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Outside Art

A Mural Heats Up Miami

By Melissa Donovan

Alan Bleiweiss, owner, Signs Now Broward and his wife, Harriet, admit they didn’t know what they were getting into when they started out in the sign business in 2004. With a background in public relations and fundraising, Bleiweiss was new to the industry. They learned quickly, though, and were named Signs Now franchise’s Best of the Best in both 2009 and 2010.

The Hollywood, FL-based shop serves Broward County, Southern FL, the Tampa area, and parts of the Caribbean. With six people on staff, the print service provider (PSP) offers a range of services from ADA signage, banners, trade shows graphics, carved signs, vehicle wraps, wall logos, and specialty projects.

These specialty projects span from wrapped ATM machines and life-size cut outs, to stair wraps, casino game boards, and even custom wraps of electric guitar graphics. A new item was added to that list at the end of 2011, when the company was contracted by Royal Media Partners and its client, artist Romero Britto, to print the largest outdoor wall mural in Miami Beach, FL.

Cruising on By
Prior to this project, Signs Now Broward worked with Royal Media Partners to create large perforated window graphics for a conference room. When Royal Media Partners approached Bleiweiss for the mural job, they had one goal in mind, to beautify the Miami Beach area with the help of Britto’s artwork. Royal Media Partners secured a landscape wall on a main road of the city to serve as a base for the mural.

The artwork, a cruise ship theme, complements the location—it is close to where ships stay in port and cruise guests shop and dine when on land. In addition, Royal Media Partners does work for Royal Caribbean International cruise line, and the graphic emulates the company’s look.

Britto’s print was approved right away and the search began for the proper material to print on. The PSP relied on its installer, Ken Murillo from Sign Guys USA, to make the right recommendation. He suggested Arlon Graphics, LLC’s DPF 6700—ideal for the flat, smooth, and clean wall they planned on installing the artwork on.

After the media was shipped and received, Bleiweiss and his team prepared the file. The graphic’s final dimensions are 18 feet high by 100 feet wide. Because of the width, it was printed in 27 separate panels, each with a half inch overlap. In total, it took three days to print on a Roland DGA Corporation SOLJET PRO III XJ-740 eco-solvent printer. The device was chosen based on its ink gamut, as Britto utilizes vivid color in his artwork.

All 27 panels were protected using Arlon’s Series 3200 overlaminate gloss, which the client asked for because they wanted a sheen effect. The finishing process took another two days, during this time everything was cut and each piece labeled by number.

A Hot Install
While Bleiweiss and the team at Signs Now Broward are experienced in installation tactics, for jobs of this magnitude, he generally turns to Murillo at Sign Guys. “They’ve been in business since 1996 and are registered by the Professional Decal Application Alliance,” says Bleiweiss.

The install was slated to take three days, but it was cut to two, as Royal Media Partners had a big meeting coming up with Royal Caribbean and hoped to show off the finished product. Murillo began the application in the middle of the graphic, and then went to the left to complete all the panels and then to the right. With his team, they placed each graphic using a squeegee and a heat assist gun.

In addition to the abbreviated time table, another challenge for the installers was avoiding the hot FL sun. Luckily, the wall was mostly in a shady part of the road and Sign Guys started work at ten a.m. on both days and went well into the evening. Mid-afternoon rains also presented a challenge, but they worked around them.

Making a Statement
The graphic is set to stay in place for two to three years. Thanks to the durable nature of the Arlon media, there hasn’t been much destruction. The edge of one panel was tampered with, due to the close proximity of passerby, but the issue was easily fixed.

After the install, Signs Now Broward fielded calls from artists asking about the process and how to get their artwork in front of the public in the form of a wall mural. Bleiweiss says the recognition is great, but business spawning from the application is even better. “The graphic opens peoples’ minds and shows them that street art isn’t just about airbrushing and graffiti anymore.”

Signs Now Broward isn’t afraid of stepping into specialty graphics. They came away with a flawless mural that is creating attention as the largest in Miami Beach.

Jun2012, Digital Output

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