AIBA Member: Evolution Graphics
You may have noticed over the past couple of years that local business signs have gotten a lot cooler. The reason can be summed up in two words: Evolution Graphics. This design studio/sign company/digital print business/consulting firm (and more) hit the ground running three years ago and sees nothing but unlimited potential ahead. Evolution Graphics can design, print, fabricate, build and light just about anything, and its designers put their heart and soul into every project they take on.
Thomas Hobbs and Claire Klassen-Hobbs are the seriously talented and hardworking husband and wife team that keeps Evolution Graphics busy and in demand. They moved from Corpus Christi to Austin eight years ago. “I traveled around a bit to see where I wanted to pursue my career,” Hobbs said. “We came to Austin and fell in love with the city. The energy and opportunity here was just amazing.” Hobbs studied computer programming. Although he wanted to make computer games, he found his niche working at a sign firm. “I loved collaborating with customers, seeing their businesses thrive and helping their dreams come true. It was satisfying on so many levels,” Hobbs said. He brought his skills and solid reputation with him to Austin, where people kept asking when he was going to open his own shop.
Klassen-Hobbs credits her three-year stint at BookPeople for putting her on the path to graphic design. Her flair for creating eye-catching (and book-selling) displays launched her from floor sales to the upper echelons of the marketing department in record time. “I was never a computer person, but I picked up Photoshop and Illustrator pretty quickly and started getting serious about design,” she said.
Evolution Graphics is the only shop in town that provides solid design before production, and they print everything on site using the most technologically advanced printers and fabrication equipment. “We do everything in-house. We are very exacting because our clients have very high standards,” Hobbs said. Several of those clients are other local design and advertising firms (think Brink and GSD&M) that know Evolution Graphics to be an educated shop that delivers consistently stellar work. “That’s a huge compliment. I think it’s great that these agencies trust us with their projects, and their clients,” Hobbs said. He was especially blown away when Blue Genie Art Industries–a firm he admires–called on Evolution Graphics to create a sign for them. “I knew we were doing something right when these guys, who I look up to, asked us to create something for them,” he said.
Another thing that sets Evolution Graphics apart is their competitive pricing. “We like to build relationships. If there is a business owner who has a specific budget, we make sure that person gets the most for their money: the coolest storefront, the coolest lighting. We’ve built a great network of clients and colleagues by working this way, and that network grows daily.” Hobbs said, adding, “The most satisfying thing is working with someone who’s nervous about opening their own business, then getting a call from that person when they are opening their second or third location.” Klassen-Hobbs said, “Those are the clients that came to the baby shower. We actually become friends with many of our clients.”
In addition to offering traditional signs, Evolution Graphics also makes banners, vehicle wraps and wraps of all kinds, LED lighting and interior and exterior architecture. Because they maintain a tricked out studio staffed by creative people just waiting to bring ideas to life, Hobbs and Klassen-Hobbs see great potential in being able to design residential spaces, too. “We can make custom address numbers, custom-design a wall, create digitally printed, museum-quality stretched canvas original works of art; we can do just about anything,” Hobbs said. “We can do affordable custom art, kids’ rooms, something that’s practical and fun.” Klassen-Hobbs recently designed and created a room for Fox, the couple’s beautiful eight-month-old son, which got them thinking about branching out and doing the same thing for clients. She said, “We can do this because our services are really broad, and we’re willing to try new things.”
The couple admits to starting their business at the worst time economically, but credit their success to being confident about what they do. “At the end of the day,” Hobbs said, “we’re really just a true family-owned and -operated business out to help other people achieve their dreams, too.”
Evolution Graphics is located at 415 E. St. Elmo, Bldg. 1-G, 382-0264, www.evolutionaustin.com.