Sign designer spins new career on the Net

He uses Web to unify clients' desires with modern messages

By Maureen McDonald / Special to The Detroit News

BLOOMFIELD HILLS -- Robert Dempster's creative talents always stretched bigger than one career could satisfy but the Internet brought it together and helped him increase sales and bookings on a national basis.

The Bloomfield Hills-based sign builder, musician, graphic designer and artist who began his career in a back-up band at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit now touts his wares on the Web with stereo sound, looming pictures and hyperlinks. He runs Dempster Design & Consulting. "Being an artist in today's world is a lot about packing your client's image and your own image. With a Web you are unifying the diverse aspects and erecting a bridge to make it happen," Dempster said.

His chief business today involves designing and erecting signs for business and retail. Among his clients are the Lazy Lizard restaurant in Novi, Kowasaki Robotics in Wixom, Mei Ling restaurant in West Bloomfield and the Bloomfield Plaza in Bloomfield Township. The signs run from $1,000 to $200,000 depending on size, challenge and materials.

Louie Golematis, manager of the Lazy Lizard, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Novi, says customers just love the sign.

"It's first thing they talk about when they come in -- it's brought customers in the door. Working with Robert is fantastic," he said. His Web site also displays three compact discs he recorded, Hand & Heart, Turn, Turn, and Drive On, a single about the Detroit Lions. Web site visitors can listen to some tunes and link into to purchase the CD's.

Unable to make a living with the band in the late 1960s, he turned to graphic design, creating logos for businesses such as WJZZ-FM and T-shirts for a variety of concerns.

One of his best selling shirts was the Birminghamster, a preppy character who roamed the streets of downtown Birmingham, much as Dempster did to promote his eclectic businesses.

He took the creative images he made of the last 20 years, affixed them to ceramic blocks and sells the blocks for $60 on his Web site.

"We had nine children in our family and my dad had to work three jobs just to feed and clothe all of us. One job was making wood-worked signs. That's where I got the inspiration for my career," Dempster said.

Maureen McDonald is a Metro Detroit free-lance writer.

Read the article: Neon Lights Up the Night Again

Robert Dempster, the Bloomfield Hills-based sign builder, musician, graphic designer and artist, began his career in music at Detroit's Grande Ballroom.

Photo by John Galloway

Marketing Design

Dempster Design & Consulting

Through his Web site, and consultations with clients he publishes music, designs logos, builds signs and produces art.

Phone: (248) 594-SIGN

All Artwork ©2005 Robert Dempster. All Rights Reserved.

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