Art Boruck's print shop in Seattle's Green Lake neighborhood has been churning out political yard signs of all stripes (and stars) for nearly 40 years.
Art Boruck’s job is to get your attention 350,000 times a year.
The owner of Green Lake’s Boruck Printing and Silk Screen has been churning out political yard signs for nearly 40 years, in the process becoming a political institution himself. Be they Democrat or Republican, most sooner or later beat a path to Boruck.
Does anyone like yard signs? No. They’re a headache for campaigns and a blight on the landscape.
Do they work? Oh, yes. “Most people are ready to vote for two or three things, but the rest of the candidates, they don’t know who they are,” Boruck says. So we look for names we recognize.
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“I think it’s traditional. People expect it.” Something seems wrong with a candidacy if it does not have a blizzard of yard signs.
Nor is the Internet pushing them to extinction. “You need something you can read at 40 or 50 miles per hour.” That means keep the letters big and simple. Color is less critical, he thinks, but red-white-and-blue overdone. He regrets that the new plastic corrugated signs candidates prefer — at a pricey $4 each — aren’t as recyclable as the paper ones.
His all-time top customer? Former presidential candidate Ross Perot, who ordered 37,000.
Most consistent customer? Former Gov. Mike Lowry, the first to use computers to systematically locate voters likely to plant signs. “He’d order 25,000 to 30,000 signs every time.”
Boruck, 59, was a 20-year-old printer of real-estate signs when someone suggested he do some campaign work. Other shops considered it seasonal, but he’s found that between municipal elections and school districts, somebody’s campaigning about something most of the time. The only slow season is November to New Year’s.
Boruck does much of his own designing, though sometimes consultants send him designs. His biggest and yet most controversial seller was a simple “No Iraq War” sign that got picked up by the news and turned into an international hit.
“By the night they started bombing, I hit 100,000 signs,” he says.
While he leans liberal, he’s become friends with people in both parties. “It’s a business.” Friends have included Lowry, the late Republican Rep. Jennifer Dunn and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.
Over the years Boruck has gotten some hate mail and calls for the more overtly opinionated signs, like, “Impeach Bush.” But mostly he’s seen as patriotic as, well, a yard sign.
“It’s fun,” he says. “I get to meet a lot of neat people.”