Sign Invitational 2019 Update from Dan Sawatzky

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to host guest blogs written by some of the signage industry’s biggest movers and shakers, posted to the Precision Board Blog.  This guest blog is written by Dan Sawatzky with Imagination Corporation in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  This month, Dan gives us an update on his 2019 ISA Sign Invitational entries (made with a variety of materials, including PBLT-30) and some insight into his creative process, especially when it comes to the little details that pull the entire story into focus.

sign invitational

In Dan Sawatzky’s own words…

The fourth annual Sign Invitational at the International Sign Association EXPO is to be held on April 24-26 in Las Vegas. That means the pressure is on to finish up my pieces and I have no doubt the others in the competition are busy as well. I am doing two entries this year. Because I am twice defending champion I suspect everyone will be putting their best foot forward and I’ll be ready with my attempts in answer.

The contest is being hosted by Signs of the Times Magazine, booth number 2135 at the show. There will be four large entries on display and five small ones in the smaller table top/wall mount category.

My first piece is in the large category with the build envelope measuring 2’ x 2’ x 6’ tall. That leaves a lot of room for creativity and a ton of detail. Over the last year (since the last Sign Invitational) I have been putting in a few hours each week building the clockmaker’s factory. Although I had a fairly firm plan in mind when I started, I knew I would be adding a bunch of little things as I went, all in the service of telling the fun story. I finished the bulk of the sculpting some time ago and then began painting and glazing which brought the building to life. As I worked I would think up some little idea and then I would sculpt a little more, then go back to painting. That process is almost complete and I am very happy with the efforts so far. This piece has an incredible amount of detail packed into every square inch.

sign invitational

We love detail in our shop. And it is sometimes surprising how much the seemingly mundane items make the story believable. Our journey begins on the ground floor of the building. Beside the well worn front stone steps is a scooter, leaned up against a no parking sign. A somewhat beat up garbage can is tucked in the corner. A rusty down pipe drains the roof. Around back the delivery truck is parked against the wood decked loading bay. I still have to add a dolly load of boxes to that area. On the other side of the building is the ancient and well used steam boiler. We can almost feel the heat wave and hear the steam hiss from the rusty rivets. (A hidden miniature smoke machine will provide that effect when it is at the show.) Loose rocks and bricks litter the area and even more details are yet to be added. It is amazing just how much you can squeeze into a space two feet square.

The second, smaller category has a build envelope of 3’ x 3’ x ?.  The ‘official’ rules leave this dimension as a question mark and open to interpretation. On my piece it is 17” deep.  It can be either table or wall mounted. I am building an entry for that category as well although it will not be officially entered in the competition. Instead the time piece will be on display in the Coastal Enterprises booth (#860) as a way to help promote the competition at the show. Precision Board has been a proud and enthusiastic sponsor from the very first year.

This piece is well on the way to being finished. I routed the last component today using a small piece of PBLT-30 Precision Board HDU of course. This piece is called ‘Slowing down time’ and is the back side of a large steam driven clock. There is still some sculpting to complete for this piece and I will also be building a small table/stand for the display.

Both pieces have been a great deal of fun with no clients holding me back or trying to art direct my efforts. I am enjoying the leisurely process of both of these builds and this approach has allowed me to go completely wild in the process. I look forward to seeing all the other entries at the Sign Invitational and welcome everyone to come and cast a vote for their favourite.

Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation is a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous national and international awards.

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force and visual storyteller extraordinaire. His art career spans almost fifty years of magic. Dan’s passion is to design and create imaginative places that take people from the normal world to a setting of delight and wonder.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.