Kinney’s advice to newcomers: “Don’t lose sight of being innovative, offering image quality, while focusing on sustainable print alternatives.”
ColorEdge New York - Los Angeles
To a greater extent than does Portland Color, Burbank, CA-based ColorEdge New York - Los Angeles focuses on museum exhibit graphics. ColorEdge was a traditional photographic print house, and once duplicated a million slides a year, said senior account manager John Gibson. “Now we’re a digital print house, but we also have a ColorEdge Professional Services division,” he reported. “That offers design services, where we render things, help design firms with their business, and have a robust digital asset management division, in which we manage digital assets for them.”
While most of the company’s business is serving the retail industry, “exhibit signage is a fairly large part of our business,” Gibson said. “We did all the graphics for the King Tut exhibit that is still moving around the world. Every time it moves, it has to be reprinted. We value-engineer it with the designers, so we know ahead of time how close the public can get to the exhibit graphics. We become our customers’ best friend. By thinking ahead, and protecting them, we ensure they have fewer reprints next time the exhibit moves.”
At Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, ColorEdge printed all the wallpaper for the Science Storms columns, Gibson added. The columns were 16 feet round and 16 feet tall, and all the wallpaper was printed in four individual pieces butt-seamed together to ensure no overlap. “The seams are almost invisible,” he said. “You have to get six inches away to see them.”
In addition, ColorEdge is handling the Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Huge images of dinosaurs on pieces up to 60-by-20 feet serve as exhibit backdrops. Some murals have images of dinosaurs whose bones appear in front of the murals, Gibson said.
Trends in this segment, he said, include wallpaper, green consciousness, and what he calls “extreme customer service. If you don’t have that in your DNA, you’ll never make it.... Anticipate the needs of your clients, be their best friends, and be their partners. I give all my clients the same amount of attention. When they know you’re on their side and protecting them, they’ll come back to you because they know you’re on their team. Anyone in this business knows that.”
Gibson has actually dropped in at museums and told directors, “Some of your graphics need to be redone.” More often, however, ColorEdge is brought in on projects by design houses, exhibit producers, and companies hired to do what Gibson calls “the fixturing,” such as large display pieces for museums. “Museums are very complicated,” he concludes. “You work with all these trades, and have to really coordinate your efforts with theirs and the [museum] directors.”