By LINDSAY GARRIC

Customization is the ultimate way to express your personal style.

Cynthia Ryan poses with a custom-wrapped guitar. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Cynthia Ryan poses with a custom-wrapped guitar. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Adding your own flair to something otherwise generic can be a challenge to manifest, though.

Sure, you’ve always dreamed of blowing up that painting Junior did to cover an entire wall in your home. And you’ve wanted to replicate your favorite shredder’s unique guitar design on your very own axe. There’s also that shot of you and the family on vacation that would be so blown up cool mega-sized and displayed in the rec room.

Plus, you’ve dreamed up a colorful logo to advertise your business – on your car. But, how do you make your vision come to life?

Cynthia Ryan of Nashville Sign and Graphics is here to help. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Ryan shuttled south when her job with 3M transferred her to Nashville in 1995. A veteran of the printing business and no stranger to hard work, Ryan was eventually given the opportunity to have “sweat equity” in the locally owned printing shop she was working at. Against all odds and with a ton of visionary, innovative changes to stay ahead of trends, Ryan ventured out on her own to pilot Nashville Sign and Graphics, a one-stop shop for all your printing needs, including large-format digital printing.

Ryan is conscious of the competition from Big Box Stores and online outlets, but says there are a lot of reasons for Nashvillians to patronize a locally owned business to manifest their projects.

“My vision and goal after taking over the former company, was to create a cool shop that customers felt comfortable in, where they could come in and not be greeted by a long white countertop where they have no idea what was going on behind the doors. I have always believed in quality customer service, quality products, honesty and going above and beyond to take care of my customers’ needs. Larger companies sometimes lose that personal touch and that is what I thrive on. When it becomes personal, everyone is invested and everyone strives for a great outcome.”

There have been periods of struggle, but Ryan’s dedication to her craft has paid off with a flurry of high profile jobs that include her specialty niche of digitally printed custom guitar and vehicle wraps.

Ryan’s work can be seen across the country on music stages, including on a double neck guitar wrap for Quintin Gibson, guitarist for Darius Rucker. She says, “It has a South Carolina Gamecocks (Darius’ team) wrap.  He uses it for two songs in the show; he loves it.”

Quntin Gibson plays a guitar with a South Carolina Gamecocks motif applead by Ryan. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Quntin Gibson plays a guitar with a South Carolina Gamecocks motif applead by Ryan. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Ryan personally applies the wraps, a self-taught art she instigated with a watermelon pattern on a “guitar out of a dumpster from the old company location.”

It’s that sort of creativity and resourcefulness that Ryan has become known for and a reason that Old Town Trolley Tours approached Ryan to do what has become her favorite job so far, creating the jumbo-sized wraps displayed on the trolleys for their city debut on Monday May 2.

Ryan was headed down to Key West for her annual girls’ trip when she got the call for the job that, like all jobs for a small business, can be vital to its success. She was awarded the contract while she was on her vacation and forged ahead.

She describes the process to create the gigantic graphics with her signature humor: “I print and get everything ready and my partner Jeremiah, owner of That’s a Wrap applies the wraps. No way in hell I’m doing that! (She laughs.) They are professional installers and that is all they do. They have done a wonderful job and the customer is happy happy.”

Ryan is an inspiration in her continual process to learn, grow and perfect her services, a lot of which is a hands on, trial by error process.

She recounts having to rush the decals for the trolley shuttles, “I did apply four 60-inch logo decals late Friday afternoon for their shuttles. It was a rush job and another lesson learned. But, I did it, it was HARD and I was tired as hell when finished. I’ll try and play superwoman when emergencies come up, but this girl is not getting any younger and my hands are looking like an 80-year old’s at the moment.”

That can-do, will do anything to get the job done attitude along with years of experience and technical know-how allows Cynthia and her team of experts help realize any vision you can come up with. A jumbo-sized pet portrait? No problem! A life-sized cut out of a celeb? Done!

Portraits of Cynthia and her dog decorate her work space. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Portraits of Cynthia and her dog decorate her work space. // PHOTO BY CHAD LEE

Their daily workload includes everything from domestic and business jobs to music industry needs like headshots, credentials, posters, CD sleeves and backdrops. Just a glimpse of Nashville Sign and Graphic’s online gallery reveals custom wraps for superstar tour buses, road cases, local food trucks and an incredible denim-wrapped grand piano, demonstrating that they can tackle personal projects for decorating the home, advertising a business or producing products for resale like artwork digital prints.

The walls of the welcoming storefront are plastered with images of stars and bands that Ryan has worked for, and some amazing portraits of her dog that the animal lover blew up into colorful pieces of wall art. Yet, she’s modest about her high-profile clientele and her ability to garner industry referrals.

Ryan shares her philosophy for not just surviving, but thriving as a small business, “I have been on both sides of the selling process. I learned many years ago that all parties need to ‘win’ in order for long-term success and partnerships to grow. Customer retention is critical for any business to survive and thrive.”

Which shouldn’t be difficult once inspiration hits and you have Ryan make something special like a fun window graphic or cling for your home, blow up a family photo on canvas, or create a custom vehicle wrap to individualize your ride.

(Note from Style Home Page: we are thinking these are all major Father’s Day gift ideas!)

Rock star guitars and touring trolleys aside, Ryan is ready for what’s next for Nashville Sign and Graphics. “It’s been real hard, but it has been worth it. I was raised to work hard and things will work out.  It’s true and I’m glad I didn’t quit when I was losing everything and scared to death. My mother is my biggest fan and has encouraged me and helped me over the years to keep my doors open. Without her I’m not sure where I would be.  She is my rock star.”

Nashville Sign and Graphics
2980 Sidco Dr, Nashville, TN 37204