Election years are good for Gráfica Design, thanks to demand for the signs, fliers and other materials the firm produces for politicians.
Gráfica Design owner Roberto Radrigán didn't plan it that way.
Radrigán had wanted to be an architect. As a child in Chile, he drew a design concept used to rebuild his home parish after the structure was destroyed in an earthquake. And he studied architecture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile.
But then politics took its first big slap at his plans. At the time, Chile was ruled by military strongman Agusto Pinochet. Radrigán said that troubles in his homeland forced him to leave for the United States. He never finished his architectural studies.
Almost immediately after arriving, a print shop owner hired Radrigán to design a sign.
"I needed a name," he said. So he made a hand-drawn business card. The Gráfica name was born.
Yet it was many years before Radrigán formally launched his business. Instead, he worked for a time in the electric sign industry. Design awards he won drew the attention of Young Electric Sign Company in Las Vegas.
"This is the largest sign company in the world," Radrigán said. He moved to Las Vegas and designed signs for casinos including the Mirage and the Excaliber. But the one that pleases him most was a sign for a less famous casino, the Lady Luck.
That's because the display Radrigán designed for Lady Luck appears briefly in the official music video for Pink Floyd's 'Money.'
Radrigán is a Floyd fan.
And did he ever gamble in Lady Luck?
"Never in my life," Radrigán said.
Next, Radrigán spent some years in México. His contracts included designing signage for a new national airport terminal and materials for government health campaigns, including one to promote vasectomies.
"I used a mariachi and they almost crucified me," he said of the image he recommended for the "Be a man, have a vasectomy" campaign.
It wasn't until 1994 that Radrigán settled in Stockton and formally got his business permit for Gráfica Design.
In 1998, politics again redirected his career. Businessman Gary Podesto approached Radrigán. Podesto said he was running for mayor and he needed signs, a logo and other materials.
Radrigán headed to a library to study political campaign methods. He learned a lot, although his job with Podesto was brief.
"He hired me and was done with me within the month," Radrigán said.
In the years since, the political work has grown. Now Radrigán works often with Leading Edge, a political consulting firm. Radrigán gets hired to design materials for campaigns all over the state.
And what's his latest political work? He can't talk about it. Some of his clients are so-called "independent expenditure" committees. Those groups don't want anyone to know what they will do until they do it.
Not that politics is all he does. Radrigán also designs websites such as the one for Comerciantes Unidos, billboards such as some for the Rancho San Miguel grocery chain, and commercial signs for Stockton area businesses.
Although much of his work is done on computers, with cameras, and electric light, his first love is still drawing by hand, he says.
"I am an old school designer," Radrigán said. "When the electricity goes off, I can still go on."