The “ART” of Wallpaper Prints
While we are indeed trying to make it easier and more productive to place prints in textiles using a MUTOH ValueJet wide format printer, it’s good to remember where it all begins. The artist. I thought it might be fun to give the artist some press just to remind everyone that we have not forgotten you. So, in the next few paragraphs, read and watch the beauty form from one such artist in London.
Made in London: Daniel Heath
Posted by Katie Treggiden
Now based in the heart of East London, Daniel moved to the capital to study at the Royal College of Art. “The main influence this time had on my work was the idea that someone with training in textile design can apply their knowledge to other outcomes,” he says. “I worked with a lot of different people on a range of projects, often simultaneously. I remember running up and down the stairs because the lifts would be out of action and the departments are split across seven floors. I’d be running up to architecture, down to ceramics or product design, and up again to fashion. It was frenetic, exciting and a lot of fun.”
The experience has clearly had a profound influence on his work to this day, but the craftsmanship of his discipline has always been important too: “When I was studying textiles, I wanted to know all about the traditional process of screen printing and I wanted to be good at it.” He learnt his craft at the RCA, but honed it while hand-printing runs of 500 t-shirts and sweatshirts for a friend’s clothing label on a print table he bought while studying and stored in the roof of a dishcloth factory.
Now with his own studio at shared maker-space Blackhorse Workshop, Daniel is printing more than just t-shirts. He now specializes in up-cycling and re-appropriating what he calls “authentic heritage materials” to make bespoke, hand printed wallpapers and interior surfaces to order. Having to explore other materials because he couldn’t afford silk at university has served him well.
His designs, all hand-drawn, often recall the Victorian era to form playful narratives inspired by everything from taxidermy to the circus. “When I design a new wallpaper, I begin by doing a lot of research to establish an idea or theme,” he says. “I’ll go to exhibitions, visit locations, take photos and make sketches.”
He then applies the resulting designs using technologies such as laser engraving to create his unique products, which cross the boundaries between technology and craft. He makes everything to order. “I enjoy the making process,” he says. “Making to order means that my customers can request bespoke alterations and are not restricted to a set colour. And there are no stockpiles of stuff sitting around in warehouses that I need to worry about selling – if something is ordered, then I make it.”
Alongside his making career, Daniel is also an academic and has lectured at universities including Loughborough, Manchester, Bournemouth, Staffordshire, Bucks New University and Central St Martins. He also provides mentoring for young designers through the Crafts Council Hot House scheme.
He works for private clients as well as brands such as Swoon Editions, Panasonic Europe, Farrow & Ball, Heal’s and Anthropologie, and he is a brother of the Artworkers’ Guild, London.
The “ART” of the MUTOH ValueJet
So there you go! A great article and video of a true artist. Think of how much more widespread his art could be using a MUTOH ValueJet wide format printer. Think of how much more TIME he could spend creating rather than producing the product. We respect and applaud his talent. I wish we all had it. Just some things to think about.
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Randy Anderson Meets with Industry Leaders at ISA 2018
I thought I’d share some things about the industry leaders I met at ISA 2018.
I wrote about Rick Hatton from Banner Ups on my blog – https://www.thinkmutoh.com/light-up-your-life-your-artwork-and-your-brand/?v=e748b7c8fd06
Rick introduced me to Keder Tape, an adhesive silicon strip for SEG frames.
So at ISA I went over to finally meet Rick and others from Banner Ups (https://bannerups.com/), and who do you think I saw working the Banner Ups ISA booth? (https://www.signs.org/isasignexpo) Butch “Superfrog” Anton (http://www.superfrog.com/).
Butch was the first sign artist that I had met and talked with, and I don’t remember which show it was, but I remembered Butch. It has been more than a decade, but his insight and advice changed the way I looked at signs. I had always been under the impression that signage was strictly informative.
Being a tech guy, for me signs told me what I needed to know, but being a wannabe artist, what Butch was talking about captured my interest. Butch was displaying at the show, but mostly he was talking about what he knew – signage. Patient and understanding, I bet we talked for half an hour, I was fascinated by what he was telling me. Butch was telling me about ‘Branding’ long before I remember hearing the term in the industry. Butch explained that signage’s effective role was about not only transferring information but by capturing and creating an ‘image’ that reflects the goals behind the sign and produces an emotion that reinforces that image.
I am sure that those weren’t his exact words and I hope I am accurate enough in conveying his message.
In any case, I recommend that you reach out to Butch and Rick and take advantage of their skill sets and sage advice to improve your business and signage.
MUTOH Can Help
Here at MUTOH, I bring with me those same ideas and I am happy to report that my professional colleagues also have the same thinking about being creative in messaging. Working with MUTOH printers is also great because they have features that fit that same philosophy about creativity. When you use a MTUOH printer, you don’t have to worry about the hardware and can focus on creativity and communication, the foundation of a good sign.
Want more info about MUTOH printers?
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I Was a Backlit Junkie
by Randy Anderson, Product Marketing Manager
As an aspiring artist, ok, more of a wannabe artist, backlit graphics have always impressed me.
As a techie, backlits intrigued me.
Getting an image to ‘match’ the lighted state with the unlit state seemed to be more of an art form rather than ‘just’ a profile. There were all kinds of issues, you had neon, fluorescent tubes and a variety of other lights that could be virtually impossible to use as a white point.
Then came LEDs. Then came LEDs in virtually any color you wanted. At that point, I had moved on to dye sublimation and textile applications and was wowed by backlit fabrics.
I Got a Little Help
Joe Terramagra from REXframe (http://rexframe.com) introduced me to SEG, Silicone Edge Graphics frames for fabric display and back backlighting, and I bought a backlit frame from them.
I got a hold of my friend Mike Sanders from Pacific Coast Fabrics (now Top Value Fabrics – https://www.topvaluefabrics.com) and Mike sent me a sample of dye sublimation backlight fabric.
I did a few prints and taped them up to the frame to check out my work. Impressive as I thought it was, I still had an issue – I don’t sew.
Yes, of course, I tried just jamming the silicone strip in the slot, without sewing, but wasn’t really satisfied with that.
I thought about finding someone who sews and works with them, but my initial volumes were the one lightbox I owned and I mostly needed to play.
So I took the light box home and it sat in the garage for a time…… a long time.
I Found Great Stuff
At SGIA last year, I got introduced to Keder Tape by Rick Hatton and the people at BannerUps (https://bannerups.com/), this is an adhesive silicone strip that doesn’t require sewing.
So I got a hold of Mike again, and he sent over some Microlux Soft 8179FLBS, which is a two-sided backlit fabric for dye sublimation. One side is a DecoTex texture and the other – a nice smooth satin, perfect for the kind of artwork I want to display.
So I dug out my REXframe light box, brought it back into work and did some text prints.
Applied the Keder Tape, ok, it took me a couple of tries to get a technique down (unlike sewing, the adhesive silicone can be removed, repositioned or applied to another piece of fabric).
Talk to Me at ISA 2018 Booth 2017!
So I prototyped a few images and settled on these to take to ISA 2018 this year.
Hope you see me there so I can tell you more!
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by Randy Anderson, Product Marketing Manager
“Wrapping” the INSIDE of your car.
There has been so much talk and focus on custom car wraps for the outside of the car, but very little about customizing the interior of the car.
Ok, there has been a little wrapping of individual parts inside the car, and now some ‘hydrographics’, but what seems to be mostly missing are the textile applications for the cars’ interior.
One that intrigued me recently is headliners for vehicles.
It started with something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbMVH8mFjRc that I found on youtube.
When I got to Pinterest it gave me more of an idea of just how common this might be and how it could be a solution for damaged or loose headliners.
The sad part of this is that I don’t recall ever seeing custom headliners for custom wrapped cars when I had mine wrapped.
It would have been nice to put in a custom themed headliner and visors in my Rodeo.
Seems like dye sublimation would be a perfect application for both of those, and the range of fabrics available would make it pretty easy to keep the same texture look and feel with custom imagery.
Dye sublimation would work to do the door panels and maybe some matching mats – http://dyetrans.com/products.php?webmaincat=sub_prods&websubcat=car_mats
I got rid of the Rodeo a couple of years ago before Mutoh released the direct to a textile printer the ValueJet 1938TX.
I am driving a Juke now, with a sunroof, so there isn’t much of a headliner there, but it sure would be nice to wrap the Juke and create custom seat covers with the TX with visors to match….
But that would be another blog entry for the future……
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THE ULTIMATE SOFT SELL
It’s a chilly January evening in Las Vegas, 8 p.m. You’re a thousand miles from home, setting up your tradeshow booth on the floor of a convention center. Your flight got in later than expected, but with the exhibition floor opening at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, you’ve got all the time in the world to set up. You carefully reach into the heavy crate the event staff brought up earlier today and lift out one of your rigid substrates, only to realize the unthinkable has happened – all four corners of the 1/4-in. PVC board are broken, and there’s no way you can get a replacement here in time.
Disheartened, you glance across the aisle to see one of your fellow plane passengers inserting a final Silicone Edge Graphic, or SEG, into their own booth’s backdrop. The thin silicone strip on the back of the dye-sublimated fabric slips smoothly and easily into the recessed groove of the metal frame, pulling the material taut and displaying their company’s branding with an impressive vibrancy and brilliance.
In that moment you realize two things: One, if you ever bring rigid materials to another tradeshow, you’ll double – no, triple-check – that they’re packed safely; and two, you’ll never bring rigid materials to another tradeshow.
In 2015, an SGIA Journal author estimated 1 billion square meters of textiles would be printed that year, with a 30% annual growth forecast through 2019 (see “The Evolving Soft Signage Market: Part 1,” November/December ). From retailers to event organizers, corporate rebrands to pop-up shops, it’s clear that as consumer demand rises and the cost of dye-sublimation printers, inks and materials continues to drop, soft signage is making a big dent in the industry.
A SOFT SPOT FOR ANY INDUSTRY
With production facilities in Minnesota and North Carolina, Imagine! Print Solutions is a 30-year-old graphic communications company with more than 1,600 employees. It’s also the parent company of Imagine! Express, a Minneapolis-based print shop with an 80,000-sq.-ft. facility specializing in commercial printing, direct mail and high quality fabric prints.
“Soft signage isn’t the largest portion of our product mix,” said Keri Sanders, director of customer experience, “but it’s definitely our fasting growing segment.” The shop’s EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340 and EFI Reggiani PRO 340 produce a wide mix of content for tradeshow graphics, corporate décor, museums and the hot trend taking over the retail world: 24- to 48-hour pop-up shops, restaurants and event spaces.
Gone are the days of a single rigid backdrop for exhibitions and tradeshows, Sanders said. “We’re seeing more and more requests for creative booth builds, featuring one-of-a-kind structures.” With the popularity of silicone-edge graphics frames and other tension systems, clients are looking for new and interesting ways to set themselves apart on crowded show floors, an area where fabric – with its ability to create easy-to-install, eye-catching spaces – is a perfect fit. “We once used fabric to build an indoor barn for an equine nutrition-related client,” Sanders said. “No one had seen that before.”
Corporations and museums are also putting fabrics to use, whether to delineate space from one department to the next or to rebrand and refocus their mission and culture. With textiles, Imagine! can incorporate blockout backing to divide a room, or leave the natural fabric back as-is to allow for a more translucent effect, giving clients flexibility in the look and feel of their office space. In the tech space, Sanders said, Imagine! sees institutional companies competing with Silicon Valley tech giants, updating their offices or dressing up campuses to better recruit millennials.
The most interesting growth industry, Sanders noted, surrounds pop-up shops for retail and events. This type of “here today, gone tomorrow” setup, often featuring a variety of lifestyle graphics and product mixes, can take place in any space, from an existing store that gets rebranded to an unused warehouse that’s transformed overnight into a pop-up shop. “With fabric,” Sanders said, “everything goes up and comes down quickly. It’s almost like you were never there” – except for the lasting impressions left on those who were lucky enough to be present.
THINKING SMALLER, SOFTER
After nearly 60 years in business, BPGraphics ’ team in Phoenix is well-known for their craftsmanship, expertise and exceptional work in large-, wide- and grand-format printing. Operating from its 66,000-sq.-ft.-plus production facility, the company offers a complete line of screen and digital printing and finishing in-house, according to Nicholas Spade, director of marketing.
“Much of our work is still in OOH [out-of-home], such as building wraps, train wraps, billboards,” said Spade. “But smaller scale, soft-signage sales like fabrics, hanging banners, step-and-repeats and store windows continue to grow from one year to the next.”
Many airports, Spade continued, are replacing backlits with fabrics because they’re easier to change out and have sound-dampening properties in high-trafficked areas. Companies exhibiting at conferences and tradeshows, he added, are looking for more cost-effective, travel-friendly solutions, and seem to be moving from full booths to expandable three-wall setups that can fit in a travel bag.
One of the biggest advantages in the “shift to soft?” Shipping. “As transportation prices increase and it becomes more expensive to send giant crates with rigid signs across the country,” Spade said, “the allure of folding up an 8 x 12-ft. piece of fabric, throwing it in a small box and shipping it overnight for a fraction of the cost not only saves money, but makes rushes easier, too.”
And rush they can. On the shop’s PrinterEvolution Evo33 DS, a water-based dye-sublimation press, BPGraphics can produce up to 1,300 sq. ft. of graphics at 126-in.-wide per hour. The prints are then transferred onto a wide variety of fabrics using 400° of heat and extreme pressure from their Monti Antonio 901 Heat Calender.
The specialized equipment that creates fabric’s beautiful, bold textures and colors is more challenging to run than a traditional “ink on substrate” press. “Dye-sublimation requires an entire second step – sublimating the inks (dyes) into the fabric through a heat calender,” said Spade. During this process, you have to consider that each fabric type responds differently to the required heat and pressure, and different-size graphics require different settings. A skilled operator is as much craftsman as technician.
Other issues crop up with fabrics that don’t typically occur with rigid substrates, as BPGraphics learned when they had to create 800 Super Mario-themed bollard covers for the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Target. For instance, how do you keep a material that’s designed to stretch from doing exactly that on a Zund or other digital flatbed cutter? “When exact cuts are required, then precise sewing, it takes time and patience from all parties involved,” Spade said. The result of that trial and error? A successful and popular campaign that garnered national attention.
A SOFT TOUCH AND A KEEN EYE
“There’s just something about fabric,” said Bill Stender, owner of SF Landmark in San Francisco. “Color has been my thing for 30 years, and dye-sublimation offers the most compelling color I’ve ever seen.” Serving Hollywood film studios and Bay-area businesses since 1982, SF Landmark offers everything from large-format digital printing and grand-format dye-sublimated fabric, to dimensional signage and major motion picture props.
With its close proximity to the Moscone Center, the largest convention and exhibition complex in San Francisco, SF Landmark sees no shortage of tradeshow business. “There are shows going on every week or weekend, all year long,” said Stender. And while rigid UV, roll-to-roll printing and dimensional signs have been lucrative in the past, fabrics and textiles have been steadily picking up steam over the last decade or so. Stender thinks he knows why: “Fabric has a particular sheen that can’t be achieved with other substrates. It’s softer, elegant, inviting. Clients love that you can get up close to it, touch it.”
On the shop’s EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340, 15-ft.-wide Klieverik heat press calendar and Matic sewing system, Stender and his team recently produced a series of near-seamless, 20-ft.-wide by 12-ft.-high backdrops for a local photographer, who Stender believes is among his most demanding clientele, as photographers “have an eye for color – it absolutely has to be right.” The result? A glowing endorsement: “The client said all he had to do was shine a light on the fabric and shoot. There weren’t any lighting issues like there usually are with rigid, digitally printed backgrounds.”
Still, if you’re thinking about getting your shop into fabric, Stender cautioned that it’s not for the faint of heart. “There’s a steep learning curve involved. It’s a whole different animal than we’re used to with digital.” The different fabric materials, he noted, all appear relatively the same in their respective ordering books; however, they all possess varying thicknesses (which affects the transfer process), white points, stretch factors, weaves and more. “These are things you don’t really have to worry about with digital printing on rigid substrates.”
In the end though, Stender insisted, “There’s nothing in digital printing that compares to the stunning color and rich quality you can achieve with fabrics.”