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Editor's Note

Our Annual Sign Contest Provides Time Capsules of Design Excellence

In this year’s edition, you’ll notice some familiar winners, and also some new ones.




WHEN YOU WANT to shake things up, you try something new. Several years ago, we changed several rules and the name of our annual sign contest. The goals were to encourage more sign companies to enter, particularly small shops that might have felt they couldn’t compete against million-dollar projects. We feel we’ve largely accomplished that by now, and so we’ve streamlined the name and rules again — especially because this year’s entries were completed despite the pandemic’s restrictions.

And so we bring you our 2021 Sign Contest in all its glory: some familiar winners, some new ones. That’s what we hope for — continuity with new flavors. If you’ve been following the contest for any of its 40-plus years across five decades, you’ll have noticed the gradual changes in the winners’ styles, materials, subject matters and more. As such, the contest acts as a snapshot, capturing the best of design and fabrication at a given moment, to compare to the past and to inspire the future.

In addition, one more adaptation we’re making (on staff) is replacing Managing Editor Grant Freking, who left Signs of the Times last month to pursue a new career opportunity. Having started in February 2017, Grant has not only been absolutely brilliant with everything we’ve asked of him and more; he’s also become a great friend — the kind of person you don’t mind getting stuck with in airports during trade-show travel — which were some of the times Grant and I got to know each other the best.

We want our friends to succeed and that includes our friends in the industry. Maybe you’ll know a company or two among the winners of this Sign Contest, which was just about Grant’s “last kick of the game” for Signs of the Times. I’d say our winners and Grant have scored another game-winner.

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5 Smart Tips from This Issue

  1. Save money with a combination CNC router-finishing machine. (Tech Products)
  2. Be proactive and flexible to be prepared for both bad times and good. (30 Lessons Learned from COVID)
  3. Sell your customers on partial wraps that don’t look like they’re just partials. (Mark Kissling)
  4. Design neon signs to hide the cables and wires customers don’t want to see. (Mars Bravo)
  5. Set a minimum transaction size to avoid small, unprofitable jobs. (Maggie Harlow)





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