Part 1 of 4
By Melissa Donovan
Every year we invite our readers to nominate their peers for our Application of the Year awards. This year’s top four winners—first, second, third, and honorable mention—differ in their scope, clientele, design, and purpose. However, they all illustrate the vast range of possibilities open to any print service provider (PSP) and their customers when using digital printing technologies and consumables.
And perhaps more importantly, each install is outside. Why is this important? At first glance, it might be insignificant, but in reality it’s quite monumental. These graphics were engineered with materials that are built to withstand outdoor elements and avoid peeling and fading. Media and ink is vastly matured over the last five to ten years, and some of these projects wouldn’t have been possible without advancements in technology.
So congratulations are in order not only for the winners of this year’s contest, but the vendors whose products were used as well. Without the PSPs’ experience and know-how and these products, the projects would not exist.
Pitching an Outdoor Gallery
Art City Wraps of Oshkosh, WI was nominated and won first place for its work for the City of Oshkosh Convention and Visitors bureau. In Spring of 2020 it printed and installed 20 different exterior wall murals, which were placed throughout downtown Oshkosh, for the Oshkosh Mini Mural Project.
“Our city is very art focused. Our college has an art school, which holds many gallery events; the downtown has monthly gallery nights. During the pandemic everything inside was on a standstill so it was the perfect time to create this outdoor gallery,” explain Carla Marquardt, owner/designer, and Joshua Marquardt, owner/installer, Art City Wraps.
Joshua pitched the idea to the city back in 2018 to the just-formed Oshkosh Public Arts and Beautification Community, which had been established to sponsor art events and other cultural initiatives in the city. Once the arts and beautification committee was convinced, the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Oshkosh Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the City of Oshkosh all got on board and a committee was created.
The project began with local artists invited to submit work, with a total of 50 entering their art. Working with Art City Wraps, the city’s arts and beautification committee picked 20 images that would best fit the project.
Pre-COVID-19, the plan was for Art City Wraps staff and others to donate their time and local companies would sponsor locations. The committee hoped to host a reception for the artists that patrons would pay to attend. Artists would benefit from the exposure and the Oshkosh Public Arts and Beautification Community would gain seed money.
When the pandemic occurred all of that went by the wayside and a new plan was put together. Since the artists had already created their imagery and the 20 installation locations chosen, it was decided the Oshkosh Mini Mural Project would continue with social distancing practices—and instead of a fund for the arts in the city, the money went directly to the artists.
“Everyone was very excited, it was something that we all worked together to try to bring some excitement in such a weird time,” say the Marquardts.
Art City Wraps has been in business since 2004, working out of one, 4,000 square foot location with four employees. Its main services are large format print, installation, color change/commercial/architectural wraps, design, and fleet wraps.
Its years of experience helped guide its decision making process, especially when it came to choosing the right media for the Oshkosh Mini Mural Project, which ended up being Avery Dennison MPI 1405 Easy Apply RS digitally printable film from Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions—the company actually donated the rolls of film for the project.
“MPI 1405 film has a great color pop and really conforms to rough, textured surfaces like brick, concrete, and cinder block. I just think it’s so cool to see the print and then to bury the material into the surface of the wall. If you didn’t know, you would think it was painted on the walls,” shares Joshua Marquardt.
Avery Dennison MPI 1405 Easy Apply RS is a PVC-free, digitally printable film that captivates with superior color pop and conformability to tough textured surfaces, including brick and cinder block. It offers great image clarity and color pop with a high gloss finish. Air egress technology helps eliminate wrinkles and bubbles for easy installation and RS technology provides easy repositioning and slideability of graphics.
A challenge related to the entire project was convincing owners that their buildings would not be ruined by the material once it was adhered. “It really took a good amount of information from us on the material to make them understand that this would not hurt their buildings,” explain the Marquardts.
The graphics were printed using a Mimaki USA, Inc. UCJV300-130 UV LED roll-to-roll printer. Part of the UCJV300 Series, this 53.6-inch printer/cutter offers inline cutting capabilities and features multi-layer printing for transitional or double facing images. Graphics are instantly-cured and printed at speeds of up to 205.6 square feet per hour.
In addition to the printed graphics, a separate plaque was created that denotes the artist information. Visitors to downtown Oshkosh can acquire a map that details where each piece of art is installed and walk around the city to view them—mimicking a gallery experience.
According to the Marquardts, the entire process took about six months. This was from the time the idea was pitched to the city’s arts and beautification committee until the murals were installed.
Joshua Marquardt says the installation was an event in itself. “We had torch lights illuminating the sites while we worked and drones following us around overhead. A violinist and other musicians were playing in different spots where we were installing the murals.”
Owners of the properties which house the wall murals are required to keep up the graphics for a minimum of three years, after that it is encouraged the graphics remain in place—pending any deterioration. Avery Dennison MPI 1405 Easy Apply RS allows for this to happen.
“The film is really durable, which is important, because this is a semi-permanent installation that we hope will attract and inspire visitors. And when the murals eventually need to come down, the film is designed for clean removal so there will be no residue or damage to the buildings, many of which are historic,” explains Joshua Marquardt.
He goes on to say that four years ago, a project of this nature wouldn’t have been possible, sharing that it would have been difficult to achieve with paint and film technology wasn’t quite at the right level yet either.
First Place Pride
Over a year into the Oshkosh Mini Mural Project and interest is still high. The Marquardts believe the project was nominated by peers for the Application of the Year award because it’s truly something you don’t see very often. With a goal of pushing art into the city, the project has achieved this in addition to offering locals and tourists alike something to enjoy while downtown.
“The overall impressions and feedback from the city, committee, and citizens were all very positive. The artists were so excited to see their pieces on a different medium and scale. The project brought a lot of excitement,” note the Marquardts.
The next article in this series profiles the second place winner of this year’s Application of the Year awards, Premier Graphics Inc. of Richmond, BC, Canada.
Aug2021, Digital Output