So what do you do when your the new kid on the block in a room full of the most creative sign makers in the world? Well, you sit and listen to all of them of course…
That is what I did at least. I have been watching and hearing about the contestants for months, so of course, I was going to pick their brains! Only I really didn’t have to ask or pry they openly started giving tons of advice, tips and tricks right out of the gate. That’s what makes this industry great. They were excited to share their knowledge and thought process and they enjoyed learning about my background as well.
So here is some wisdom bestowed upon me by the Sign Makers and sponsors of the Sign Invitational 2016.
One of the first I met was Roger Cox and Periandros Damoulis from House of Signs in Colorado. We stayed in the same hotel and had lunch together on set up day. I watched for hours as the two of them kept pulling out part after part after part for their sculpture. It took them over 6 hours to put that thing together and was very well worth it in my opinion. I sat next to Rodger at lunch and honestly he picked my brain more than anything. But I learned from Rodger it is okay being diverse. It’s okay to know a little about everything because honestly it is helpful. Rodger told me they had a girl similar at his shop and he thinks its absolutely fantastic at the amount of things she can do.
The next sign artist I met Phil Vanderkratts and Donna Shriver from Signs by Van. They first tormented me by shipping their sculpt with packing peanuts which ended up everywhere…. I have forgiven them for that. Anyways, those two pretty much put a piece of foam in my hands along with a chisel and started showing me how to carve woodgrain. Without hesitation they started right in showing me what to do. We also became Facebook friends quickly and they want me to send them progress shots of my carving. Donna also kept checking up on me since we were two of the few females in this sea of men and we both came from similar background doing graphic design and marketing and now find ourselves sign makers.
Doug Haffner from Haffner’s Fantastic Creations was my next encounter…. He simply is very entertaining and pretty much a walking sitcom. The things that man says and does are pretty much hilarious. I found myself laughing so hard I couldn’t breath at times. I sat next to Doug at several meals talking Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones , Face/Off and Jim Henson and pretty much learned from Doug it is okay to be yourself and to be comfortable with yourself. After all we only have one life so we might as well make it a fun one.
Kellie Miller of Coastal Enterprises was a sponsor and now a woman I can call a friend. She showed me the inner workings of trade shows and showed me around a bit. Kellie gave me some amazing advice since I am just starting out in this field and showed me sometimes dynamite comes in small packages. Her best advice was “Don’t let people walk all over you, they will be surprised at all you can do.”
Peter Sawatzky has a absolute amazing laugh that belongs to a cartoon character. After learning Peter wanted to be a teacher before his recent endeavors, showed me sometimes life doesn’t go how you planned it. He wanted to be a teacher it didn’t work out, it was not for him and now he’s creating works of art daily. Just shows life doesn’t go as planned but sometimes it can put you on the course to something greater.
Dan Sawatzky….. I have been watching and reading his blogs for a few years, back when I first started freelancing for Jim. It was really cool to meet him after following him for so long. Dan is a very down to earth guy and incredibly nice. He helped inspire and get many of the people in the Sign Invitational started in sign making with his workshops. Besides learning he is a cut-throat go-kart driver, Dan put in perspective to me what I really want to do in life. I want to be a artist, simply put and I get to do that everyday here at the shop.
So I learned a lot from all of these wonderful individuals and I hope to keep learning more from all of them.