How My Passion for Vinyl Decals Turned Into A Career
Have you ever stopped to consider why kids enjoy stickers so much?
They’re the sleeper-hit in every kid’s Christmas stocking, the source of endless amusement for car journeys and are impenetrably plastered across all manner of furniture: but have you ever considered how your child’s fascination with stickers could lead them to a lucrative job in the print industry?
It can be easy to dispel the fancies of children as just that: fancies. Kids can be so contrary in their thought processes that it’s hard to take a new interest seriously. No doubt my parents thought my first love affair with stickers was a flash in the pan, a passing fad that would soon be replaced with something else in time.
It all began with the 1998 FIFA World Cup Panini sticker album, a project that I slaved over for an entire summer and pored pocket money into like it was a Ponzi scheme. My parents were hoping to buy me something that would keep me distracted for a long holiday in Devon, but they hadn’t expected this sticker album to send me on the road to a lifelong obsession with stickers.
I’ve collected every Panini sticker album for every World Cup since then and have infuriated my partner with every cry of joy and sullen disappointment (stickers are found on a lucrative yet random luck based chance). There are plenty of other albums to collect of course, but for the sake of our relationship I’ve had to limit my obsession to just the World Cup years.
You might wonder what this fuss about stickers is all about, but it led to a career which has allowed me to engage in my hobby whilst providing a service to the world. I specialise in the design and creation of vinyl decals, stickers and all other sorts of printing. It’s certainly a job that isn’t widely advertised by career counsellors, but it’s one that I’m really glad to have found as it provides me with an excuse to play with stickers all day and get paid for it!
I found my first role in decal design after I left technical college in the mid-90s. At that time we were only just starting to see how technology change the industry, luckily I was able to start in a role that gave me the opportunity to learn as more of this tech worked its way into our company. The creation of large-scale vinyl adhesives for shop signage or retail frontages used to be very much a manual job which required a lot of man hours, as well as technical skill. This was great for those in the industry who had spent years training and honing their craft, however their days were soon to be numbered.
The introduction of vector programming and precision CNC cutting meant that these largely technical roles were soon to be made redundant. The only way to stay relevant in the industry was to keep up to date with the changes in technology and that’s exactly what I did. Today I run my own digital viny printing shop, I take orders online and in-person, and I’m so glad that I still have time to fill in my Panini stickers albums when the World Cup comes around.