How I Got the Job: Sino Tour
Meet Icon Image Graphics’ co-owner and director of operations.
Q: Tell me about your day job.
A: As an owner and the director of operations at Icon Image, my day usually starts at 5 a.m. and does not wind down until midnight (yes, adequate sleep is not always possible). The bulk of my job is managing my team by answering installation questions, approving budgets, and juggling the schedule when contingencies arise. Having a smartphone with various programs on it to coordinate and organize our wrap jobs is essential. It makes everyone’s life easier, especially when I’m constantly in the field with my own custom wrap projects. We usually have six to 10, or sometimes more, different ongoing projects each day that range from custom to fleet, many being at customers’ remote sites. Aside from the installers that work directly for me, I have office staff and project managers headed by my business partner [and sister], Susanne Tuor. They are able to execute the expectations of each job that’s booked from the initial scheduling to the logistics, and, finally, to the delivery of the finished unit(s) to the customer. Because the design and creative process of my work is so important to me, I have learned to carve out time throughout the day to discuss deals in development with my team as well as brainstorm design elements for upcoming projects. My days are never dull because every project I work on has its own set of challenges and customer expectations.
Q: What were you doing before Icon Image Graphics? How did you and the shop/graphics installation company collide?
A: Before Icon Image, I was busy working behind-the-scenes on Hollywood productions with top movie professionals – especially with the below-the-line crew. I spent many years in the film industry right after graduating from Pepperdine University [in Malibu, California]. I have worked in many different capacities, such as a talent agent and a production coordinator, to name a couple. I met so many influential filmmakers, musicians, and artists along the way. The experience inspired me to be creative, original, and aggressive in my own path. Ultimately, it was the creative drive that shifted my energy into the wrap industry. We started small, with Susanne securing clients and me handling the installations. We built the shop from scratch and our reputation grew with our work. There was untapped potential within myself to engage in the wrap industry, redefine it, shape it, and grow it on my terms, and now, Icon Image has penetrated and made a sizable footprint in the entertainment industry. Life comes full circle.
Q: What’s it like co-owning a business with your sister, Susanne?
A: My sister is probably one of the smartest and most business-savvy people I have known. We work well together, especially when the creative component is called into play with our wrap projects. Though we have our disagreements, and sometimes our ideas and opinions clash, we strive for a peaceful resolution to impending issues while steering away from the personal aspect of our relationship. Aside from volleying ideas between one another, once a client pitches us a project, we always try to think outside the box to find unconventional ways to present the work in order to gain the most dynamic and effective results for our clients. Sometimes our ideas do not always work, but it’s amazing what comes from the creative process: refined ideas to use for future projects. We are both artists, and it’s necessary for us to take risks so that we can grow our business and push the envelope further on certain projects. As a general rule, we made a pact to refrain from discussing any business or work-related issues at family functions or affairs. These boundaries must be set. We have given so much of our time and selves at work that it’s nice to enjoy those rare moments simply as family.
Q: What’s currently on your plate? Any interesting projects of note?
A: We have both a fleet and a custom department. Our fleet projects have taken us to interesting places like Maui, Hawaii, and Chicago, whereas custom projects are complex with strict and seemingly impossible deadlines. But it’s this type of vinyl work that has garnered us opportunities to push vinyl films into the entertainment industry. From Rihanna’s current world tour to Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato’s “Future Now” tour to Florida Georgia Line’s performance at the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards [see cover], we have seen a nice trend this year of musicians and their creative teams infusing vinyl work into the stage aesthetic. Wrapping for two high-profile tours this year was worrisome and tricky due to the handling and packing of all the backline, plus the extensive traveling that comes with it. With Prince’s passing this year – and I am a huge fan – I was disappointed that two projects that were discussed as tributes (2016 Billboard Music Awards and the BET Awards) did not materialize for us at the last minute. But I am determined to make something happen in the near future for His Purple Highness.
Aside from the music world, we are moving into more film and television production such as two vinyl wraps that will be featured in a pivotal scene for the upcoming Universal Pictures film “Fifty Shades Darker,” the sequel to last year’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” that has been shooting in Vancouver, Canada. With the completion of the new Heisman project that was filmed last week, I’m in the midst of prepping a large-scale television commercial for a huge automobile manufacturer that will be shooting in Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Who knew most of these cars that you see on the small screen have been wrapped?
Q: What’s the hardest part of your job?
A: Aside from installing my own custom projects, the hardest part of the job is overseeing and managing a series of our fleet conversions with 17 other core members of my team. Managing a team of trainee, junior, and senior installers at my company, overseeing their growth and development in their craft, and monitoring their daily output or production on various jobs takes patience and the majority of my time. Because Susanne and I come from corporate backgrounds, our work environment operates under a corporate structure with policies and procedures in place. Our ultimate goal is to have a team of well-rounded installers who can work independently so that we can continue to grow the business. At the end of the day, we want to see our employees succeed at their jobs and to inspire them to make a positive impact in the vinyl graphics industry.
A: Our first “A-list” project was Jack White’s 2013 Grammy performance that involved our first instrument wrap. The Baldwin piano was my first glimpse, as well as the music industry’s first foray, into using vinyl film. Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck because I had never wrapped anything like that before. The pressures that came with perfecting a piano wrap for a major recording artist that would be seen by millions was both overwhelming and exhilarating. In hindsight, I am not sure if it was the bright, eye-catching color of the 3M Wrap Film Series 1080 Gloss Sky Blue that was selected or the fact that they thought the wrap was for Sir Elton John (many onlookers kept asking throughout the night), but many famous faces, including the crew, were taking photos of the piano while we installed it backstage at the Staples Center. About a year later, we were asked to work on Imagine Dragons’ set with Kendrick Lamar. The designers and crew came up to us and told us that the baby blue piano was still talked about backstage. More recently, we used 3M’s 1080 matte white film to transform Khloe Kardashian’s dressing room for her talk show. A crew member on the show started speaking about his stint on the Grammys a few years back in which he witnessed a piano being wrapped blue. Talk about a small world!
My favorite job would have to be Lady Gaga’s grand piano for the Oscars because of the sheer scope of the project and my former connection to the entertainment industry. To witness Lady Gaga, who is probably one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, perform on a piano that we had wrapped with so much secrecy, was definitely an illustrious highlight in my career. We were in the middle of Rihanna’s “Anti World Tour” (our first full-fledged concert) when the project transpired, and I remember not sleeping for two days in order to make this happen for the Oscars. It was well worth it!
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I am a world traveler and have been afforded an opportunity to visit or live in many global destinations, with Tokyo being my favorite. I am such a geek when I tell people I’m an avid collector of “Star Wars” memorabilia, and my latest obsession has been kickboxing and reconnecting with the self-defense practice of Krav Maga (official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces). I am also very passionate about philanthropic work. My family heritage is Cambodian-American. Many of my parents’ immediate family still live in the region. In fact, my aunt, Men Sam An, has risen in politics over the years to deputy prime minister of Cambodia. With such a rich history and a familial legacy, I love to return “home” and give back.