Tag Archives: graphic design

Big Idea Entertainment, LLC

4 May

Brandon Vazquez

Big Idea Entertainment started out as a small design company by the name of GRAFx Studios in 1989. Originally intended to create logos and animation for commercials, it wasn’t until founder Phil Vischer teamed up with his friend Mike Nawrocki in 1993 that their focuses shifted towards animation. Since then, Big Idea has undergone many dramatic shifts in the company, from lawsuits to feature films to bankruptcy. Ultimately, these changes brought Big Idea to the Nashville area, where it has flourished since 2004 and continues to provide jobs for animators, writers, and, of course, graphic designers.

Former TN Governor Phil Bredesen welcoming Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and Terry Pefanis, former COO of Big Idea, to Tennessee.

Big Idea’s primary intellectual property is VeggieTales, a faith-based animated series for younger children that retells Biblical tales using dancing, talking vegetables. Though it may sound bizarre on paper, VeggieTales’ charming appeal in addition to its early use of computer animation made it a hit throughout the mid-90’s. Over seven million Veggietales videotapes were sold in 1998 alone. The rapid growth of the company caused Big Idea to relocate to the Chicago area, where they undertook their first feature film, Jonah and the Whale.

Even though Big Idea was experiencing moderate success, a feature film proved to be too large of an undertaking. Many financial and internal problems, coupled with a lawsuit with VeggieTale’s previous distribution company Lyrick Entertainment, marked the beginning of several bleak years for Big Idea. After several years in production, Jonah and the Whale finally hit theaters but did not make enough to bring in any revenue for Big Idea. Lyrick won the lawsuit, and Big Idea, not having enough money to recoup for their losses, went bankrupt..

Classic Media bought Big Idea in a bidding war for 19.3 million, and the company was then moved to the Nashville area, due to cheaper operating costs, a lower cost of living, and a favorable tax environment. Since then, Big Idea has been through several ownership changes, released another feature film, and continues to be successful with it VeggieTales series.

For the foreseeable future, Big Idea will continue to be a valuable asset to the Nashville community.

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Weiss Liquors

20 Apr

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Liquors Neon Sign

824 Main St in East Nashville

By John Whitman

East Nashville is no stranger to iconic vintage neon, and the long stretch of businesses along Gallatin Road feature some fantastic old signage. From the northern edge of Nashville with Madison Bowling’s giant bowling pin neon, down to Weiss Liquors sitting just across the Cumberland from downtown, vintage signs abound, some in great condition and others rusted into disrepair. Weiss and their massive neon sign featuring an overturned jug pouring neon liquor drops has been at their current location of 824 Main street since 1961. When I lived down in lower East Nashville, Weiss was my liquor store of choice because it was walking distance from my apartment and showcased some of the sweetest staff and craziest clientele of any liquor store ever. Or as Janet S. of Nashville wrote on Weiss’ Yelp Page,

“Ahh, a great place for character observation. If you need book material, hang out in the cluster—k that is Weiss Carpark. Never a dull moment, but watch your fender, its a jigsaw puzzle getting out.”

Weiss has surely created a history for itself at its current location, but what many may not realize is that Weiss and its sign date back to the 1930s and earlier. Nicholas Weiss started his liquor business in downtown Nashville on North First Street in the 1890s. In the 1930s the business moved to 218 Meridian Street near the railroad tracks. It was here that Weiss purchased the neon sign. In the late 1950s Weiss moved to 4th and Main Street, but was quickly forced to relocate due expansion of I-24. As Kenneth Weiss, current owner and grandson of Nicholas, put it, “We didn’t have the asphalt down hardly, before we had to move.” As a result Weiss moved four blocks north to their current location in 1961. From what Kenneth can gather, Cummings Signs made the bulk of the sign in the 1930s, adding the large triangular arrows sometime in the 1940s. After moving to their current location, Weiss expanded by opening a next-door corner market in the fall of 1964. Like the newer market, the “Drive In” neon sign sitting atop that store dates back to 1964.

Weiss’ neon sign has been the backdrop for many a Nashville musician press photos as well as being featured in 2010’s Hollywood film Redemption Road. As Jennifer Justus noted in August 26, 2011’s Tennessean,

“In a scene from the film Redemption Road, actor Luke Perry leans against the hood of a car, channeling James Dean. But behind Perry, it’s not Los Angeles or a Warner Brothers set that we see. It’s the neon lights of the Weiss Liquors sign off Gallatin road in East Nashville.”

After a century, Weiss Liquors continues to thrive alongside its iconic, seventy year old neon.

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Liquors

Weiss Market

Weiss Liquors