Try a rust patina as the background Giampiero Giovanelli, The Sign Factory, Fermignano, Italy
Turn interior signs into wall prints Doug Downey, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Bump the graphics off the surface Cathy Krommenhoek, Old School Sign Company, Le Mars, Iowa
Look for ways to turn a sign into a storefront design Brian Stoddard, NW Signs, Monroe, Washington
Give posts a hand hewn look Brian Schofield, Lines & Letters Designs, Bridgewater, New Jersey
Split the background Bob Behounek, Berwyn, Illinios
Use a natural wood background Jay Selway, Jumbie Industries, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Use silver or gold—or another special effect Bert Quimby, Bert Graphix, Riverdale, New Jersey

8 design ideas you can put to work today

By signcraft

Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017

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The pressures of a busy work day don’t always lend themselves to coming up with new design ideas. It’s easy to get into a rut, depending on the same design tricks to add interest to your work. The quickest way out of that rut is to borrow a little inspiration from other creative sign people. Seeing what they’ve done to set a certain sign apart often sparks new ideas in your own mind.

Here are eight such ideas, ready for you to incorporate into your next design project. Not only are they easy concepts, but every single one gives you an opportunity to upsell the customer to a sign with more visual appeal. It’s win-win: the customer gets a sign that has more value and you get additional profits.

Many customers can come up with a little additional money in their sign budget if you can show them how their sign will stand out from the crowd. These are cool ideas that they would never think of, but may gladly pay more for once you show them what can be done.

Split the background. Bob Behounek used the primary text to divide the background, then used two different colors for it. The primary copy got a big push forward, and the otherwise simple sign took on a much more unique look.

Bump the graphics off the surface. 3-D graphics always make a sign more interesting, but not everyone can afford a full 3-D sign. Cathy Krommenhoek often “bumps out” a graphic on standoffs, adding dimension without adding a lot of expense.

Use silver or gold—or another special effect. Sign painters have long known that using gold or silver leaf on lettering dramatically boosted its appeal. Bert Quimby often does this on truck doors. If you’re working with vinyl, consider 22K RealGold vinyl or another special effect film.

Look for ways to turn a sign into a storefront design. Brian Stoddard used three trim boards on this project to do just that. It makes the sign look and feel bigger, and draws more attention to the sign.

Give posts a hand hewn look. A bold, sturdy post adds mass to a sign, and that draws the eyes of viewers. Brian Schofield heightened that effect by using a mallet and chisel to make this cedar post appear to be hand hewn. Wrought-iron brackets complete the look.

Use a natural wood background. Wood is beautiful and you can use that beauty to ramp up a sign’s visual appeal. Jay Selway does it often, as he did on this sign—laminating heart pine planks for the panel.

Turn interior signs into wall prints. Why limit interior graphics to just a sign when you can do digital prints that cover the entire wall? Doug Downey printed the sign, the striped background and even the tile border here, transforming the plain cream walls.

Try a rust patina as the background. We often strive for perfectly smooth painted backgrounds, but the raw, natural look of rust can add a lot of interest to a sign. Giampiero Giovanelli often uses corten steel, which is meant to weather and rust, for backgrounds and panels. If steel isn’t practical, there are coatings that rust and look great. See Choosing Paints and Finishes in the March/April 2017 issue for a list.

All these ideas came out of the March/April issue of SignCraft Magazine. You’ll find dozens more in that issue—and every issue—of SignCraft. Subscribe today!

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