If you’ve studied the wide-format market for long, you know digital printing has one huge advantage over its analog forebears. It allows print service providers to give customers exactly what they want—every single time.
There are few better examples of that capability than décor printing. This niche makes it possible for the walls of restaurants to feature gorgeous photos of the very ingredients that find their way into the restaurants’ entrees. It allows the lobbies of corporations to showcase stylish renderings of the company’s logo. And it facilitates the capability of pharmacies to place on their walls giant lifestyle shots of happy people using the stores’ products. Not just any lifestyle photos, mind you, but photos of the very ethnic groups favoring that store. No wonder décor printing is growing in popularity with print providers and their customers.
If there’s one trend impacting the décor printing niche, it’s that more and more people seem to be aware of its potential, said Lynn Krinsky, president of Seattle-based Stella Color, a 23-year-old business experienced in many areas of wide-format for applications from trade show booths to point of purchase.
“I’ve seen an uptick in people understanding it,” Krinsky said of décor printing. “It’s like they may have seen it somewhere. These people are all over the map from interior designers to more corporate clients who have done digital printing for some time now, and want to use it in stores and corporate offices.”
While décor printing can be more costly than traditional stock wallpaper, it offers benefits no pre-produced wallpaper can provide.
Stock wallpaper doesn’t tell the retail or corporate or restaurant client’s story, it only matches their chairs, Krinsky said. “If you consider branding a benefit, this is a huge one,” she adds. “It’s getting your message across and your brand across, and of course, a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Décor printing can reproduce anything from photographs to murals. It can be a custom pattern or a corporate logo. “Some of it is quite beautiful; it’s classy and classic,” Krinsky said. “And with others I say, ‘Who am I to judge?’ There’s no right or wrong, because we all have our own reaction to things.”
Most of the décor printing projects on which Stella Color works are for stores and corporate offices. The artwork may come from the in-house art department, or from a graphic designer hired outside the firm. If the customer is a lifestyle retailer, Krinsky expects to see more lifestyle images, but if it’s an outdoors outfitter, “we’re going to see mountains, skis and backpacks,” she said.
Pursuing the décor printing market has also made sense for Megaprint, a 16-year-old Plymouth, NH specialty wide-format print shop that largely focuses on production of retail and trade show graphics, says owner Jay Buckley.
“For us, it’s digitally printed wallpaper,” he said. “Whether it’s for a home or a business, it’s all the same. If you have a guy with a lot of stores, as he’s opening up new stores, [the printing] can be done quickly.”
Megaprint’s décor printing ends up in corporate lobbies and on eatery walls, but a “fair amount of work” is performed for consumers, Buckley says.
With a location “in the woods of New Hampshire,” he can’t count on a base of retail customers in the vicinity. Instead, the Internet brings the company business from around the country. Megaprint ranks high on Internet searches, which leads to potential customers calling to inquire, then sending a jpeg of the artwork they want printed, to see if it will reproduce well on wallpaper. Buckley then makes a small sample of the artwork as a means of gaining client approval.
One customer, for instance, wanted the Los Angeles skyline on his wall. He was instructed to find a photo he liked, which was downloaded at Megaprint, and cropped as needed. With the customer’s approval, it printed and shipped.