The Doctor Is In

Star Signs helps a Kansas City skin-care product purveyor turn heads.
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Dr. Audrey Kunin, the dermatologist who founded Dermadoctor and its flagship, Kansas City-based retail store, uses her medical expertise a somewhat different approach than the typical purveyor of beauty-care products. Rather than treating the company’s offerings as mere beauty products, she also publishes a newsletter, and via, answers a variety of skin-care and wellness questions.
Reflective of her unique company, Kunin wanted her to store’s signage to convey a distinctive identity. The company enlisted the Kansas City office of nationwide building contractor J.E. Dunn to build the store. Subsequently, J.E. Dunn awarded the contract to Star Signs (Lawrence, KS) to produce the 24 x 11-ft. sign.

The sign’s design entailed converting Dermadoctor’s existing logo, which the company used for POP and product-packaging graphics, into a blade sign. Star produced detailed shop drawings that specified internal and accent lighting, face materials, mounting hardware and its internal structure.

The signface comprises 0.125-in. aluminum, with the feminine icon fabricated with push-through acrylic and a first-surface digital print produced on Mimaki JV-3 130 solvent-ink printer. Although Star originally specified LEDs, the client requested neon. The sign includes approximately 90 linear feet of EGL 6500 Designer White neon and, 140, 11W, incandescent bulbs outline the face. Star Signs contracted Weitz Sign (Dubuque, IA), a wholesale manufacturer, to build the sign.

Situated on McGee St. in Kansas City’s Crossroads District, the store resides amidst the burg’s arts and entertainment epicenter. According to Scott Wagner, Star’s public-relations representative, Dermadoctor’s large, 3-D, illuminated sign differs from the neighborhood norm. Therefore, it required a variance for what city officials termed “excessive” size, and special permits to comply with historical-neighborhood and district regulations. Reviews were required by several agencies and organizations – players included Missouri Power & Light; Kansas City’s historical review board, traffic division and arts commission; the Neighborhood Resources Board; and, of course, the building inspector and sign code board of appeals.

The job posed challenges because the older building where Dermadoctor set up its shingle included no engineering specs of blueprints. Thus, no information existed on the building’s structural integrity or what fixtures lurked beneath the walls. Star collaborated with JE Dunn to develop a suitable anchoring system. Also, because of the sign’s proximity to a traffic light, using a crane to hoist the sign into place required extreme care.