Wine Country Sign Smiths: The Fantastic Art of Signs by Van

Salinas, CA, houses a bustling agricultural industry and is located near the largest wine-grape producing region of California. It’s also home to Signs by Van, who are ideally situated for either making signs, or drinking wine in support of the vibrant local economy!

Phil VanderKraats owns and operates Signs by Van, and specializes in custom, high-end dimensional signs. “I learned how to make my first sandblasted sign in 1981,” states Phil. “And from that day on, have pretty much never stopped.” Many Signs by Van creations are built for nearby wineries and farms, and much of US highway 101 features their work as well.

Signs by Van and DUNA-USA have worked closely together for about 6 years, with the signsmiths being big fans of CORAFOAM HDU. “After trying every brand of HDU on the market, the cell-structure and machinability of CORAFOAM is renowned throughout our shop as the industry best,” shares VanderKraats.

Phil credits Walt Disney as one of his major sources of inspiration, reflecting back to early exposure to classic Disney cartoons like Snow White, Bambi, and Cinderella as influencing his decision to become a professional artist.

Years of experience in everything from metalworking, welding and lost wax casting, to the Cuoroc process honed his skills as a craftsman and have helped him ply his trade in the sign industry. “Experience in such a multitude of industries really helped prepare me for the challenges I’ve faced in the sign industry,” mentions VanderKraats. “Studying dimensional art for year and years has also played a large role in my success as a sign artist. I’m constantly looking at and studying what’s out there in order to provide the best product for our customers.”

DUNA-USA and Sign by Van regularly partner together for trade shows, often highlighting carving and other fabrication techniques in hands-on demonstrations. DUNA-USA even commissioned Signs by Van to create a beautiful Las Vegas skyline themed sign for the International Sign Association Expo held earlier this year in Las Vegas, NV. The sign, CNC routed from 15lb CORAFOAM, was painted entirely by hand and often makes appearances at the DUNA-USA booth during trade shows.

Today Signs by Van boasts an all-star lineup that includes experts that specialize in everything from hand-carving to complex CNC-routed signage. DUNA-USA and Signs by Van will be undergoing a joint exhibition venture next May at the NBM Long Beach show, and will also be conducting an education session discussing HDU’s role as a sign substrate. See additional information about Signs By Van at:

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