On a November visit to Lake Gaston Signs in Henrico, I noticed that business owners Maggie and Greg Stowe were working on an East Carolina University Pirates-themed piece for someone’s bar.
As a proud and occasionally obnoxious ECU grad myself, of course this resonated with me, and not just because I wanted a drink.
A sign or a display panel - whatever you’d like to call it - is much more than the material it’s made of and the letters or words placed onto it. That sentiment is really the core of two stories in this issue of Lakelife. Along with Beth Wethington’s feature on Lake Gaston Signs, we spotlight Lea Beazley’s Nature Graphics graphic design business.
The function of Nature Graphics and Lake Gaston Signs is sometimes similar - both are involved in the creative process including design. In Beazley’s case, she is a veteran of the interpretation and education medium, blending art and education to make informative displays for places like parks, battlefields and historic sites. The Littleton resident and Gazette-Observer correspondent also creates Lake Gaston-specific artwork just to brighten your surroundings, while Lake Gaston Signs’ business ranges from Lake Gaston neighborhood and business signs to an account with Orvis, an outdoors brand with international reach.
Just a sign?
No, a sign can mean everything. A sign can guide, educate and be valuable for safety or just provide a pleasant feeling.
I don’t know exactly where that ECU sign was going or who ordered it, but that’s not necessary for me to understand its significance. Any passionate fan of a team can understand. That sign is a feeling, a symbol and a connection to your likeminded brethren. It can help make your house a home.
The same goes for many of the Nature Graphics and Lake Gaston Signs creations.
They can help a neighborhood or business become more inviting. They can even become the centerpiece of a city. Take the sign in Weldon, for example, that reminds visitors that the town bills itself as the “Rockfish Capital of the World.” The whole piece even includes a big ole sculpted fish underneath the sign. Yes, Lake Gaston Signs was involved in that project.
So the next time a sign or display panel catches your attention, whether it’s around the lake, on a drive through Civil War Trail territory, or elsewhere, be mindful of the work that went into producing it.
It might have even originated around Lake Gaston.