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Mark Kissling

Graphics Transform Coffee Shop into a Brick-Walled Arcade

Poster images disappearing into brick add layers and realism.




Featuring visually unique comic book scenes on a realistic brick texture, the interior of this space was transformed into a video game-inspired environment. Featuring visually unique comic book scenes on a realistic brick texture, the interior of this space was transformed into a video game-inspired environment.

WHEN LUIZZI COMPANIES (Watervilet, NY) was recently developing a property in Troy, NY, one of their tenants, Bud’s on the Hudson on local Green Island was looking for a nostalgic setting inspired from video games and comic books. Collaborating with both returning client Luizzi and their client Bud’s, AJ Sign Co. (Burnt Hills, NY) brought the clients’ vision of interior aesthetics to life, according to Tim Szablewski, AJ Sign’s director of marketing.

A cafe located on an island within the Hudson River, Bud’s offers small-batch coffee, dining, cocktails and arcade tables with iconic ’80s games. AJ Sign’s starting point for this project, Tim says, was to incorporate brick textures and eye-catching retro characters, but Bud’s on the Hudson wanted the signage team to have complete creative freedom on the design.

Liz Charon, one of the senior graphic designers at AJ Signs, used both Photoshop and Illustrator to blend comic book scenes into a brick texture. “By fading the edges and changing the opacity at various points, she cleverly let parts of the ‘brick’ show through the design here and there,” Tim says. “This trick visually made it look like the comics were painted on the brick as a separate layer.”

Liz put in about 20 hours on the intricately designed concept, ultimately transferring it into SAi Flexi. After sharing the initial designs with the client, only two rounds of very minor revisions were needed. “It was great to collaborate with returning clients that trusted our team with the creative process,” Tim says.

AJ Sign printed the final version on more than 1,000 sq. ft. of 3M IJ39 Scotchcal High Tack Graphic Vinyl Film using their Roland TruVis VG2-640 Printer/Cutter. They then applied Briteline Matte Overlaminate to the print on their “trusty” Graphic Finishing Partners GFP 563TH-4RS top-heat wide format roll laminator.

Spanning a doorway as well as the walls, a hand-installation was completed by two of the company’s “expert” vinyl installers in a single day. “Ensuring the brick-textured vinyl aligned seamlessly throughout the entire coffee shop proved to be the most demanding part of this project,” Tim says. “We had a solid design foundation to work with and the rest was up to the skills of our talented installation team.”

When diving into big wall wraps, Tim advises it’s good to pause and consider the project’s real purpose. Bud’s on the Hudson wanted to curate a nostalgic environment for their customers and AJ Sign worked hard from design to installation to capture that feeling, he says.

“Sometimes embracing realism might mean embracing imperfections,” Tim says. “Real brick walls aren’t uniform. They come in all different shapes, sizes and shades. We think we nailed that look, and when you’re inside the shop looking around, it’s easy to forget that it’s all a design.”





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