What’s in a name?

One of my most challenging tasks these days is to dream up name plaques for each of the attendees at our Sign Magic Workshops. While it would be easy to simply type out each name and then create the routing files I try to do a little better that. My own name plate above is a good example of what I am trying to do with these pieces. My name is there of course – all lower case as I sign it these days. It’s a cartoon font signifying the type of work I enjoy. Every line on the plaque is wiggly and textured of course – my trademark. But creating a tag for myself is easy. I know who I am and what I am into. It is not nearly that easy to come up with unique plaques that suit each of those who come.

As each person signs up for the workshop I immediately go on a quest for details about them. While this sometimes limited information helps me come up with ideas for the plaque I also do my best to find out more. The better I know my students, the better I am able to teach them. What are they into? What are their hobbies? What are their current abilities? Where do they come from?

I jot down the details I manage to gather… then set to work creating the dimensional artwork. Sometimes it’s easy. We’ve played host to many folks I’ve known for years. Some I have read about in the sign magazines. Other times it is a real challenge. When I’m really stumped I’ll pick up the phone and talk to them – but don’t come out and tell them why I’ve called. Listening to their voice alone is often enough to spark a cool idea that reflects their personality. Contact is often only by email only meaning I have very little to go on. The web is sometimes a great source of information. Most are business people with websites and there are always clues there to go on. Some are artists who have had showings of their work. Sometimes I simply have to come up with something with little to go on except their name.
Today I started work on six name plaques for the folks that have signed up so far for the workshop in June. In the next series of entries I’ll chronicle the process of design and production on this fun projects…

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Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force in the sign industry. He and his wife Janis are owners of Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation – a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional theme signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous international awards and Dan’s articles appear frequently in the sign trade publications. Dan and his crew also host Sign Magic and Sculpting Workshops in their studio a number of times each year with attendees coming from around the world. For more information please visit www.imaginationcorporation.com

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