The evolution of printing technology, as well as the materials with which digital graphics may be produced, have proven a boon for window-graphics producers. Increasingly durable facestocks, more aggressive adhesives and greater perforation options that allow more control over light transmission and graphic appearance are key elements that have enhanced this market.
These case studies underscore the vitality of turning a shop or facility’s eyes to the world with handsomely branded canvases. ST will delve further into this market with a feature devoted to window graphics in the July issue.
A call from the Governors
At one time, aggressive environmental-graphic branding for college athletic programs was the domain of well-endowed major universities. However, as printers and their consumables have become more affordable, and their performance increasingly justifies the investment, athletic departments at smaller and lesser known schools have joined the fray in rendering supersized logos at their stadia and facilities.
Austin Peay St. Univ. (APSU) is a school with slightly more than 10,000 students in Clarksville, TN, that, according to its website, is Tennessee’s fastest-growing college. The logo for the team’s squads (which are known as the Governors) features a dapper, stern-faced cartoon countenance evocative of a bygone-era politician who seemingly comprises equal parts Theodore Roosevelt and Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags. (The school is named after a reform-minded Tennessee governor who died in office in 1927.)
In keeping with the school’s rising status, its athletic and marketing departments wanted to make its football field, Governors Stadium, resplendent with the school’s logo. They reached out to Lincoln Barnard, the owner of Clarksville’s Fastsigns franchise, who executed the project. Barnard, who opened his shop in October 2013, said window graphics represent 10-15% of his franchise’s business. Approximately two years ago, APSU changed its logo to a more graphically compelling logo (versus a previous graphic that simply depicted “AP” in capital letters), and has hired Fastsigns for several environmental-graphic installations.
Using the university’s furnished artwork – which Barnard received as .EPS, .AI, .JPG and various other file formats – his shop prepped the logo for production using Adobe Photoshop. Barnard’s three-person staff output several graphics that adorn the Morgan Building, the campus’s student center, and numerous windows at APSU’s athletic facilities.
“A site survey is essential for a successful window-graphic job,” Barnard said. “Graphics that are even a fraction of an inch off from spec can create problems and rework.”
The shop produced the Morgan Building’s 40 x 60-ft. graphic using Clear Focus Imaging’s JetVue® 50%-perforated window film, which was printed on an Epson SureColor S30670 solvent-ink printer at 100-150 dpi (Barnard said that, given the distance from which most viewers would see the graphics, higher resolution would’ve been overkill). Frosted-vinyl graphics, which were installed in premium-seating areas in APSU’s athletic facilities and various office environments, feature Kapco Ultra 9000 frosted-glass material that’s printed on the Epson SureColor.
Installations for the job proved challenging in certain spots – Barnard noted that one building featured an oddly shaped awning, which required his team to set up scaffolding to maneuver around it. The large window graphics required a JLG T350 tow-behind boom lift and scissor lift.
This means curtains for you
Giving their proximate working relationship, it’s fitting that curtains provide an apt parallel to window graphics: their attractiveness reflects the time and energy you devote to them. They can be dull and utilitarian fabric that merely keeps light out, or they can be vivid applications that define a space.
In business since 1998, A+ Signs Inc. (Dunmore, PA) devotes roughly 20% of its work to window graphics, according to shop owner Tiffany Hannah. Like other sign types, repeat window-graphic business represents the shop’s lifeblood. In 2010, A+ produced window graphics for Country Curtains when the company opened its Warrington, PA store; five years later, the customer, appreciating A+’s initial work, summoned them to replace the shop’s aging window graphics.
Country Curtains’ art department furnished high-resolution vector art, which A+ refined for production using CorelDRAW X7 software. Hannah noted that thorough cleaning during removal is essential, because any residue left from the prior installation puts new graphics at risk for poor adhesion and
ultimate failure. Prepwork involved application of Rapid Tac’s Rapid Remover to ensure residue-free window surfaces, and Rapid Prep to clean the glass prior to application.
To produce the approximately 380 sq. ft. of graphics, which adorn 18 store windows, A+ output graphics on 3M Controltac media that’s printed on a Seiko (now OKI Data Corp.) ColorPainter W-64S at 300 dpi. Installers used 3M Gold® nylon squeegees, X-Acto® knives and ladders.
Because A+ had measurements on file from the original Country Curtains installations, the process was relatively straightforward. Hannah said the biggest challenge was awaiting fickle Pennsylvania weather to provide several consecutive sunny days to apply the graphics.
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