October 2020 Letter to the Editor

Keith R. Davis of KRD Design (Chester Spring, PA) writes in.

Keith R. Davis of KRD Design (Chester Spring, PA) sent the following message after reading Editor-in-Chief Robin Donovan’s “From the Editor” column from our August 2020 issue.

I am intrigued by your editorial and webinar [“Recruiting + Training the Next Generation of Signmakers”] on the next generation of talent for the industry. This is certainly something that gets talked about a lot in sign industry circles. The biggest running joke is that no one actually sets out to work in this business: you’re either born into it, or fall … into it trying to do something else. The reality is, because of these reasons, there is a huge pool of potential talent that likely ends up in other industries due to better kinds of “feeders.”

For manufacturing: [vocational-technical] programs focused on automotive training, HVAC and electrical work. Even welders are likely learning the trade with thoughts of being an iron worker in construction, or maybe metal fab, but certainly not working in a signshop.

Design is not immune to this either. There are only a handful of college-level programs focused on EGD [environmental graphic design] and even less that actually offer it as a major. Most people set off trying to do print or web design, only to wind up taking a job in the sign business. From an education perspective, though, nearly all EGD work has to be learned on the job and most people don’t even know the discipline exists. 

I think ISA’s Sign Manufacturing Day [held on Oct. 2] is a great way to raise awareness to those at a high school level. For my part, I have been trying to do speaking sessions to high school and college students about EGD as a discipline, too. Perhaps the more that try and do this kind of outreach, the more talent we can catch before they go into something else.

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