How frustrating do you think it would be if you went into a shop and ordered graphics for your but when you pick them up you discover that what you asked for is not actually what you wanted! Hopefully this information will keep that from ever happening to you.
There are many autos in Charleston that have vinyl graphics or vinyl decals on them. It isn't just for businesses these days either. It has become a popular way to express yourself. Words, pictures, and combinations of both are being seen more and more frequently.
The owner of TheSignChef.com, the Charleston, SC 29418 based sign company has been in the sign industry for over 23 years. With that much experience under his belt you can be sure he is considered an expert. I, on the other hand, am not an expert.
So it happened that one recent afternoon I sat down and confessed my ignorance about a certain subject. I noticed that the terms auto decals and car graphics seem to be used interchangeably. That makes writing a column designed to educate the public about signs a little difficult.
First he explained to me that many people use the terms to mean the same thing. This isn't only in Charleston. It tends to be industry wide. Unfortunately it leads to a lot of confusion for a novice and sometimes those in the industry as well!
Part of the confusion is because the same material is used for both car graphics and auto decals. The vinyl used is similar to the material used for bumper stickers. To differentiate between the two, TheSignChef.com came up with the following definitions.
Car Graphics - the technique of cutting vinyl into shapes and letters to be used in part or in total as a sign or display. After the vinyl letters and graphics are cut it is then laid out to create the design that the customer has requested.
This would be used when creating the names that I have seen on the sides of autos in the Charleston area. "King Shawn" and "Little Joe" are two examples of local car graphics. This isn't to say that you can only do letters. The plotter can cut whatever shapes are needed for the design.
Vinyl can also be layered to create a graphic that involves multiple colors. These vinyl graphics would be laid out, layered if necessary and pre-spaced so that the client could install it themselves if they wanted to. Many customer choose this option, since they know we have a Goof Proof Guarantee.
Auto Decals - the entire design is printed onto a sheet of vinyl. It could be one color, full color or somewhere in between. An auto decal would not be done in layers. It would be printed similarly to how you would print a page on your home computer.
Auto decals are used all over Charleston for many purposes as well. An example of using an auto decal would be if you wanted to use a full color photo to make a display on your auto. There are also some interesting decals I have seen around Charleston that include well known cartoon characters in full color. Who uses these definitions of auto decals and car graphics?
I will not guarantee that everyone has the same definition for each word. However, now that you have this information you can go in and request car graphics or auto decals and explain exactly what you are expecting.
If you ask for vinyl car graphics be sure that they understand you mean vinyl cut on a plotter. Make it clear that vinyl auto decals mean that you are expecting it to be printed on a single piece of vinyl.
I would recommend that even if you come to TheSignChef.com you discuss your expectations with your Sign-vertising specialist. Be sure to ask any questions you might have before any ink drops or any blade cuts.
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