·What do you create? 
I suppose you would call them novelty signs, inspired by real-life, oddly translated signs that I find floating around on the internet. Depending on what language they're translating, it's known as Chinglish, Engrish, Konglish, Tinglish etc. I have a background in design and small-time manufacturing, so working off the pics, I redesign them, then make them out of acrylic perspex and vinyl cut letters.

·Why do you create?
After the GFC hit, my old boss, who ran a two-man design studio, had a tough time keeping me on and reluctantly had to let me go. I was pretty heavily into playing poker at the time, so that's what I did for a year, just played poker for a living. Then one day I felt the urge to paint a painting (as I do every few years) and suddenly just playing cards all day seemed utterly pointless to me. You don't make anything. So I guess I just have a basic need to create things. At first I tried selling my art and screenprints (www.etsy.com/shop/MichaelBancroftArt), but while I got a lot of interest, I had very few sales, so I turned my attention to this idea, which came to me in a 'flash' kind of moment while driving. I thought, 'I'd love to have that sign for myself, wouldn't that be funny'. I looked online, and found that no-one else was recreating all this stuff, so I then it was just, well, I guess it's up to me. Everything else snowballed from there.

·Do you sell your creations? If so, how? Where? And is it profitable?
At the moment I 'sell' my signs on Etsy www.etsy.com/shop/SignFail, Ebay stores.ebay.com.au/Sign-Fail, Zibbet www.zibbet.com/SignFail and Madeitwww.madeit.com/SignFail. You can even find them on Google shopping. I put 'sell' in brackets because I've only had sales at Etsy. I suppose the rest are more for exposure than anything else and if one day I make a sale, that's great. Etsy definitely has the best marketplace set up for what I'm doing. As far as being profitable goes, it was one of the best aspects of starting this particular venture, the start up costs were so low that I became profitable after only a dozen or so sales. Of course, at the moment, almost everything I'm making is being reinvested.

·What mistakes have you made or lessons you have learned?
The number one lesson I've learned is to sell something that people want. It's all well and good to have a creative vision, but if no one wants  what you're making, that's all you're going to end up with, a vision. At the end of a day a creative business is still a business and there has to be an element of giving the people what they want (or what you know they'll like). For me, it's been so much easier in this venture, as apposed to say, selling my art, because I'm building on top of an established internet meme.

I guess the mistakes I've made are the same everyone else makes when they're just starting up. Not researching enough about the market, and ending up wasting too much time and money focusing on something that nets you too little return. The biggest 'mistake' could be that right after I launched I went to France for 5 weeks. It was already organised months in advance, long before I knew I'd be doing this. So I left my shop with only a very small amount of stock, and then one of my signs went viral on Tumblr. All of a sudden I had 30,000+ people liking or re-blogging this sign, saying they'd love to have it, and I had no way to facilitate them. It's above 43,000 now, and I feel as though while the exposure's been great, it was a real missed opportunity.

·What, to you is success? Have you achieved it yet, or are you on your way towards success?
Whatever success is in the grand sense, I definitely don't think I've achieved it yet. I've had small successes along the way, but I've never sit back and thought, 'I'm there. I've made it.' 
I had a decent amount of money when I playing poker, so I suppose success isn't purely that. I think like anyone else in a creative field, I strive for respect of my peers and a sense of personal accomplishment. With these signs, success to me would be having a creative business that I could live off, where I was free to develop and invest in new ideas and then, at the end of the day, look back at it all know that it was my work and determination that built it all. 

·So what's next?
Next on the agenda for me is letterpressed cards. They're my favourite things that people make in the craft world. I just love the idea of bold, bright type that's depressed into a textured cared. They're cheap, everyone uses them and they're just great. Also, I'm looking to go back to screenprinted t-shirts, which I've done as a business before. Then probably magnets.  

In terms of the business itself, I will just continue to promote what I'm doing, build my stock and stay on the lookout for the next, hilarious sign that someone posts online.