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Need a little inspiration? Here is someone still enthusiastic after 30 years in the graphics business!

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field?

A: I am the Design & Text Editor for a local commercial sign company. I have been in the publishing, printing and graphic arts field for over 30 years.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: Once a client comes to us with his signage needs, we gather all info needed to begin the project. This may include, but not limited to, any logo design - from initial company branding to transferring their current logo into the sign(s) they are looking to produce. Asking what they wish to achieve with their signage. Whether it is to promote a new business in town, or an existing company that might need temporary banners or ground signs marking a special event, sale or other message that they would like to promote. Gathering all pertinent info including wording, address, phone numbers and website info, or any other specific content the customer wants included in his signage project.

We then discuss the "substrates" available to produce the sign(s) - wood, aluminum, high-density foam or other materials used in the process. We also offer restoration of existing signs, as well as, hand-lettering of windows, vehicles or brick storefronts. Attention to detail is paramount in any graphic design job - from printed material to website design. Check and double-check has always worked for me! Once the design and elements are decided upon, the customer reviews a proof. Any necessary revisions are made and re-sent for final approval. Don't be afraid to include extra charges when revisions go beyond a normal expectation. Your time is valuable. But don't forget...the customer is ALWAYS right!!!!

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I rate my enthusiasm at a 7. The biggest challenge in this industry, is to keep the work coming! One can wear many hats in this business! And there are many times I march myself out "there" and seek out customers that I feel may need our services, even if they don't know it!

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I get great satisfaction when a client walks away with the perfect product. They're excited and happy and my input and assistance helped to get them there! I began in the business back in 1976 - I've seen the evolution in technology and the ever-changing trends in design. Yes, I've found my calling!

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: The joy of the graphics industry is the diversity of jobs available. If you can't "design" today, you can always write. If you can't "write" today, you can always proofread! And in any industry you can go out and network - you'll always come back to the office with something. From a simple business card design to a corporate signage package!

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I graduated from high school in 1975. I worked for a realtor for about a year, and although interesting, my heart wasn't in it. My father had a good friend who owned and operated a large off-set printing company started by his father back in the 1920s. They were looking for a "typesetter." Well, I took typing and was capable of 100 words per minute, so I went to talk with him. I loved the printing business from that point on! I offered the job and got my apprenticeship within 1 year! The only thing I may have done then, is what I've done since then, go back to class, take courses in writing and design...workshops have been such a help to me over the years.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this hard-learned lesson?

A: I've learned many hard lessons throughout my career. You need to have a tough-skin. Designers are very emotional and feelings can be hurt. Although it is rarely a personal issue, when our work has been criticized or rejected we can take it to heart. We may become defensive or petty and this can lead to segregating ourselves from the "team." Not a pleasant place! In my current position, only a few months ago, I was so excited to get a particular project, that I didn't take enough time to research the costing of such a project. My bid was way below several other sign shops...we got the job...but we also "ate" about $400.00. OUCH - it never feels good. Again, check and double-check all aspects of your responsibilities.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: No one is indispensible!

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: A police department wanted the doors of their cruisers re-lettered, including reproducing the city emblem. I indicated we would need a clean copy of their city emblem logo so we could scan and reproduce the graphic. He said no problem and showed up with an actual car door, showing a "clean" image of the logo!!! He thought we could just scan it there and then! We ultimately got it straightened out, but it was funny!

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: Of course, for the income! But being able to earn a living doing what I love is all I've ever focused on!

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you really want to pull your hair out?

A: Again, when working with a group of artistic folks, your ideas are not always accepted and when someone else's ideas or designs selected, you can't help but imagine the possible problems with their choice. However, it is usually best to keep your mouth shut! Pull hair out in private!

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?

A: Stress is a fact of work! No matter the field. Don't take criticism to heart, learn from your mistakes and enjoy a healthy balance of family and friends.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: I honestly made a bit more money several years ago. The economy took a turn and I'm now salaried and average $15 per hour. I maintain a comfortable life, and my personality does not lend itself to a constant need for retail therapy!

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: I average 2 weeks a year. And can usually manage several long weekends throughout.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: Again, keep updated on new software, design trends and a writing course is essential!

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Go for it! Every day is different, your creativity will grow and your style is always appreciated.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: Being able to freelance - picking the projects I'd love to be involved with and of course, hanging with family and friends more often!