“Luke had an existing logo I had to work with,” says Raychel. “He now has about 20 trucks and all are done with printed reflective vinyl.”
“This was another existing logo I had to design to work on four different types of trucks that were three different colors. It’s all printed on 3M vinyl.”
“I designed this logo and sign for a local client. The sign uses router-cut PVC letters on a panel of ½-in. PVC that’s roughly 3-by-4-ft.”
“I used this client’s existing logo and designed the sign to be very dimensional. It’s carved high density urethane board on a 42-in.-diameter aluminum panel with router-cut HDU letters, and mounted on an aluminum post.”
“Embody had an existing logo that was all Times Roman text. I couldn’t live with it being right next door to me, so I changed it up and updated the logo to better suit them. I designed two partial wraps to go on two different color cars.”
“I designed this logo with Rachel Svenson, then designed the dimensional sign. The sign is roughly 4-ft. tall and 2-in. HDU with 1-in. HDU letters.”
“I redesigned their logo, then did a new sign and also their van. The sign is about 4-by-5-ft., multi-level sandblasted HDU board with carving.”
“Larsen Dental, in Beaver Creek, Wisconsin, contacted me to design a logo and dimensional sign. They loved Anchor Realty so much they wanted similar details. The 40-in.diameter sign is many layers of HDU with hand-carved fleur de lis and finished with gold leaf.”
24-in.-wide carved HDU sign finished with gold leaf lettering, done for a client’s summer home in Vermont
“I revamped this logo and designed the wrap, which is printed on 3M vinyl.”
“I designed this for all their trucks and a trailer. It’s printed and contour cut 3M vinyl.”
“We started with the architect’s design then added the dimension and fabrication details. It’s 36-by-42-in. HDU with routed PVC. The accents are real rolling pins.”
“I designed the logo and truck graphics, which were printed and contour cut from 3M vinyl.”
“My favorite sign! It was done for a friend on Martha’s Vineyard. I had total free rein for design and fabrication. It’s 40-by30-in. all HDU with hand-carved HDU scrolls and gold leaf.”
“I recreated and hand painted this design, using a client-provided photo that was taken in 1929. Rachel Svenson did the pinstriping.”
“This is the latest version of this logo. The original was painted in the ’90s, but this one was printed and contour cut from 3M vinyl.”
“I designed this 30-by-60-in. HDU sign with gold leafed lettering for a local school.”

Raychel O’Donoghue

Burlington, Massachusetts

By SignCraft.com

Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

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Shop name:
Lexington Signs and Graphics

Shop size: 2000 sq. ft.

Staff: Two, part-time

Graphics equipment:
Roland VG-540 printer/cutter
Graphtec 30-in. plotter

On Facebook as Lexington Signs & Graphics
It wasn’t long after Raychel O’Donoghue first went to work in a sign shop in 1985 that she decided that she wanted to be a sign painter. Computers were not yet heavily involved in the industry, and she wanted to learn to hand letter. Raychel went on to attend the Butera School of Art in Boston to learn the trade. After school, she moved to Martha’s Vineyard for a while, then came back to the Boston area to open her own shop. SignCraft spoke with her between projects on a busy afternoon:

25 years and counting: It’s been a busy 25 years or so. I have a nice shop with two garage bays, and one part-time helper and lots of amazing subcontractors. I design and finish the signs, but I don’t actually build a lot of them. I do the designs and oversee the projects.

I do quite a few dimensional signs, but I don’t have a CNC router, so I sub that work out. I don’t have enough of that work to justify buying the equipment and add staff to operate it.

Deanne just started here recently, and she helps me with production. I also call on Rachel Svenson of Sublime Signs and Anthony Chromey of Ardor Creative to help out on an as-needed basis. It can be a lot when you work alone—it’s good to have a few more pairs of hands to help out.

The work and the market: I do a little bit of everything—3-D signs, trucks, logos, windows, interior signage—but I prefer jobs where I can be involved with the design. Lately I’m pretty picky about what I do. If the customer has a logo, that’s fine, but I like to be able to design how it will be used on the sign and what the end product will look like. I still sometimes have to do signs that I am not crazy about, but I usually get some pretty interesting projects.

We’re about 10 miles or less outside of Boston, in an area that’s really booming right now. There’s a lot of new development and all the sign shops are busy here.

Biggest challenges: Educating clients can also be a challenge since everyone is a designer these days thanks to computers. I would say sign permits and difficult landlords. There are a lot of historic districts and restrictive sign ordinances around here. And many landlords are very particular about signs. It can really complicate things. Beyond just making an attractive sign, you have to work with the ordinances and the landlord’s requirements.

What would you tell a beginner: There’s more to succeeding in the business than just producing signs. You have to spend the time learning, studying and practicing to develop your skills as a sign maker. There are a few schools with full sign programs, like Los Angeles Trade Tech College, that you could look into. I’d suggest you get to as many of the workshops for sign lettering and design that you can.

Learn to draw letters so that you can understand the visual relationships between the letters. There are few times that I use a line of lettering without messing with it a little bit—the spacing or the letters themselves. If you haven’t done lettering by hand, you may not know how to do that. Having learned to draw lettering has been a big help to me.

You need to learn the fundamentals of effective sign layout. It’s not just a matter of typing in the copy. And sign design is different than other types of graphic design. You see quite a few logos that look okay on the screen or on the business card, but they just don’t work well on a sign.

If you invest a little time in learning, you’ll have something to offer. Anyone can make a vinyl sign, or most any type of sign, with the help of the computer. That’s just the production side. The question is whether or not it will be an effective sign. If your work doesn’t stand out from the rest, you won’t have much to offer.

Going forward: I like things the way they are here. I’ve always worked like this, and I wouldn’t necessarily want to get any bigger. I don’t like to take on more than I can do, and I wouldn’t want to lose control of the work. I may never get rich, but I sure like what I do.

I love to hand letter, and I’m so glad that there is a renewed interest in it. Who knows— maybe someday sign painters will be sought after again! (Laughing.)

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