders for signs. And idea we had to was offer more products which would give us the chance of more orders. We started offering shirts, hats, business cards, stamps and flyers. All of these things we could sell without even doing much work. We had suppliers who we could order from, they would make it, send it to us and we would give it to the customer. On one hand we did get to process more orders, but at the same time we ended up with some unhappy customers.

The problem we had with all of these other items was that we had very little control of their production. If the supplier had a problem or it was lost in shipping, we could do very little about it. With any of the signs we make, if there was a problem, we could fix it. It might mean staying late or coming in during the weekend, but we had the means to remake or fix the sign. Offering the other services was something we felt was necessary to keep the business going early on. We no longer offer any of those services. I would say over ninety-five percent of the jobs we do now are all in-house.

If you are thinking of adding new services or products, don’t be blinded by the idea of more money with less work. There are other factors such as turn around time, payment terms and reliability to take into consideration. These things can effect how your customer’s views your business and they have the potential of added stress for yourself.

Radio Van Wrap in Fresno – It Just Rocks! August 27, 2009

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KFRR 1041 Van Wrap Driver SideKFRR 1041 Van Wrap Passener SideThe people from KFRR 104.1 radio brought in a van they wanted wrapped. They gave us a simple direction in that first, they wanted their 104.1 logo with the slogan ‘It Just Rocks’ big. Second, they wanted to have the Kevin & Bean logo to be easily seen. Third they wanted the van to stand out.

This was an easy design and layout for us. The van has big flat areas on both sides and KFRR only wanted two messages to be seen. Once we placed both the 104.1 logo and Kevin & Bean logo in the design, we only had to pick a background that would be eye catching, attract attention and fit the overall feel of the radio station. We thought we did a pretty good job and the people at KFRR 104.1 loved it. I say you could put this van on the road or in a crowded parking lot and pick it out from a mile away. Of course, this is assuming your eye sight is good enough to see things a mile away. 🙂

KFRR 104 1 Van Wrap Back & Side

Here a sign, There a sign, Everywhere a sign! August 26, 2009

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How many signs can you count?

How many signs can you count?

All day long I’m surrounded by signs. You would think that’s an obvious statement since I work in a sign shop. The truth of the matter is that you are surrounded by signs too, you just don’t look at them as much. Next time you are out driving around, take notice of how many signs are around you. You might be surprised.

I like being surrounded by signs. I tend to look around and see which signs stand out to me and which ones are hard to notice. I do look at signs and see what I would do different. I don’t criticize all of them and say I could do a better job. I also look for signs that I like and think are well done.

The biggest problem that stands out to me is when I’m trying to read a sign and I’m not able to. This can be because of too much wording, or the words are too small or the font that was used is too hard to read. If the sign wants to convey a message to me, and I’m trying to receive that message but can’t, then it is a bad sign.

So if you are thinking about having a sign made, look around and see what others are doing. You can get ideas of what you like and what you don’t and what will work best for you. This will give you a great head start in creating a sign that will be highly effective and give you the best bang for your buck.