My love boats began in New Zealand when I was 10 years old and my parents decided we were going to move aboard our 36 foot catamaran as a necessity in order to save enough money to immigrate to Australia. For me it was a magic experience, we would go sailing in Whangarei harbour on the weekends with our home, in a different bay each weekend and then returning to the town harbour for school during the week. Art being my favourite subject. I had many boatie friends who did the same and we were kind of the cool group in the school.
I began general signage at the age of 17 in Brisbane’s Bayside area where we did a lot of boats. I was drawn to Signwriting as it wasn’t just a trade to me but also gave me a way of expressing my art.
It was a natural progression for me to merge my specific knowledge of boats that I have gained over the years. Clients really appreciate talking to someone who knows their brand of boat. You are not only designing to convey the feeling of the name but also create in harmony with the style of boat.
Boat Graphics is a challenging area to make profitable, in fact we get a lot of sign writers regularly passing on work they don’t want. We take the hassles away by liaising with the customer and creating several designs for them to choose from. Designing kits that are easy to apply is something we’ve become well known for, the customer gets the satisfaction of applying their own name and we than send the signwriter a commission.
It is interesting seeing what people come up with for names. Our most unusual boat names range from Scream’n Seaman, to Boobie’s Roost named not after breasts but because on the maiden voyage a Boobie bird decided to roost in one of the cabins for several days, so he asked for letters the full height of the hull in hot pink and Grey.
The majority of our work is computer cut vinyl names and the substrate (boat hull) is supplied for us, however are many different surfaces to deal with and we have done a fair bit of experimenting with different brands of vinyl for the varied surfaces apart from the standard paint or fibreglass we do a fair bit on raw aluminium and polycraft (polyethylene) boats. Probably the most challenging job would be achieving a straight line around the curved corner of an angled flybridge
When car wraps started to become popular we decided to promote them for boats, there are not many people wanting this sort of look for boats but as we have had so much exposure in the area of boats if one comes up we find we get the job. Avery MPI 1900 is fantastic for working on the multidirectional curved surfaces of clinker bows etc. there is a noticeable difference in print quality too, we use eco solvent inks and a Roland camm
The main problems we encounter are working in noisy and dusty factories, dealing with sanding dust or aluminium filings can sometimes get a bit tiresome
Boat names are a very niche market, as we have expanded we have found we have had to broaden our services to ensure a continuous flow of work for our expanding staff. We have a full on site service, Internet based DIY kits, in vinyl or mirror finished stainless lettering. As well Carved name boards and for the top end of things we make led illuminated names that are totally waterproof. Our competitive advantage would have to be our experience and repeat customers, I am often surprised how often people change their boats, for some it is a annual exercise. It’s all about service people are expecting results faster these days even in an area that I originally though would be fairly relaxed, no shop opening deadlines but we have launching dates and at least one customer a week that wants a waterline on before the boat his the water again tomorrow. We always aim to please and help out no matter how small the job, you never know, the guy who just bought a $25 set of rego numbers off you might be putting them on the tender for his 20m cruiser that he just bought and wants to get re-striped in a couple of months time,