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Environmental Graphics Experts Set Inspiring Examples

Branding, wayfinding, and other recent applications in environmental graphic design (EGD) demonstrate how wide-format print specialists can help connect people to place.




SEEMINGLY SIMPLE EXAMPLES of environmental graphics can be more complicated than they appear. Consider a recent directional signage project from CR&A Custom. Although it consisted largely of color-coded arrows and labels, the work actually turned out to be ideal for a digital printing specialist armed with the latest imaging technologies. In a very different wayfinding project, bluemedia got creative while also proving the value of its in-house fabrication capabilities. Meanwhile, a corporate rebranding project from Eclipse Creative is a more subtle example of graphics guiding people through space. Altogether, this collection of applications is revealing in terms of what stands out in the pursuit of environmental graphics work.

(Tempe, Arizona)

When installations go awry due to events beyond anyone’s control, deep experience and resources in reserve can go a long way. Consider the experience of bluemedia this past May, when a once-in-a-thousand-year storm slammed southern Florida just in time for the second edition of the Formula One Crypto.Com Miami Grand Prix. Nonetheless, the crew got the job done. “The venue did a great job of dealing with it and pumping the water out, but it was just a disgusting, dirty environment for a while,” recalls Harlan Roberts, senior director of national accounts.

However, the PSP’s nimble deployment of available resources isn’t all that set this installation apart. Just as notable was the creative construction of the 8-foot-high map boxes, 14-foot-high towers, and 20-foot-wide bridge spans. Produced in the company’s in-house fab shop, these elements feature adjustable “feet” for uneven terrain and interchangeable parts to make them easy to break down, store, and reconfigure for next year’s race. The material – bluemedia’s own Eclipse, created amid supply chain challenges to fill a need for a low-tack, blockout material thick enough (8 mil) to avoid the need for laminate – is easy to remove from the aluminum composite frames. In addition to replacing the graphics, wayfinding can be updated by simply laying new printed material atop the old, Roberts says.

Tip: A recurring event could become recurring work, so don’t treat it like a one-off. Rather, strategize about what you can do to lock down long-term business.

CR&A Custom
(Los Angeles)

Wayfinding signage for L.A. Live, the sports and entertainment district surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Arena, may not rank among CR&A Custom’s flashiest projects. But make no mistake: This job would not have been possible without sophisticated technology.

In addition to a Durst HS350 printer and its UV Direct ink, 3M’s 3M-8590M anti-graffiti lamination and 3M Di-NOC architectural film were critical to success in printing approximately 2,000 square feet of “skins” for the sturdy, 0.5-inch aluminum sign bodies, says Masoud Rad, COO. The lamination maintains the look and feel of a brushed metallic finish while also protecting against vandalism, he explains. If someone does tamper with a sign – or, just as critically, if a tenant moves out – swapping the graphics is easier (and less costly) than replacing the entire structure or cutting and gluing letters.

Easily changeable wayfinding helps set CR&A apart from traditional rigid sign manufacturers, although not necessarily from other specialists in print, Rad says. “This type of signage could be added to a PSP’s product line. With better printing technology, UV inks, specialized laminations, and more printable substrates, this market is wide open.”

Tip: Wayfinding signs are often nearly identical, differentiated by little more than the directions of the arrows. Plan and test carefully to ensure proper printing and placement.


Eclipse Creative
(Gahanna, Ohio)

Germain, a family-owned network of auto dealerships, had more than redecorating in mind for primary training center in Gahanna, Ohio. Rather, the aim was to create an experience “to let associates know they are appreciated [and] invested in” says Jeff Burt, CEO of Eclipse Creative.

Here, each print serves as a touchpoint along a journey that tells a story about Germain’s mission and values. Created in partnership with design specialists at WSA Studios, the journey begins with 625 square feet of graphics enveloping the front of the building. Just inside is a lobby with a prominent mission statement, flashy brand displays, and an artistic photo of the owner made of associate quotes. Training rooms and other spaces feature various 3D design elements and messaging ranging from training summaries to process outlines. Even the stairway became a canvas for storytelling.

Graphics were printed on an EFI Vutek LX3 Pro, an EFI Vutek GS 3250LX Pro, a Digitech Trufire LT/X2 and a Mimaki CJV300-160, then finished on a Falcon 60+ laminator and two Kongsberg routers (an XN and an XP). However, the most important element of success in this project was working with the client to “harness and consolidate” masses of information into a design that “expressed everything they wanted,” Burt says.

Tip: Creating a journey requires looking at the whole of a space, but breaking that whole into smaller, digestible tasks can help speed extensive projects.





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