If you are a creative individual and love working with words then a career as a Signwriter could be for you. A job as a Signwriter is varied but the main responsibility is to create signage for companies, buildings and vehicles. Other tasks can include preparing surfaces for signwriting, creating traditional signs by hand and calculating measurements to layout lettering.
So what exactly is a day at work like for a Signwriter? And what can you do to try and secure a job in this field? Jobulo speaks to Michelle Henry, Director at hns signs, to find out more about this career path.
Tell Us About Your Career Background?
I am a 4th generation Signwriter, so I have always made signs. My grandparents used to encourage me to make signs for my friends’ bedroom doors from a very young age. Every school holiday I would come in and help, so by the time I came to higher education, I was a little bored with signs. I decided to read Law and completed a LLB at Keele University with Business Administration.
What Made You Want to Become a Signwriter?
Whilst travelling in Australia I started working in a sign shop and realised how much I had missed it. I love it! I find it so relaxing and love getting to be creative and being paid for it. With it being a family tradition it also has a deeper importance to me. I have my great grandfather’s book on how to write signs which dates back to 1895. It is one of my most treasured possessions and you will often find me leafing through it.
How Did You Break Into The Industry?
When I returned from travelling I started working for another sign company. Unfortunately they fell into receivership and so I decided to go it alone. I purchased the assets from the company’s liquidators, found another business to share a premises with and started networking. It was the best decision that I ever made.
Do You Need Specific Qualifications For This Role?
You can do an NVQ apprenticeship in Signwriting, but there are no standalone qualifications for this job. You simply have to learn on the job – there is no other way. A good knowledge of computers is needed and a good eye for design is desired. It also helps to be physically fit as you will be required to spend a lot of time on site installing signs, fitting vinyl’s or doing traditional signwriting (hand painted signs.) I love that you are always learning in this industry. There is always new technology to master, new vehicle wraps and the sign industry is great at providing courses on everything from fabrication to vehicle wrapping.
What’s a Typical Day Like at Work?
I am generally in the office for 7.30am. I use this time to type up quotations and do any correspondence. Until we had our own graphic designer, I would also use this time to draw-up any artwork for approval. At 9am, I catch up with the team and check that we are on schedule for all jobs and see if they need my help with anything (I love being on the shop floor and will use any excuse to get my hands dirty.) Apart from that there is no such thing as a typical day! No two days are the same in this industry! In any day, I can be up ladders or on a tower signwriting, out seeing customers or conducting site surveys, networking, making promotional videos, working on strategies or just helping with fabrication and design.
What’s the Best Part of the Job?
For me, it is how varied this industry is. We don’t want to be your regular signwriters. We strive to be different. To be more creative, quirky, cutting edge and funky. To achieve this, we spend time trying out new ideas and techniques. It keeps us passionate about what we do and others in the industry on their toes.
Toughest Part of the Job?
Tight deadlines! We often get asked to turn around large jobs in short time-frames. We aim to please and will always do all that we can to help, so this often means working long hours to meet our customers’ demands. It can be demanding and tiring, but we get great satisfaction in making our customers happy.
What Career Advice Would You Give to Someone Wanting to Work In This Industry?
Try it out first. It isn’t for everyone. You will be expected to work at heights, on construction sites and in less than desirable weather conditions. You need to be able to learn fast and think on your feet. If it is for you, then research the company that you want to work for. Some companies can be very departmentalised. This is great if you want to concentrate on one or two aspects, but if you want to learn everything, then you need to find a company who promotes this.
If a Candidate Applied for a Job at hns signs, What Would You Want to See on Their CV?
Great I.T. skills, a proven record of team work, NO SPELLING MISTAKES! You would be surprised how many CV’s we receive with spelling mistakes. We also want to see that they are passionate and creative. Good level of maths is also essential as you will have to work out dimensions.