Profile: Donna Larocque
By SignCraft Magazine
Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2018
SignCraft learned of Donna’s work while doing the feature on Rodger MacMunn for the July/ August 2018 issue. He mentioned that he and Donna worked together on some projects and sent along photos of some of her work as well. Their 15 years of collaborating has helped both of them grow their businesses and provide creative signs for their market in southern Ontario, Canada. We asked Donna about her business, her work and how she came to work with Rodger.
Donna Larocque’s Sign Shoppe
560 sq. ft.
Donna plus part-time help as needed
Graphtec CE5000-60 cutter
While pursuing a career in commercial art and design, I was pleasantly amazed by so many opportunities! My college diploma in graphic design back in 1986 prepared me for the print industry but really opened many more doors. I definitely got my money’s worth! Ten years into the graphic arts industry I was introduced to sign making and was hooked. Without it, my customer branding services would seem very incomplete.
Today, living in a rural community requires a lot of versatility. One must be a jack of all trades. My strength in illustration/portraiture has allowed me to provide murals, portraits, sign pictorials, theatre backdrops, etc. as well as graphic design and signs. Every job is very different from the last and makes this career a true joy. That can make estimating tough, though!
Introduction to the industry
Upon completion of college in Edmonton, Alberta, my first job was a courtroom sketch artist for Canadian TV, combined with freelance design/illustration work. Eventually I worked full time in the prepress industry and was introduced to computer technology in design, learning on the job.
In 1997 I found myself back in my hometown. Seeking work in my industry, I purchased a sign business—close enough I thought! Little did I know how creatively rewarding it would be. It came complete with a small customer base, one of the very first chain-driven CNC routers, sandblasting booth/equipment and last but not least, Patti Galbraith. Patti worked with me for five years. She was a very talented self-taught designer, sign maker and CNC router tech.
She taught me everything she knew about the industry. We nicknamed ourselves “Chicks with Knives!” We used the router for all of our cutting needs, even vinyl. Looking back we should have had a plotter. We covered the gamut of sign products, including sandblasted/ routed cedar signs and cutout letters, setting us apart from our local competitors.
My future husband came into the picture and thanks to his patience became an integral part of my sign business from then on. At the time he owned and operated a restaurant and would show up in his whites to help us with a difficult installation. We always got laughs.
Dennis also has a background in carpentry and more recently a masonry contractor. Today he helps with most of my installations, some sign construction and his beautiful stonework graces some of my projects—all while running his own business.