Masterpiece Murals

DCG One dishes out tips for outstanding mural printing.

“I could go on and on about the décor marketplace. I believe it to be the single most important market to enter if you are a wide-format PSP,” says Stan Lucas, wide-format business development manager at DCG One. The Seattle-based commercial printer offers services ranging from offset printing and marketing to custom packaging and large-format printing, but has seen such an increase in corporate interior décor work that the shop is expanding its wide-format department and adding a broader array of products and services. 

mural hallwayDCG One’s typical projects include graphics for corporate campuses, headquarter buildings, and retail chains building new spaces and/or upgrading existing locations. “We’re seeing everything from lobby murals, logos, and backlits to the creation of brighter and more colorful hallways, entry windows and doors, glass around conference rooms and offices, photo panels, branding colors, and methods for elegantly displaying employee info (like magnetic posters for events, who’s who, company info, etc.),” says Lucas. “Retail experience is also a hot topic these days: Windows, walls, ceilings, and architectural structures (columns, floors, etc.) contribute to that experience in newer and more unique ways than in years past.”

The PSP prints a variety of products for interiors, but its bread and butter is wall murals. “We’ve paid so much attention to developing all aspects of doing murals well,” adds Lucas. “It’s less about the machinery and more about the people and [work] ethic.” Lucas breaks down the process of digitally printing fantastic murals into 10 steps:

  1. Thoughtful file prep. Factors to consider include how much bleed is needed; where seams will land relative to wall impediments and corners; and measuring and IDing things such as cover plates.
  2. Proofing. Create a visual representation of pixel dimensions/resolution; full image with bleed shown; and fastidious PMS and logo color matching, even making adjustments by tenths of one percent.
  3. Site visits. Take into consideration such things as out-of-plumb walls and floors; shoot with a laser to figure out the bleed needed and perfect placement of graphic elements on the wall; and take measurements at several points and to the nearest 1/8 inch.
  4. Print in “high quality mode.” This assures spectacular, unrivaled image quality.
  5. Material testing. Test materials to determine optimal ink appearance, press operation, durability, and nearly invisible seams. (“I sometimes do tours and challenge people to find our seams,” says Lucas.)
  6. Ink research. Look into appearance, sheen, adhesion, fade resistance, and “scratch-n-splash” resistance for public spaces.
  7. Finishing. Verify all panels for perfect matching panel-to-panel through a prescribed QC process.
  8. Installation info packets for installers in the field. Generate easy-to-read panel identifiers that work regardless of how the mural was packed and unpacked. All walls should be primed properly for correct sealing of the drywall, using only experienced, professional, courteous installers. Aim for nearly invisible seams (no bumpy, overlapped seams).
  9. Labels. Ensure conscientious and accurate labeling of the outside of all tubes/boxes being shipped.
  10. Follow up. Take post-installation photos and create a project wrap up for in-house use and website promotion.
Companies mentioned within this article
View more from this Big Picture issue