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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.

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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.

Pros & Cons of Vehicle Magnetic Signs October 8, 2009

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Advertising / Marketing, Product Spotlight.
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Our magnetic signs look real... but not this real.

Our magnetic signs look real... but not this real.

If you have a refrigerator, then you probably have some magnets. They are great for holding grocery lists, coupons and business cards for cool sign shops (hint, hint).While we can do small sizes magnetics like that, that’s not what we are talking about here. Vehicle Magnetics can be a great way to advertise when you are driving around. But they do have their good points and bad points.

First off we will start with the advantages of the vehicle magnets. The best part about the magnets are that they are easily removable. You can put them on during the week and take them off if you go out of town on the weekend. Some people also like to take them off at night if they are going out. They are nice because you aren’t locked into having a just a work vehicle. If you have multiple vehicles that may be used, like for deliveries, then you can transfer them from one vehicle to another. So the main advantage of the magnetic sign is it’s ability to be removed and reapplied.

There are some draw backs to using magnet signs. They need to be positioned on a fully flat surface which means they should not be used over vehicle molding or go over gaps in the vehicles body. If you do this, you will very likely lose it while driving down the highway. They can also become a target for teenagers to run off with. They have no real use for it besides showing it off as a trophy. They magnetic signs also need to have a little maintenance, such as taking them off once a week and cleaning any dirt or water that has creeped in behind it. When you do take them of for any extended amount of time, you need to store them flat or else they will become warpped and won’t lay flat in the future. Also a word of warning, if you leave them on for years with never taking them off, they can become bonded to the vehicle. We haven’t seen this, but have heard horror stories about it happening.

So overall, they magnetic signs need a little upkeep, but it is relatively easy. It’s greatest asset of being removable can be it biggest detriment also. But if you are careful and follow the steps outlined above, you magentic signs can last you for years. Maybe someday we will start creating magnetics with gps trackers so if they do become lost, you’ll be able to find them. As of now, it is cheaper to just buy a new one.

Jobs in Bunches! September 10, 2009

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Advertising / Marketing, Business Spotlight.
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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

Are Floor Graphics Effective? September 1, 2009

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Advertising / Marketing, Business Advice, Product Spotlight.
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Floor GraphicsLarge decals or stickers can be applied to a floor as extra advertising space, but how effective are they? You have probably seen these at grocery stores in the aisles, but did the influence what you bought? Can you even recall what any of these ads were for? Then why would companies consider using this form of advertising?

We have a floor graphic in front of our counter at our sign shop. Most customers will literally stand on it and never seem to notice it. I’ve seen customers step back, read the text on it, and look indifferent about it. They don’t comment or give any feedback on it. I find this odd and it got me thinking and trying to figure out what was really going on.

People aren’t accustomed to reading advertising that is at their feet. It’s just not used anywhere else, even shoe stores have shelves to bring the product up to eye level. So I really don’t think that a floor graphic with direct call to action works in most cases. I do believe that they can be effective if used correctly.

Floor graphics will work best is they are used in branding, a graphic that ties in with something more eye level or if they are part of viral marketing. As far as branding goes, this would be if you put you logo on the floor or you company slogan. It should be along the same lines as the rest of you company theme. An example of having it tie in with other signage is to have dirty dog prints go across the floor up the wall to a sign about dog washing. People will notice them and follow them to a sign that deals with what they were looking at. The viral use of floor graphics works if you are looking to promote something such as a website and want the person to go to it. If you see a floor graphic that says, “Who is Sam Tingle?” then has a website of http://www.WhoIsSam.com, you can pique someone’s interest. You are making a comment to them as opposed to yelling an advertisement at them. This can have the effect of making people want to go to the site to find out more.

In the end, floor graphics can be effective if you use them correctly. They are not a standard sign and thus should not be used as such. If used correctly and creatively you can have something that will not only stand out to your customers, but also be a great return on investment.

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

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Business Advice.
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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.

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.

Can You Make My Logo Bigger? August 24, 2009

Posted by yellowdoggraphics in Misc.
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LogosIn advertising with signs, bigger is usually better. The bigger a sign is, the better chance it has to catch someone’s attention. The bigger the wording is, the easier it is to read. There is a point however, where you can have your wording or logo too big.

Many times people get caught up with making their logo so big, that they forget about the overall concept of what they want the sign to do. In most cases, a sign is there to convey a message. If you message is: ‘Here I Am!’ then by all means, go with the biggest logo possible. If the message you want to get across is what you business does, a big logo is not necessarily the way to go.

When designing a sign, always remember to look at the larger picture on what you want it to accomplish. If someone else is designing it for you, be able to communicate to them what you want the sign to convey to your customers. The best layout of a sign is one that does exactly what you intend it to do.