My name is Rick Wojdak. Born in 1967, I was raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and lucky enough to inheret my father's artistic abilities.
After graduating from high school in 1985, I completed a Commercial Signwriting course at a local college, where I learned how to hand-letter and pinstripe. I apprenticed for 1 year at a small shop, and then ventured off to start my own business. I met a fellow, Jack, who worked for Peterbuilt Trucks as a painter. I remember two things about Jack. First, every second word of his vocabulary was a foul swear word, and second, he sold me my first airbrush. It was a single action Binks, and included a small 25 psi "putt putt" compressor. I learned how to use it, and along with mastering hand-lettering, primarily focused my business to lettering on big trucks.
In 1990 I decided to move to Vancouver, B.C., with the notion in mind that the west coast must be a bustling metropolis full of opportunities to further my hand-lettering endeavors. Vancouver was further ahead of Edmonton, that's for sure, but in the computer-cut vinyl industry. It seemed as though no one in Vancouver did any hand-lettering, or were much less interested in taking anyone on board that did. Eventually, a fellow sign-painter-turned-Gerber-4b-vinyl junkie ( who has since become a very good friend ) gave me my first job.
By 1991, I was employed by a large electric sign company, where I worked as an artist. All renderings and artwork were still done by hand, alot of airbrushing and hand-lettering. Eventually computers and graphics programs were introduced, and our renderings became computer generated. I started to pick up alot of work on the side, and by 1993 purchased my first computer system and vinyl plotter. By 1997 the work load between the two became overwhelming, so I left the sign company and again ventured off to carry on with my own business. I operated as The Sign Guys and to my satisfaction, approximately 25% of my work load was still hand-lettering. I'm guessing this was simply because no one else was doing it anymore and vinyl letters do not stick to the sides of concrete buildings 8 stories up.
A few years ago I was watching TLC. Some show featuring hot rods was on. Slowly luring me out of a half comatose slumber, this is where I first saw Mike Lavallee's TRUE FIRE technique. It was so amazing and different than the traditional flame jobs, and really caught my eye. Last year, on a road trip to California with my wife and child, I stopped in at Mike's shop, Killerpaint, just outside of Seattle. After a grand tour of the place, I swore I'd never touch another piece of vinyl.
As reality has it, I did have to touch more vinyl, but I did also learn the technique of TRUE FIRE. I currently operate both businesses, The Sign Guys and Axe Graphics for the TRUE FIRE and flame jobs. Jack's single action Binks airbrush was retired many years ago, eventually replaced by a double action Paasche VL and a double action Iwata Eclipse HPCS.
Thanks, #%!@-ing Jack