Q&A | The Steves

The Steves was a term first coined by our client at Northern Stage. Both our sign installers are called Steve and they often tackle projects as a team, which can get a bit confusing.

Steve H studied Design for Industry, a year behind me at Northumbria Uni and keeps the tidiest van I’ve seen.

Steve A trained as a typesetter, then joined up with his Dad running a sign business. He’s been doing sign installation since 1996.

I decided to ask if they’d take part in one of my Q&A blogs. Armed with 4 questions they provoked a lively discussion which we all enjoyed. I was reminded why I enjoy working with them so much – they are good at what they do, work hard and understand the importance of getting it right for our clients. 

What has been your favourite project to work on and why?

Steve H – to date its been The Bruce Building.
I love the fact it’s an old listed building in the centre of Newcastle and the signage was a really nice spec with lots of variety.

Steve H fitting cut out letters at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre

Steve A – projects like Spanish City are special, where you’re involved in something iconic which is part of our local heritage. It gives me a real sense of pride.

The fun fair manifestation at Spanish City

What has been the hardest job that you’ve done and why?

The Steves – that was a couple of years ago, we were installing a new product which was tricky to fit, there was a limited time on site, when we got there the site was not finished and we had mammoth drive there and back.

This question stimulated a wider conversation…

The weather plays a big factor. We worked on a job together in North Yorkshire – dig two holes in a grassy location and set sign posts in post mix, straightforward we thought. The grassy location turned out to have rock below and we had to work through into the evening using the vans headlights to light the site the dig was so tough.

Another job was fitting an 8 x 4 printed panel outside up a height at a 1980s leisure building in Scotland. Again straightforward – as we started to work a snow storm set in. The temperature was too cold for the tape to cure. We were freezing and wet. This was followed by a nightmare drive home.

We also do a lot of exhibition work. The challenge here is they have to be ready. There are no time extensions. Any issues need to be resolved by the opening.

One of our main challenges with site work (“and mine!” – Sarah) are sites being ready – most of what we do needs to go in at the very last minute, once all walls are painted and doors hung at the same time as the final clean. The is particularly relevant where we are fitting vinyl graphics and manifestations which need to be applied when surfaces and the atmosphere is clean and dust free. Timing is critical and managing this, including last minute date changes is tricky for all of us.

What’s the best bit of the job?

Seeing the end result in a finished building and how what we do ties everything together and the value it adds (an advantage of being one of the last in on a job). Also the variety of the projects we get to work on and the product specifications. 

Can you share a trick of the trade please?

Steve A — How to answer this without giving away our secrets?!

The Steves — Our main trick is making what we do look easy (often it’s not). Also cleaning up as you go along, we both keep a supply of bin bags on our vans.

They then decided it was easier if they gave answers for each other.

Steve A — Steve H is Mr Template. His toolbox full of specially made or adapted devices to complete specific tasks, revealing his product design background. For the fun fair manifestation we fitted at Spanish City we wouldn’t have been able to manage without Steve H’s adapted vinyl applicator for getting into very tight corners.

Steve A fitting vinyl graphics to the retail units at Spanish City

Steve A — Steve H has developed his own method for positioning panels of all scales with VHB tape before removing the tape back and committing to the fix – you only get one chance with VHB. 

An additional discussion followed on typefaces – Steve A said his fav is Helvetica when applied correctly. Steve H likes the modern san serif typefaces.

You can see more of The Steves at work on my Instagram @sarahs_notebook

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