Wide format print providers look to profit on high-profile campaigns to gain recognition and retain customers. While donating time and services is not the ultimate revenue generator, it serves as a way to get out in front of prospective buyers. Print service providers (PSPs) are in a unique position to provide charitable services that benefit monetarily in the long run.
It’s All Who You Know
CAT Studios Inc., founded in 1999, began as an artist bureau out of West Palm Beach, FL—producing original artwork for artists. While fine art was its bread and butter, it soon became apparent it was competing against itself. The following decade found the print provider downsizing in both space and staff size.
Keeping an eye on fine art, but expanding into other ventures such as event signage—heavily found in the Palm Beach area—CAT Studios began gaining recognition for its high-quality printing in the architectural/décor field. While traveling to the Charlotte, NC area about a year ago, Joe Haick, founder, CAT Studios, was asked to print a few small backdrops for the annual Charlotte Fashion Week, organized by Charlotte See, LLC.
Created by Rita Miles in 2010, Charlotte Seen organizes events, galas, and grand openings throughout the Charlotte Metropolitan area. Charlotte Fashion Week, which ran from September 10 to 14 in 2013, is interspersed throughout various locations to showcase bridal, suits, and eco-friendly apparel.
Charlotte Seen thought of CAT Studios a year later and asked if the print provider would be interested in donating its time and resources to create a 14x82-foot stage backdrop for the final shows, held at the end of the event. Haick was hesitant at first. “We were moving to Raleigh, NC—a 25,000 square foot space after 14 years in West Palm Beach—so time and resources were limited,” he explains.
Setting the job on the back burner, Haick was contacted a week before the event with the same request—only this time a bit more urgent, the organization still hadn’t found a printer. Familiar with quick turnarounds from its event work and understanding what was required for fashion shows—at one point the PSP created high-end backlit runway displays for Valentino—it took on the job.
Donating the Runway
Once CAT Studios decided to create the backdrop for Charlotte Fashion Week, things came together fairly quickly. Fisher Textiles donated a large amount of canvas, specifically its GF 4394 Art Canvas, for the project.
Haick and his team are familiar with the media supplier, having worked with its substrates for the last eight years.
The backdrop was printed on the PSP’s proprietary digital paint printer, Omniscape—there are three devices in house. Omniscape prints to both rigid and roll material including canvas, scrim, paper, metal, and carpet. Using real artist paints, the printer doesn’t put down pixels, but instead lays an image in a continuous tone. This was instrumental in the Charlotte Fashion Week project.
The main image resembled the Chanel building in Paris, France. Despite the graphic being low resolution, Haick stylized it, enlarged, and then created an airbrush effect. Since the printer doesn’t pixelate images, it was ideal for the desired appearance.
After completing the print, over a few late nights and weekends, Haick and his team installed the backdrop at the fashion show location—the Hilton Center City ballroom. The final output was 14x62 feet. In total, the backdrop was up for three days indoors. It was protected due to the paint used in the Omniscape device. Winsor & Newton oil paint is an archival solution, well known in the fine art segment.
The team at Charlotte Fashion Week was pleased with the final outcome. In total, CAT Studios donated 40 to 50 hours of work on the project. Haick believes the recognition will provide the company with local connections, especially as it becomes settled into its new location.
On the heels of the fashion show backdrop, the PSP is looking to revamp its fine art services. It also owns three 44-inch Canon USA, Inc. imagePROGRAF printers for giclée work.