SMC: What type of projects have you been working on recently?
JM: At the moment, the economy in our area is booming so we are working on a lot of new logo creations, which we then turn into life-size projects. Seeing a new brand come together is very satisfying. Lately, we have also been doing a lot of window murals. These projects are hard to install in the winter but right now our clients’ storefronts are really stepping it up.
Over the last few years local schools have become a large part of our customer base as they have all started to pay more attention to their brands and physical spaces. Being able to improve these particular environments is fun. Automotive dealerships are a big part of our business, too. These clients typically let us geek out on some of their projects, whether it is redesigning a retro stripe or blanketing their demo models.
Once some of our projects are recognized, such as the Arctic Bear mural, we have more requests to ‘play’ a little more. At the core, 80 per cent of our work is typically small business signage. The trick is remembering no matter how simple or mundane a project may seem to us, it is important to our clients and they see the work we do as a form of magic. When looking at projects through our client’s eyes it helps us keep things in perspective.
SMC: How much of the sign-making process is handled in-house?
JM: We handle 80 per cent of all work in-house. Some dimensional projects, lighted signs, and fabric printing are handled externally. With our franchise we are allowed to offer the products we want, which gives us a lot of freedom to be creative.
Our suppliers are very involved and we love working with them; Grimco is our first call for all things Avery, and ND Graphics has been amazing to work with as well. In fact, Dave is an Avery Certified Installer. That said, we wrapped our first truck in 2003 before eco-solvent printers were available. We did not only have to order the wrap printed from Vancouver, but we also had never installed one before. Thanks to Dave’s insanely good instincts, the wrap turned out beautiful. It was installed with no reprints on non-air egress material at that. Further, it lasted for more than 10 years.
SMC: What does your project planning and design process involve?
JM: Typically, a standard consultation is conducted to determine the needs of the client and the project. For more complex jobs, we like to know how creative we can get, and sometimes all it takes is a really great concept. For example, we had our designer get really creative on a storefront project without any expectations from the customer. Three years later, the client came back and said they were ready to move forward with the job. Although we had to redesign some things for budget considerations and, of course, real-life execution, it turned out amazing. Sometimes the material is the inspiration, while other times it is the creativity. Regardless, we find a way to make it work.