“Inspiration comes in many forms,” I thought to myself, as I headed to Orlando, FL to attend the 2018 Intl. Sign Assn.’s Sign Expo. I was in search of the answer to a nagging question: Does it make sense for designers to attend this tradeshow?
Of course, Orlando itself is filled with the top-notch signs you’d expect from a major tourist destination. But would the expo’s main floor feature enough beautiful designs or clever products to hold a designer’s interest, let alone provide inspiration?
Descending the escalator and entering the convention hall put you squarely in front of the Signs of the Times booth. Top Tip: Grab a free copy of our current issue and put it in your swag-bag for later. There’s plenty of inspiration there, IMHO.
Nearby, MultiCam was hosting the 2018 Sign Invitational, the annual ode to creativity. All of the artful entries were on display. Top Tip: Introduce yourself to Dan Sawatzky, Jim Dawson, Gary Johnson or any of the other elite designers on duty there. They are happy to discuss specific techniques or share the interesting backstories of many projects.
Venture deeper into the show floor, and marvel at the high-technology. The large-format 3D printer on display at Massivit’s entertaining booth, for example. Watch with other enthralled attendees as these attractive signs are created, as if by magic. Top Tip: The software these designs require before printing adds support elements (buttresses) where it identifies a potential weakness. In other words, designers don’t have to be structural engineers to create these attention- getters.
All around, demonstrations of pinstriping, routing, wrapping, laser engraving and large-format printing (among other things) are constant reminders of the multitude of design disciplines that the sign industry encompasses. Top Tip: These demos have Q&A sessions; ask design-related questions for an even deeper understanding of specific creative issues.
So yes, attending the Sign Expo is worth the trip for designers. Inspiration does come in many forms.
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