Tony Sullivan

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Shop name:
Graphix Signs & Design

Shop size: 1000 sq. ft. shop space plus 675 sq. ft. office

Staff: Two plus Tony

Age: 52

Graphics equipment:
Roland XR640 and
VG540 printers
Guardian Laminators

On Facebook as
Graphix Signs & Design
Tony Sullivan grew up around his father’s auto repair shop. As a child, he remembers his father getting his trucks lettered by a local sign painter, which was something his father made sure he was a part of each time. It was an early influence on the career he would choose to pursue later in life.

After finishing college, he worked in an advertising agency for a bit, then got the opportunity to learn the sign business for himself from a local sign maker who was planning to move to Florida. He was 23 and it was the dawn of the computercut vinyl sign industry, so his timing was great. He developed relationships with some very good customers, and they have kept him busy ever since. Here he is today, 29 years later:

The work is on wheels Most of my work is vehicles. We have a big logging industry up here so there are plenty of trucks to do. That’s great, because besides being my bread and butter, vehicles are where I feel most comfortable—even though I do a great deal of corporate sign work as well.

Vehicle graphics design is a challenge because usually the vehicle will be moving and quite often so will the viewer. You’ve got to grab the viewer’s attention and deliver the important message about what the business is selling in just a few seconds.

Software and hardware I’ve worked in SignLab for basic design and for production. I’ve used it since the early days when it was Cadlink. I prefer it over Illustrator because it is more comfortable to work in. For wrap design, I work in Photoshop.

We have Roland XR640 and VG540 printers. We also have a couple of Guardian laminators and love them. They are well designed and have been bulletproof.

Splitting up the work Like most small shops, I do most of the sales and design, plus a lot of production. I have the help of one full-time person, Brad, who handles a lot of production and the installation. My son Nick helps out from time to time, as well.

I tried bringing in another designer a time or two, but it just didn’t work out. Their work didn’t have the look that I wanted to put out there. So I decided it was best for me to do the designs and find others to help with the production. I needed control over the design because that’s a big part of what I’m selling.

I’m not set up to do dimensional signage, so I sub that out. That work tends to be very laborintensive, and it stays in the shop for a while— which is the opposite of vehicle work. I prefer to leave the dimensional sign production to a shop that specializes in that. It leaves us free to do what we do best.

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