Talk about bright ideas! Vince DiMella explains how he came up with the idea of LED “mini” signs for some of his favorite cities in San Diego. A sign for Coronado was just released and is now available.
How did you come up with the idea of LED signs that matched the unique cities of San Diego?
After 27 years in Solana Beach and seeing the pink, neon Solana Beach sign at Fletcher Cove almost every day, my “Creative x Community” mindset went into motion. I also didn’t realize how many others in the Solana community loved that sign, but when it would sometimes have a letter burned out, or not be lit, people would always say something like, “I wonder why the sign isn’t on, or they need to fix that letter,” meanwhile I was thinking the same. Then it went further to my love for the lifestyle, people, small business mindset of our Solana community, all of which I live and support daily, so the project got life.
I then began to look at the many other SD communities, first the ones with LED street signs (Encinitas, Carlsbad, Hillcrest, NorthPark, Little Italy), then the others that may only have a wood painted entry sign, and I found further community embracement/love for those from friends/locals. In the end it all came back to the local communities and people that live there, plus me having relationships in those areas. Therefore I believe this all came about from a higher force, vision, and pure love to create. To be honest, in all of the projects and brands I’ve built/launched globally, this one has been received the best out of the gate, and been the most gratifying. Therefore I must believe I’ve touched on something unique, special, warm, and in the end, it generates a win-win-win philosophy for all involved. We give back to other local proceeds and partners, we support and promote local business/our community, and our supporters get an amazing new product/art piece to liven up their home, business, office, where ever, while providing them with that community warmth whether local, or a visitor who enjoyed our community/lifestyle for only a week and live in another state.
Are they battery powered, plug-in, remote controlled…how do they work?
They are plug in, come with a remote control dimmer and are LED, not glass/gas NEON. So they are very cost and energy efficient, almost break proof, don’t get hot, and deliver the same neon feel.
What has the reaction been to emulating city “welcome signs”?
It’s been overwhelming and extremely welcoming. Business Associations, Local Magazines, Small Retailers, Social Media Partners, Locals, Visitors etc. enjoy working with us because we’ve created a concept that properly promotes the community. Plus we are fun and easy to work with, always looking to give back/support a local event or cause, we are local SD artists, and we’ve created a win-win-win scenario, so it’s difficult not embrace those elements. I now get weekly emails from people asking if we will be doing this community or that community/have you seen our sign, now that’s the real reward.
Tell us about your Coronado connection, what are your first memories of Coronado?
I have friends and family that have been born and raised in Coronado, so I’ve been in touch with the community for close to 30 years. The Yacht Club, July 4th, birthday parties, business relationships, holiday parades, endless events, or thru surfing and working in the Surf/Skate industry with the crew at Emerald City. Coronado has always been special to me and my family. My mom, sister and brother all love taking staycations in Coronado – it’s a place where you can feel like you are on vacation with no flight necessary. Kind of like Truman Show, hahah, though I always get the humor from the born and raised locals about Island life on the Rock.
How did you come up with the concept of the Coronado LED sign?
We looked at the entry sign to Coronado, the white one and it’s not LED, so we wanted something with a little more color and life. Then we did more research with friends and locals, found an image from the old Coronado theater and it began there. We shared our first design with locals, made some adjustments, looked at color and lighting schemes/how they would work together with the Coronado lifestyle, its energy and of course wanted some feel with the landmark Hotel del Coronado and BOOM, we came up with this festive and warm design that we believe works for all seasons.
Since Coronado doesn’t have a physical “welcome sign,” where would you put it?
I think Coronado really needs one, and I would suggest at the entrance or just over the bridge. Then again somewhere on Orange Ave would be very cool centerpiece as well since there are so many seasonal events/activities held there.
What is the most unique location someone has placed one of your signs?
Wow, we’ve seen them everywhere, people use them at campsites, on golf carts, boats, they look amazing in outdoor gazebos, poolside, home bars, mancaves, as an art piece in homes, etc., etc. It’s really endless, and once you plug one in the illumination brings a very different creative feel to you and its location. People love lighting, look at Vegas, the Del Mar Fair, neon everywhere, but ours have a different personal feel, not too big or overwhelming, so finding a home for them becomes easy for our supporters once you light it up.
What cities are next…are you expanding outside of San Diego County?
We are pure brand builders and story tellers, so we want to tell our San Diego story first. Right now we have nine communities online and for sale, by mid-September we will be adding Cardiff, University City, Normal Heights and stepping into Huntington Beach/Orange County. But yes, we are beginning to look outside of SD, but we can’t give everything away here today, hahah…. We also need to keep the curiosity high and people following our creative work, so I guess this is where we say Stay Tuned. In addition we do very cool custom work with some extremely creative people and partners, we love working with them as we always learn more, and they also know they are working with a boutique style/artistic team, not some big cookie cutter LED company.
When you aren’t making signs, where can we find you hanging out…and what are you doing to relax?
Relaxing sounds amazing, hahaha! No, life to me is all about BALANCE, so you can find me in the water, sand, adventuring, kicking a ball, or most likely on a soccer field watching my 15 year old daughter kick a ball. She plays club and HS soccer, so that’s going on nine days a week, but I enjoy watching her and her teammates compete, grow, and understand teamwork/how to win and lose gracefully.
Where can Coronado enthusiasts buy Coronado signs?
Today they can simply buy them online at Category6LED.com, we ship for FREE anywhere in the U.S. Or they can pick one up at the Coronado Lock and Key (1016 9th Street) and Emerald City (1118 Orange Avenue). Both are longtime family run businesses, friends of mine and staples in Coronado.