“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” | Pablo Picasso
In the short time since we’ve started we’ve realized one thing about the creative process; it can be very difficult.
A quick scroll through our Instagram page shows the hundreds of signs we’ve created and delivered. It doesn’t show the literal hours that go into creating each and every single one. So I thought I’d take some time and share how our process works.
Nearly every item we create begins as a custom order. Since we decided at the very beginning that we didn’t want to use order forms, we usually begin by receiving a message in our inbox. It’s an idea or an inquiry from a customer asking if we can do something. Here we discuss what the sign will say, the exact words, layout, size, design proofs and corrections, colors, and expected date of completion.
The truth is this can be a lengthy conversation where the customer usually apologizes at least once for being so picky. Our response to this is always the same – “BE PICKY!” We want you to be picky. Pickiness gives us direction. It provides specifics for us. We want to create something just for you. It’s going to be something we spend several hours over standing in front of and something you’re going to pay money to get made. We want to get it right for you, as much as we do for ourselves.
After the details are hammered out and invoices are sent (and hopefully paid), the real work begins on the piece. Depending on the order this can mean sanding down planks of reclaimed wood or sawing up pieces of construction-grade scraps.
It’s all measured and assembled in our own garage. Each plank of wood is hand-sanded and run over with bare hands to make sure it’s smooth for sketching and paint.
When the piece is built to its specified size and all the wood is painted or sanded, it’s time to sketch. There are several ways to do this and everyone swears their way is the right way. Some sign painters do theirs free-hand and some just use vinyl cut-outs. To each his own.
We have our own process of creating a digital image then “tiling” the image to be printed. Then we sketch the image onto the sign using carbon paper.
Be aware, this is a lengthy process. The layout alone can take some time as each item has to be measured and moved several times before it is ready to sketch. Every line and outline is gone over by hand to leave its impression on the wood underneath.
After the paper is removed and the sign combed over to ensure the impression is the exact replica of the digital image, it is ready to paint.
For my wife and I this means settling in somewhere comfortable with a brush and plastic cup of acrylic paint. This part of our process is usually reserved for late nights after our kids are asleep. We’ll binge watch a series or catch up on our DVR’d episodes while we paint.
This is my favorite part of it all, where the most dramatic change happens. Where once there were just a few pieces of wood screwed together, there now starts to appear shapes and lines and a message. It’s no longer just raw materials but becoming something with meaning.
After the final brush strokes are added we let it all dry then get it ready for delivery. We add a tag and ship it off. Hopefully someone enjoys it in their home as much as we enjoyed making it in ours.