Signwriter

Baker

 

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Practical or MechanicalArtistic or CreativeSkill Level 1Skill Level 2Skill Level 3

Signwriters design, paint, manufacture and install signs for displays, buildings, shopping complexes, signboards, boats, vehicles and structures.

Signwriters design, make, paint and install signs for a variety of commercial, industrial and practical purposes. They consult with their client about the type of sign they need, select the materials required, then plan and design the required piece. They may draw or paint signs, make three-dimensional lettering for signs, make screen Decline printed signs, and bend glass to make illuminated signs. They cut board and metal to size, prepare the surfaces so that lettering and other designs can be applied, and clean the sign once it has been manufactured. They may also seal the finished sign with a spray or clear vinyl material.

ANZSCO description: ID 399611 - Signwriter : Designs, fabricates and paints signs for displays, buildings, hoardings, boats and structures. Registration or licensing may be required.

Alternative names: Sign and Graphics Industry Worker; Signmaker

Specialisations: Sign Manufacturer

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • interest and ability in drawing and design

  • organisational and analytical skills

  • willing to work at heights

  • good eyesight (may be corrected) and normal colour vision

  • good oral and written communication skills

  • aptitude for working with computers

  • good at working with hands

  • willing to work both indoors and outdoors

Signwriter working
(Source: Good Universities Guide)

Duties & Tasks

Signwriters may perform the following tasks:

  • talk to clients to find out their requirements and provide digital images or miniature colour sketches if required

  • conferring with clients and responding to proposals, sketches and written instructions to determine composition of signs

  • designing and creating signs and graphics using computer software and signmaking machines

  • designing and creating signs by measuring and calculating letter size, preparing the surface, applying background paint using brushes, sprays and rollers, and creating the letters using brushes, stencils, enamel paint and decals

  • select suitable materials for signs such as adhesive vinyls, LEDs and LCDs, timber, plastic, metal or glass

  • prepare surfaces (by filling any holes, sanding and cleaning)

  • mix oil paint, enamel, plastic paint, poster colour or varnish

  • digitally design, sketch or draw letters and images with a template (pattern), paint the background (if required) and paint or print the sign

  • painting signs on brick, metal, timber, glass, plastic and other surfaces

  • create two-dimensional or three-dimensional lettering using router, laser or rotary engraving, as well as graphics using computer- operated machinery

  • design custom vehicle art, wall murals, screen prints and gold-leaf work

  • preparing cost estimates for labour and materials

  • may erect and work on scaffolding

  • may install signs on-site

Modern Sign Writing
(Source: Attic Signs)

Working conditions

​Signmakers work both indoors and outdoors, and spend some time on ladders or scaffolding. They may be required to work in confined spaces or use toxic substances.

Signwriters may work in workshops or studios developing designs, then visit clients in shops and other businesses to install the finished product. They work in a variety of weather conditions, and may be exposed to paint or chemical fumes. They usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours at times, such as to install signs for businesses. Signwriters may work individually or as part of a design and installation team.


Tools and technologies

Signwriters may use traditional enamel paints and paintbrushes to paint signs by hand, or they may use computer-aided design (CAD) software to produce two or three-dimensional signs or illumnated signs. They also use drawing and measuring equipment to plan their work. They work with materials such as aluminium, glass, perspex and plastic, stainless steel, wood and vinyl. They use ladders, scaffolding and hand and power tools to install the signs, and may also use some electrical equipment to install illuminated signs. They also use scanning, printing and laminating technology to transfer images onto their signs.

 
Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become a signmaker you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in Signage. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

The signwriter (sign manufacturer) apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.


Employment Opportunities for a Signmaker


Most signmakers are self-employed. Others work for signwriting firms or industrial and commercial firms. Most jobs are in metropolitan areas. Competition for apprenticeship positions is strong. Technological changes and computer-aided production have significantly reduced the workforce.

Did You Know?


Sign Painters - a Documentary Movie - Official Trailer
https://youtu.be/eM0GjThMsug



Sign Painters: Keepers of the Craft
https://youtu.be/WERxaR1C30o



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