A person can run into Roger Cox's artwork just about anywhere they go in Summit County - all they have to do is look up. Cox is the owner and artistic force behind House of Signs, which has been creating signs for local businesses for the past 24 years. Recently, Cox started up a new company in conjunction with the old one, which he says follows along the cutting edge of sign-making and branding technology.
The sign outside of House of Signs' Main Street location in Frisco serves as an advertisement of sorts for Cox's business. It's gigantic, three-dimensional and eye-catching, and, Cox said, stands as a representation of what he can do. Often, people filling up at the nearby Loaf 'N Jug gas station stop by to have a look, drawn in, they say, by the sign. The inside of the shop is exactly what the outside advertises. Signs of all shapes, sizes and designs line the walls, shouting out the names of banks, offices and stores, acting as a visual resume for Cox's work."I wanted to make sure it's one-of-a-kind, and it really has proven to be," Cox said of his 24-year-old business.It's clear that artistic vision is one of Cox's driving passions. While he has state-of-the-art equipment to rely on, much of his work is handcrafted, usually by Cox himself. A graduate from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Cox is always seeking ways to improve and expand his work. Designing a sign isn't just a quick paint-and-post project, but a detailed process that starts with understanding the concepts behind it."I like to be able to tell a story with each business," he said, and asking the question, "How are we going to make this come alive?"
While he loved the work he was doing with House of Signs, Cox decided he wanted more. "There's so much to this industry," he said. From creating design and logo concepts to constructing the signs to installation, there is a lot of work and effort involved. When he realized he wouldn't be able to do everything with House of Signs, that's where the idea for Sign Tech came in.Now, House of Signs focuses on the custom sign work, while Sign Tech helps to streamline the process and offers help to clients looking to create their own unique business image. The two companies work side- by-side and are ready to help a client with the logo and branding process from the very beginning, if need be, Cox said. In general, the process that a new business owner creating his or her own brand would go through involves a handful of different companies, Cox explained. They get a design firm to create their logo, have a custom print shop make their business cards, get another shop to print their grand-opening banner and may need to go to a fourth company if they want a vehicle wrap, for instance. Going through all those different companies often affects the quality of the logo, which may come out in different colors on the banner and the business cards, for instance, all of which affects the image of the company.Art director Bruce Holisky, who's been working at Sign Tech since its soft opening in the summer, likens this process to a story that's been told from person to person and changes along the way."It's the same thing with artwork, the same thing with the beginning of a brand," Holisky said."What we have found is consistency in your brand and image is vital," Cox said. "With our process, it's one step."
"I'm a very hands-on owner," said Cox, who likes to get personally involved with all aspects of his business, from talking concept-design with the clients to the final installation process.Sign Tech is the same way, with two key designers ready to interact with the customers on every step of the process."Everything that comes in the door goes through us," said designer Andy Henson. None of it is sent off to other companies or at-a-distance freelancers.Jennifer Hopkins, who recently opened her Breckenridge-based business The Worldly Traveller, came to Cox to design the sign that now hangs outside her door. "I really wanted his creative input," she said, of her decision to go to Cox. "I had some ideas, some images that I liked or a feeling that I wanted to invoke, but really the sign that he created for me was all him."Hopkins met with Cox several times to discuss ideas for her sign. He came by her store location twice, once to see what it looked like and study logistics and once after it had opened to walk around inside and get a feel for the store itself.The sign is an old-fashioned traveler's suitcase, covered in vintage stickers from worldwide destinations. "I love it. People stand underneath it and have their photo taken with it, which is pretty cool," Hopkins said. "It's better than what I could have imagined myself, because I wasn't sure what was possible to do for a sign, he was able to take things that we discussed and make it into a tangible reality.""It's a fun industry," said Cox, who is looking forward to what the future holds between House of Signs and Sign Tech. "Being responsible for a business owner's image, that goes a long way."