Rich Sign Co. Makes Its Mark
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All Signs Point to ThisOctober 2015
By Jen May Pastores
Ever look for a sign to point you in the right direction? A suggestive mark that assures you that you’re exactly where you need to be? For craftsman Brian Rich, signs aren’t spelled out in the skies on a billowing banner or expressed on a thin piece of paper inside a fortune cookie. Signs, in his case, are found on larger-than-life canvases of reclaimed wood and corrugated metal that he shapes, paints and builds for individuals and businesses around Tulare County. “It’s a hobby that’s turned into a job that I enjoy. I wasn’t really looking for it. It just happened,” says Rich.
This great luck and happenstance is the start of Rich Sign Co, a sign-making service that’s swiftly stamping his style of classic signs across the South Valley. You may have seen his work perched on buildings, including Pita Kabob Gastropub in downtown Visalia, the Gardens Nursery in Tulare, Le Boulevard coffee shop across from the College of Sequoias, or his recently crafted sign for Exeter Meats. Each is handmade without the use of plastic or vinyl, like many modern signs use today. Instead, Rich brings back to the shop the purity of creating old-fashioned pieces reminiscent of days gone past where small-towners used to horseback ride to the nearest general store or saloon.
“Working with old wood is authentic,” says Rich. “I always liked antiques, classic cars and old signs growing up.” As a man of many talents, Rich’s first love began with his interest in a 1965 Volkswagen, his first car that he attentively worked on back in high school. Having read about the car in magazines, he learned the best ways to care for it and tricked out the car, thoroughly restoring it inside and out. His eye for detail led him to other auto detailing opportunities for other aficionados who recognized his show-quality level of performance. Soon enough, Rich made a name for himself as Brian Rich Complete Auto Detail through word of mouth.
More than two years ago, a different word traveled through his network when he posted a photo on Facebook of one of his first signs that he built for a local shop, Williams Street Rods. Rich credits social media for helping to grow his hobby from experimenting with materials in the garage to professionally designing signs for commercial businesses. “How do you argue with free advertisement?” Rich asks as he displays his Instagram feed on his phone and explains how he updates it as a work portfolio for new clients.
Many customers from his auto detailing work carried into his signage trade, proving Rich’s ability to market himself through the relationships that he’d built from a flat-out, genuine desire to know and serve his community. “Always keep the doors open with your contacts,” adds Rich. Soon after his first project, he had a handful of requests for custom orders – anything from rustic sheet metal signs for Christmas presents to old Hollywood glam signs with letters that light up. J Studio inside of Envie Boutique in downtown Visalia was his first lit-up sign, followed by Glitz Nail Bar.
Rich’s technique involves using wood and metal as his base and applying a reverse stencil for the text or logo with a decorative coating, especially with Annie Sloan chalk paint, a medium that’s stood against the outdoor elements and sun, an important feature for outdoors signs. His go-to inspiration is anything cool and classic – he prefers to stay away from using the word vintage, because his unique character stands on its own.
“A classic look is timeless. It won’t go out of style,” says Rich.
Rich Sign Co., Tulare • (559) 679-7435
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