Get ready for the 2019

National Sign Research & Education Conference (NSREC)


Save the Date: April 23-25, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center – Las Vegas, NV
Co-located with ISA International Sign Expo

NSREC – The largest gathering of diverse professions coming together to learn about signage. We bring retailers, urban planners, designers, architects, engineers, academics, and graduate students to work alongside the sign industry in learning optimal practices in sign regulation, placement, and design.

NSREC – Where everyone has a voice in respectful dialogue. We learn from sign regulators and sign buyers what they most want from their sign industry allies and partners.

NSREC – Listen. Collaborate. Learn.

2019 NSREC Schedule


SRF Presents: Signs 101

9am – 10am

Session Description: The Sign Research Foundation presents this introduction to sign construction and technology – showing how material selection, size, contrast, illumination, site condition and a variety of other factors affect the legibility and aesthetic value of business signage. This session will help regulators understand the myriad considerations in developing a sign ordinance and will provide broad understanding of the sign manufacturing, approval, and installation process to new sign company employees.


SRF Research Insights: Perceptions of Signage & Wayfinding


Session Description: What single, simple design tactic can enhance the legibility of a sign in an urban setting? Can you predict the visual effectiveness of a sign? How are major facilities integrating mobile apps, beacons, and “blue dot” wayfinding with static signage? The Sign Research Foundation presents the results of their 2018 academic research on signage. This session is presented Ted Talk style with experts delivering 15 minute presentations on their key insights into sign illumination, digital wayfinding, and sign codes that encourage creative design.


SRF Megasession: Spectacular Fails – Lessons from the Trenches

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Session Description: Every sign project is unique and holds its own challenges. Each stakeholder in the process has an important role – the buyer must understand and articulate their needs, the designer must translate that into a vision, the fabricator makes that vision a reality, and the permitting official must weigh the community aesthetics within the economic interests. What happens when things don’t go according to plan? This rare opportunity to hear stories of resilience from all four perspectives will show how to embrace failure and build from it.


SRF Roundtables: Planners & Permitters – Working Together

3:30pm – 4:30pm

Session Description: The Sign Research Foundation provides year-round education to planners and sign code officials.  This working session will host 50 planners from across the United States to dissect and evaluate their local sign ordinance alongside sign company professionals.  Using the SRF Model Sign Code as guidance, each roundtable will work together to understand economic needs within the context of each individual community. Respecting and learning from each other is the cornerstone of building effective, consensus-based sign codes. This session is open to all sign company employees involved in the application and approval process for sign permits.




SRF and WSSC Present: Iconic Sign Tour of Las Vegas

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Cost: $25 ISA members, $50 nonmembers

Session Description: Las Vegas is one of the most visited cities on earth, with its iconic signs and visual communications consistently showcasing the cutting edge of technology. The Sign Research Foundation and Western States Sign Council invite you to join them for a night-time guided bus tour that will take you on a storytelling adventure through the manufacture, installation, and zoning considerations of iconic Las Vegas signs. The tour will conclude with a walking tour of historic Fremont Street, where public art, commercial signage, and entertainment converge in a visual feast.

2018 NSREC Wrap Up

The 2018 National Sign Research & Education Conference (NSREC) took place on March 21 and was co-located with the ISA International Sign Expo in Orlando, Florida. We welcomed 150 people from diverse backgrounds and professional practices, including the 50 students and planners who were accepted into our 2018 SRF Scholarship Program.

NSREC was envisioned as the first multi-disciplinary conference focused on signage. For years, the Sign Research Foundation has worked with academics, graduate students, and subject matter experts in design, architecture, urban planning, engineering, law, business, and construction. We quickly realized the hunger for knowledge within these disciplines and the desire to understand how signage linked to all their chosen professions.

As a result, in 2017, SRF created the Scholars Program and partnered with ISA’s XDP (Experiential Design Program) to sponsor 85 architects, designers and urban planners to attend SRF’s National Sign Research & Education Conference where they learned about effective signage alongside 65 professionals from the sign industry. The 2018 conference focused on the topics of wayfinding, urban media, and the branding of a community.

Audience Demographics
What do attendees say?
“NSREC was an excellent opportunity to participate in. I've never been to a conference like this with such a tailored focus. It was extremely valuable to have a multi-disciplinary group of professionals discussing the challenges and the future of signage and its importance to great cities and places. I would highly recommend others participate in these kinds of discussions.”
Richard Lawrence, AICP, Urban Planner - City of Alexandria, VA
“An ideal opportunity for any and everyone who works with signs to learn about the process from all perspectives to improve the understanding of signs in their own community.”
Ellery Ammons, Development Coordinator - Downtown Memphis Commission
“The opportunity to participate in the NSREC Conference and the ISA Sign Expo in the same week provides a perfect combination of advanced technical and practical educational opportunities, networking opportunities with multi-disciplinary attendees and access to the leaders and innovators in the sign industry. It brings the shapers, leaders, movers and makers of a dynamic industry together for a fantastic shared experience.”
Grady Brown, President - iZone Imaging
“I enjoyed discovering how other cities handle sign topics in their own codes along with their best practices for implementing sign code change.”
Ken Weems, AICP, Zoning Administrator - City of Kingsport, TN
“I loved the NSREC Conference. It was a great opportunity to interact with individuals outside of the design realm and the lecturers were outstanding.”
Katelyn Younger, Senior Graphic Designer - MSA Architects
“Cliff Selbert's presentation about the proposed EMC regulations in Southern California was outstanding. It represents a fascinating paradigm shift in civic thinking whereas, while on-premise signs were often viewed as necessary evils, when the city suddenly is in line to cut a cut of the subsequent advertising revenue, their view magically changes.”
Wade Swormstedt, Executive Director - Foundation for the Advancement of the Sign Industry
“I have a new appreciation for the signage industry as it intersects design, law, and other civic considerations. As a student planner I have not yet been exposed to the nuance in regulation or the potential innovation in implementation and feel like through the NSREC program I have been given an awesome crash course. One of the best things about the Conference is the assortment of diverse thinkers and the interesting conversations I was able to have. I would definitely do this again, and fully recommend!”
Wisnerson Benoit, Graduate Student in Urban Planning - Florida State University
Speaker Presentations

WTF – Wayfinding the Future (COMING SOON)
Cliff Selbert, Selbert-Perkins

Designing for Communities within the Public Process
Jen Bressler, Hunt Design

Activating the Urban Environment District: Signage in American Cities
Pete Scantland, Orange Barrel Media & David Ehrlich, Urban Activation Institute

Thank you to the generous donors who sponsored the 2018 SRF Scholars Program:

Read about the 2017 NSREC here