View Full Version : Thinking seriously about packing it all in...

10-21-2005, 02:17 AM
I've been working in film and television as a graphics designer/fabricator for the last eighteen years, before that I was a signwriter (although I have'nt touched a brush in over a decade).
I'm forty six years old now, and last Friday I worked a nineteen hour day, half of it thirty feet up in the air on a Z-Boom in the pouring rain re-graphicing a storefront.
This got me to thinking...
Now as much as I like my job, the money and the perks, I've been thinking about what I want to do in the future.
The film business by nature runs very hot and cold, and if you visit any film set you will be hard pressed to find any on-set workers over fifty, as the hours and workload can be horrendous.
I live smack-dab between a big city and the biggest ski resort in north america.
I also have a 500 square foot workshop beside my house, I own a Shopbot Alpha and a 30" vinyl plotter.
What do I do next?...
How do I put these pieces together?
How could I comfortably make the transition from employee to contractor?
If I'm going to do this it has to be worthwhile, I don't want to end up as another bottom feeder sign shop.
If any of you have gone through a similar trasition successfully I'd love to hear from you.

10-21-2005, 07:02 AM

Its totally up to you, as to what you want to do. Do you want to stay in the film industy? Do you want to be a signwriter? I would say you have the local to be more than a bottom feeder sign shop. Located in a big city and near a ski resort, you can probably pick up some good contract work as well as retail work.

What kind of work are you doing now? With the shopbot and such?

The transition from employee to contractor is never an easy one, I don't care what you have in place before it happens. It is a leap of faith.

(I'd be spending too much time on the ski slopes)


Brady Watson
10-21-2005, 06:06 PM
Read here (http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/messages/312/1722.html) and then here (http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/messages/30/6984.html)

Above all else, be sure that you do something that you truly love doing...the rest will fall into place.


10-21-2005, 08:16 PM

Hard to believe that was only a little more than 2 years ago that you were forced to take the plunge. You've come a long way since then and have helped innumerable other folks along the way as well.

The answer to your question comes down to marketing. Anybody with a ShopBot can figure out how to make almost anything, but if you can't sell it it's just an expensive hobby. Since you know the sign business, what about canvassing some of the sign shops to see what they are looking for that they can't find, maybe with a few samples in hand of what you think they might be interested in. Or visit cabinetmakers and other craftspeople to see about providing cut parts and custom pieces; or work up some designs and hit the craft show circuit; I could go on but you get the idea.

Best of luck to you,
David B.

10-24-2005, 12:05 AM
Thanks for the words of encouragement guys!
It sounds like I may be already thinking along the same lines as some of you...
I like the idea of being a sub-contractor, possibly to other sign shops, I'd also like to find some "heavy repeat" customers, rather than having to price/design/cut/fabricate, not to mention "sell" every job that comes through the door.
Sub-contracting would also allow me to do business without a storefront and work directly out of my home workshop.
As I live in a very tourist oriented area I think that the tourism business may be an avenue worth investigating as well.
Thanks again to all that responded, if anybody has other input I'm all ears.
I'm in no hurry to quit my day job, but it sure would be nice to have a business strategy at the ready when the time comes.

10-24-2005, 02:03 AM
The key word is 'business'. Whatever the product or service is, you still have to run a business. If you work for yourself, YOU have to be the boss and YOU have to be responsible for YOUR decisions. A good businessman/person will make money (or find success if money is not the measuring stick), but a poor businessman will struggle, probably without realizing that there are tried and true principles that govern success. Doing what you enjoy makes the long hours bearable, but thinking that you'll work fewer hours as someone who is self-employed is usually just dreaming.

10-24-2005, 02:52 AM
I gave up a lifelong (and lucrative) career at the age of 60 to go out on my own.
2 years later I bought my Shopbot.
One thing I have learned since is, be prepared to change your original ideas if you spot business opportunities.
Be prepared for unexpected, unforeseeable problems along the way. You have to be prepared to work through them.
As for shorter hours!!!
I'm still building the Shopbot side of my business. As I am learning as I go, I can not charge for all the testing and experimenting,particularly with design, drawing and the creation of cutting files.
Having said all that, you are your own boss, you make all the decisions, you succeed or fail on your own merits.
No-one can advise you for or against. It is a very personal decision. My only regret is I didn't make my decision earlier in life.

10-25-2005, 09:30 AM
Just one more voice in the crowd but I certainly agree with all of the above. Its ALL about sales and marketing, once you develop capability and a working knowlege of whatever capacity you have. With your knowlege, skills, and artistic ability I would NOT point towards wholesale. The sale isn't that difficult if you spend time soliciting business from the folks you apparently already know and why give up half of the fun and profit to a wholesale franchisee who knows very little and contributes even less to the process. Sell half as much at twice the price and enjoy life by following your passion.
After all you are an artist and folks who buy at the high end want to meet the artist not some counter boy who takes orders.
Best of luck.