By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Digitally printed wallcoverings appear in many environments from retail and commercial spaces to home décor. Print service providers (PSPs) offering wallcoverings as a service should be aware that these products are ideal for short-term displays, leaving the door open for repeat business. In a culture where change is constant, it is no surprise that wall décor is updated frequently.
This Web-exclusive series profiles two PSPs offering wallcoverings. Both leverage advancements in technology to better serve their clients.
Mark Lakey, owner/president, Art Warehouse, says “we live in an image saturated buying public.” This theory backs his belief in just how cost-effective digitally printed wallcoverings are from a labor standpoint. Essentially, a graphic can be placed on a wall for three to 12 months and then taken down, all without worrying about damaging walls.
Ten percent of the Chattanooga, TN-based business consists of wallcovering orders, mostly created for commercial use in hotels, hospitals, or office complexes. According to Lakey, commercial jobs have a shorter lead time. “Typically there is a designer or architect involved and they know specifically what the client wants and comes to us without too many questions.”
Perception Wide Format Media’s wallcovering material is commonly used, specifically the canvas line of products including Perception Gloss, Perception Satin, and Perception Pearl. Art Warehouse also uses Perception’s PhotoFAB Ultra, which features a removable adhesive and stay flat liner.
The material is printed on its solvent-based roll devices, generally an Epson printer. Lakey says this is ideal because print definition and not speed is key when it comes to a lot of the wallcovering jobs the company processes. Imagery is commonly from high-quality cameras.
“We almost never use stock photography. A lot of the time we are printing images from a designer or the owner of the company—like a hotel chain. You see a lot of mid- and upper-level management taking pictures with high-end cameras and then we take those and make a wallcovering out of them,” he explains.
Nationally reaching retail and wholesale clients in addition to commercial, the PSP does it all. On top of wallcoverings it offers printing on photo paper, fine art paper, acrylic, aluminum, and canvas. In addition to the Epson, it also has Canon Solutions America, Hewlett-Packard, and Mutoh America, Inc. printers in its 10,000 square foot space. Prints can be wrapped, stretched, or framed through custom framing services.
Many of Art Warehouse’s wallcovering jobs derive from bulk orders of canvas wraps. For example, Lakey may receive a request from a hotel for 100 wrapped canvases first and then the client may ask him to also create a wallcovering for a communal bathroom in the hotel lobby.
With the ease of install offered by Perception products, Lakey says it makes sense to offer wallcoverings as an add-on to any job. The six-person Art Warehouse team can apply the wallcovering when needed. If the user prefers to do it, that is an option as well.
With 15 years in the business, Lakey tries to maintain the philosophy that it’s the vendor’s job to solve problems. And as a vendor, he believes Art Warehouse is in the position to help its customers resolve challenges, whether budgetary or some other reason. Working with media from Perception and other suppliers allows him to do so. He can address short-term project inquiries with the confidence that the media used will satisfy the intended longevity of the project.
The next article in this series profiles Spotlight Graphics, Inc. of Southwick, MA and its production of digitally printed wallcoverings.
Mar2016, Digital Output DOWA1603