Industry Profile: Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp Sign maker Steve Poole
25 Jul, 2008
Steve: I feel like I could write a book here, but I’ll try to keep it brief. I grew up in Wisconsin and ever since I was in grade school, I wanted to move to Colorado. So, when I finished college (Bachelor of Fine Art-Graphic Design) it was an easy choice to head west and into the mountains. What wasn’t so easy was choosing which resort town I wanted to move to. I thought for a long time about it and it came down to Steamboat Springs because I simply had a buddy that was living here that I could room with. I worked on the gondola for a summer season before I ended up with the job I have now.
Shay: What is your job title?
Steve: I don’t really have a specific title, but “graphic designer/sign maker” pretty much sums it up.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Steve: I don’t think they ever really did. They didn’t really want me to move, but they knew that Colorado is my home and never thought twice about it. I’m not sure they really understood my need to be a snowboard bum since they don’t ride or ski, but it’s just how it is.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Steve: When I was in 6th grade, I convinced my mom that I needed a snowboard. I rocked a liquid deck, Airwalk boots and some really off-brand bindings we got at Play-It-Again Sports.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Steve: More like…what are my current set ups? I have more decks than I know what to do with and it depends on the day. On big powder days I usually ride on an Burton Malolo, Ions and CO2’s. Otherwise I ride on an Omatic Wiig Pro, Burton Ions, and Missions.
Shay: What was your first job?
Steve: I worked on a neighbors farm for $3 an hour when I was 12. They had me doing all sorts of shitty jobs…literally!
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Steve: Any day that I’m on a snowboard. The best would be big powder, good posse and tasty PBR’s.
Shay: Who are your influences?
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Steve: About 15 years. For a few years in college, I didn’t ride as much as I wanted. Too poor for lift tickets and way too poor for a seasons pass. It was however a good time to work on my jib skills and skateboard like a fiend.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Steve: Always over 100 unless I’m injured. Last season was around 120 days. I swear that at least 100 of those days were powder days…God, I love Steamboat.
Shay: What is your role at Steamboat Ski & Resort at the sign shop?
Steve: If you see a sign on the resort, there is a good chance I designed, manufactured and installed it. I help make the resort “pretty” and also inform skiers and riders.
Shay: What sizes are trail signs on the mountain?
Steve: We use 6ft. and 8ft. signs for the trails.
Shay: Is your job to set up and take down the trail signs?
Steve: Yes, but there is so much more to it. Retail, Food & Beverage, Marketing, etc.
Shay: What is the funniest trail name you have encountered?
Steve: Wow, that’s a hard one….we are always coming up with our own names that are spun-off the originals, but the funniest real name has to be Ramrod.
Shay: What machinery do you work with to create signs?
Steve: We use a huge variety of things. In the shop are a Gerber Gs15 vinyl plotter, a Mimaki CG130FX vinyl plotter and a Mimaki JV130-133 printer all run from our computers. But we also use a few substrate cutters, drills, saws (jigsaw, chainsaw, etc.), a variety of woodworking equipment and just way too much stuff to list.
Shay: Any computer programs that you work with?
Steve: Illustrator, Photoshop, and SignLab.
Shay: What are the stages of the ground-up design of the signs?
Steve: Roughly it’s the initial design, approval, final designing, construction and installation.
Shay: Does your role involve the aesthetics of the signs?
Steve: And then some. We are always trying to improve the look of the resort. I think sometimes we aren’t given enough say in the logos and designs that get outsourced to other people. I think people forget that we have the education and skills that it takes to produce good work in-house.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Steve: Clock in, rock up the mountain to our shop at the top of the gondola, read emails and work requests. Then on any given day its a bit of design, a bit of production and a bit of installation. Although most days its one or the other. Then drive down and clock out. Thrown in there is a lot of coffee drinking and screwing around. I heard some statistic that an average person laughs about 15 times per day…Jee wiz, I think we have that every 15 minutes in the shop!
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp?
Steve: Getting to ride some of the biggest powder days of the season while I’m at work. If you consolidate your lunch and breaks into one session you can get some sick riding in.
Shay: How is working for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Steve: I like working here. Great boss, great job and loads of perks. Free ski pass, discounted goods, good insurance and loads of stuff going on all the time. But, like working for any corporation, there are always limitations to what you can do.
Shay: What experience did you have or skills before getting the job?
Steve: I have a BFA in graphic design and worked in the professional photography industry for about 6 years.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Steve: Getting to ride while at work. We always try to avoid using the snowmobiles and instead we ride to do our installations and deliveries.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Steve: None that come to mind.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Steve: It’s always the month before and after the start of the ski season. Everyone wants something done yesterday.
Shay: Education vs. Experience…which do you think is more important?
Steve: Experience counts for a lot, but education is experience, so it’s a toss up. You will never learn how to run the equipment we have in the shop at a school though. If you want to move up in the design world, it always pays to have an education.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting towork in a sign shop?
Steve: Nearly every resort has a sign shop and you don’t really need a degree to work at one, but you need to come at it with an artistic view. Getting a portfolio together will help and make sure you are friendly and outgoing. You encounter a wide array of requests from nearly every different department at the resort and you need to have good communication skills to help facilitate their needs.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Steve: Shred gnar and look out for the Yeti posse throwin’ roosts when in Steamboat.