Balancing your life and your sign work

By Bob Behounek

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2023

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While visiting with some good friends of mine the other day, we started reviewing our “work-to-fun ratios.” When this subject comes up in conversation, I can’t help but feel satisfied about the good mix of both I enjoy now.

I can remember those times when all I did was work from sunup to sundown. The scenario was that everything needed to get done NOW, resulting in an overload of tightly scheduled deadlines. Managing time for fun was not even an option. It seems though, the older we get the more balanced our lifestyle needs to be.

As sign people designing balanced, functional signs we utilize many elements: contrasts of color, shapes, type and proportion. We strive for balance, rhythm and harmony in our layouts. Life in general is very similar to this. Just think how our lives would be without balance, rhythm and harmony. We, like our poor signage, would fall flat on our face.

Enjoying a variety of activities and interests helps keep us charged up creatively, and prevents future burnout problems. There are so many things to see, places to visit and inspirations to absorb outside the confines of our sign shops.

If we are realistic with ourselves, “fun time” can and should be totally unstructured, if possible. This allows our minds to work and be their most creative during this break. I think it’s important to allow the mind to be shut off and free. Such times let the pieces fall into place.

I, for one, do not want to fall on my face from an out of balance work-to-fun mixture. Sign people of yesterday are no different than those of the present, working to create a good living for themselves and their families.

I’ve known many sign painters who would take every job, sometimes making a sign for almost nothing just to get the work. You would see them doing every job possible then, poof! They would be mysteriously missing in action, never to be seen again. Yes, burnout at the highest level.

Composing the best design for our lives is not easy. Try getting away more and watch how it affects your creativity and enjoyment levels at work. Find other interests both related and unrelated to the sign business.

For those of us who have “vinylized” our businesses 100 percent and stopped hand painting, try getting the brushes back out. You’ll be amazed at how relaxing it is to use that brush and paint again. It will almost put you in a trance like a good easy chair can. Try it—I guarantee you will like it.

Looking back over some of our past projects, I can’t help think about transferring some of that good balance back into my sign work. Balance generates positive energy and helps me have fun with the work I have enjoyed all these years.

Yes, the sign business has changed—and it’s going to keep changing. We must change our attitudes and make an effort to balance those work-to-fun relationships. It will help keep us healthier, happier and more creative individuals.


Bob Behounek has spent over 40 years as a sign artist and pinstriper in the Chicago, Illinois, area.