by Cassandra Balentine
Print service providers (PSPs) are essential to the communities they serve. From wayfinding to promotional signage, organizations from museums to restaurants turn to them to produce graphics that communicate information to clientele as well as generate attention. Many PSPs are embedded in the community, offering one-stop services for all graphic and signage needs.
Located in Rutland, VT, Awesome Graphics Inc. is a PSP that started out offering interior printing, photo enlargements, and courtroom displays. For the past 12-plus years, it has added exterior signage, vehicle graphics, and fine art reproduction.
Tami Napolitano, owner, Awesome Graphics, says she and her husband started the business in 1994 out of their attic. Now they own a 3,500 square foot building—complete with a vehicle bay—for the operation and staff eight employees.
Some of Awesome Graphics’ most popular digitally printed items include window clings, perforated window vinyls for interior and exterior applications, as well as vehicle graphics. It also does a lot of die cut text and logos, specializing in window treatments such as frosted and other 3M Commercial Solutions specialty privacy films. Approximately 20 percent of the PSP’s overall business is made up of digitally printed window graphics.
“Awesome Graphics saw a growing demand to stay ahead of the curve and offer all types of window signage,” shares Napolitano regarding the company’s decision to offer window graphics. “We use a great perforated window material that allows the image to look incredible from the outside while still enabling visibility from the inside. Printing on these films allows our customers to showcase their amazing work in full color and let their window spaces tell a story.”
While most of its window graphic production is smooth sailing, the biggest challenges involve improper or missing measurements from clientele. This issue is addressed by conducting site visits or sending disclaimers.
For window treatments that require die cutting—such as logos, text, or cut speciality films—Awesome Graphics uses a Roland DGA Corporation DGA SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640 large format printer/cutter. The company has owned the multifunctional device since 2009. It features two inline mirrored printheads, integrated printing and contour-cutting technology, as well as GREENGUARD Gold Certified Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks in seven- or eight-color configurations.
For perforated window graphics and opaque vinyls, the shop typically prints using its HP Inc. Latex 570 device with water-based HP latex inks. It was installed in 2017. Napolitano says this machine offers accurate color, long lasting vibrant graphics and some eco-friendly properties.
The 64-inch HP Latex 570 printer offers output speeds of up to 248 feet per hour in indoor quality mode. It features native 1,200 dpi resolutions, user changeable printheads, as well as automatic nozzle replacement.
Last year, Awesome Graphics produced stunning window graphics for repeat customer, Danforth Pewter. The decorative metal fabricator wanted to showcase its work in high-traffic areas using its storefront windows as effective point of purchase graphics.
Based in Middlebury, VT, the client makes pewter inspired by ancient craft and modern design. Some of its products include Christmas ornaments passed down through generations, oil lamps to light cozy homes, and jewelry to adorn the everyday.
The PSP printed on 80/20 perforated window media, which Napolitano felt would provide the visual impact and visibility the client wanted. Danforth Pewter’s art department sent over high-resolution, print-ready files.
For this particular job, the HP Latex 570 was used to complete all 78 square feet of the graphics.
Awesome Graphics also handled installation. The shop’s 3M trained and certified installers applied the graphics in the client’s Burlington and Waterbury, VT storefront locations.
“Install went smoothly and we enjoyed seeing the storefronts come to life with window graphics,” shares Napolitano.
Reacting to Current Life
At press time, Awesome Graphics was in the process of completing work for its local hospital as well as medical offices and businesses in the area with COVID-19-related signage.
Napolitano feels this type of work is essential to the community. “It educates the public on social distancing, traffic control, and how/when businesses are operation,” she offers.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Awesome Graphics went from a seven day work week to five. It also spread out staff so there were only four people working at a time. The team also implemented a vigorous schedule of sanitizing and cleaning all work and common areas every two hours.
Marketing that the company was open and offering its traditional offerings in addition to COVID-19-related products involved sending out newsletters to its clients. The emails also provided information on a sponsored yard sign campaign—I Love Rutland.
Throughout the pandemic, Awesome Graphics also printed messages of safety and thanks to essential workers and gave yard signs out to interested parties.
Napolitano and the rest of the team knew that pivoting during this point in time and providing product related to the crisis was the right thing to do.
Awesome Graphics supports both local and national clients through a range of graphic offerings, including window graphics. The company continues to invest in the latest equipment to serve the growing demands of the its clientele community during times of crisis.
Aug2020, Digital Output