User login

Pumped Up

(January 2017) posted on Wed Jan 25, 2017

A vintage-inspired labor of love fueled the first sign invitational competition

By Roger Cox

click an image below to view slideshow

"One theme. Endless possibilities.” The tagline for the first-ever Sign Invitational that accompanied an offer to our shop to compete, sparked our imagination at House of Signs (Frisco, CO) back in October 2015. We were to be one of only 20 shops to participate in the inaugural event of a friendly competition to both celebrate and show off the myriad, creative commercial sign designs made possible using modern materials, tools and techniques. The projects would be unveiled and judged during the ISA Expo in Orlando in April 2016.

The specific theme of the competition was the brilliant Rube Goldberg (1883-1970), the American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks. The build envelope had to be 2 x 2 x 6 ft., with the display to be placed on a pedestal. Likewise, the top of the display had to fit inside the bottom, so a 2 x 2 x 3-ft. top had to fit inside the same-sized base. Entries could not move mechanically, but lights and sound were allowed. Most importantly, the word “sign” had to be incorporated into the design. Fourteen esteemed competitors, all of whose presence were required at the expo, answered the call to compete. Periandros Damoulis, Steve Huyler, Bonnie Norling-Wakeman and I proudly represented House of Signs.

At our shop, we thought up tons of concepts across months of creative design sessions, but our affinity for the retro era determined our ultimate direction. We set out to create the most complicated-to-build and embellished vintage fuel pump on the planet, and to fabricate nearly the entire piece from various thicknesses and densities of HDU. We not only wanted to challenge ourselves with this goal, but also show others what can be created with, predominantly, 3D layers of urethane.

Researching reference material for our retro gas tank project was an extremely enjoyable throw-back to life in the 1940’s and ’50s. Astounding design aesthetic came out of this era, along with fabulous color palettes and unparalleled attention to detail. Our reference folder soon became a smorgasbord of retro eye-candy, and we couldn’t wait to begin designing our five-sided invention/sculpture/sign/art piece.


Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.