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Bringing Beauty Back


A Mural Application Reminds that Large Format Goes Beyond Retail and Commercial


By DO Staff


Part 3 of 4


Large format printing is used for much more than retail point of purchase (POP) and commercial work. Joseph A. Correia, co-founder, Boston Building Wraps, LLC of Melrose, MA, sees an increase in requests for print from outside the commercial/retail space. He expects interest from artists/photographers, decorators, consumers, fashion/textile designers, and other print buyers to grow. “As the public is educated in the various materials available and sees the quality and scale, there is a big demand for interior as well as exterior print projects,” he shares.  


BBW celebrates over 30 years of experience producing and installing large format exterior and interior environmental graphics. The company designs, prints, and installs some of the largest vinyl banners in Boston, MA.


Bringing Beauty Back

Nate Swain is a Boston, MA-based artist of many talents, with an education from The University of Massachusetts in landscape architecture. He is a photographer, painter, graphic designer, interior designer, and sculptor.


A building in Boston’s historic North End inspired Swain to add beauty to the neighborhood. The building, on the corner of Prince and Salem Streets, is an active electrical substation building owned by NSTAR. It features 21 ten-by eight-foot windows, all of which are sealed with bricks.


Swain knew the 100 year old building could be more visually appealing. “This building is down the street from where I live so since I had to look at it every day I thought I would do something to make it look better,” he explains. Once NSTAR gave permission, Swain took on the pet project and paid for it on his own.


The original plan was to paint directly onto the building, but Swain had the epiphany to do the work digitally in Adobe Systems Corporation’s Photoshop with high-resolution photography and print it. This idea reduced the price of the job by half, and the installation went from three months to three days.


Swain asked around to find a large format print provider and discovered BBW. He chose the shop to print and install his NSTAR building makeover.


The concept was to make the bricked windows resemble real windows. Each is a collage of ten or more separate photographic images. The project also disguised two garage roll down doors. These appear to be a garden courtyard with the use of stock photography.


Another similar project in the same community brings a bleak wall opposite St. Leonard’s Peace Garden alive with greenery. The 80x20-foot vinyl mural exhibits a photo Swain took at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.

The projects hide small blemishes in the city and enrich the locals’ and tourists’ views. The reaction is positive. “I see it as a gift to the North End. My pieces show the world what is possible today. Murals using high-resolution photography is an unexplored medium,” states Swain.


The NSTAR building windows and the Peace Garden feature Mahler 80/20 vinyl printed by BBW on an EFI VUTEk GS5000r UV printer.


Swain is excited about the strong working relationship he developed with BBW. The artist and print shop collaborate on other projects, including unique ways to recycle used banners and other material. I am now working on using the large banners that were taken down,” says Swain. “Instead of throwing them out I want to recycle them by painting and reinstalling new art throughout Boston.”


“Swain is a breath of fresh air with creative visions of turning mundane city walls into art displays,” shares Correia. “But he is also pushing the envelope, using the various products to their maximum potential, recycling being one of them. For example one of his latest requests is for BBW to reproduce and install his creative art on old storefront roll-up doors. He is a true artist in every sense of the word,” he remarks.


The Industry Beyond Posters and POP

Retail signs, commercial billboards, and event posters are projects that come to mind when thinking about typical large format digital print projects. The industry is anything but typical now. Large format printing is used for much more than retail POP and commercial work.


Print buyers are more diverse and output is equally unique. Consumers produce digitally printed canvas photographs of their children. Artists and photographers use giclée processes and archival consumables to make gallery-quality reproductions of their work. Fashion and textile designers create mockups, samples, and one-of-a-kind pieces using dye-sublimated or direct printed fabric. Interior decorators use large format technology to realize their vision for wallcoverings, flooring, furniture, and upholstery.


In the case of Swain, with the help of BBW, large format printing is a way to beautify a neighborhood.


Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Changing Landscape.

Click here to read Part 2 of this exclusive online series, Notable Entries and Upgrades.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Jul2011, Digital Output  DOSOI0711

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