Touchdown in Tile
An 8 x 10-foot tile mural homage to Dan Marino's career.
For the Las Vegas opening of Dan Marino’s Fine Food & Spirits restaurant, owned by the famous Miami Dolphins quarterback, the interior design firm wanted to do something different. "They had a conceptual idea of producing a collage that would span Marino’s pro football career," says Paul Whitehill, owner of Images In Tile, in Joplin, Missouri. But the firm had no design or plan for the collage. Images of all sorts-personal photographs, magazine covers, trading cards, and even a Wheaties box-were sent to Images In Tile for use in the collage.
A.J. Wood, art director at Images In Tile, used Photoshop to stitch together 420 individual images depicting Marino’s career, from youth football through induction into the NFL Hall of Fame. He then superimposed Marino’s image over those 420 background photos to complete the collage. Composing the graphic took 2 weeks of work. (Note: The number 420 was not chosen randomly, by the way; it’s a significant number for Marino-his career NFL touchdown record.)
After approval, production of the 8 x 10-foot tile mural began. The image was printed onto Beaver Paper TexPrint XP High Release transfer paper using the company’s Mimaki JV4-130, ErgoSoft RIP, and Sawgrass Technologies ArTainium UV+ inks. After printing, the graphic was transferred onto polymer-coated 12 x 12-inch ceramic Matte Tiles from Bison Coating & Supply (also owned by Whitehill) using a George Knight Triton 4 x 6-foot heat press. Printing took just 3 hours with an additional 3 hours to press the tiles. Installed just like regular ceramic tiles, the mural was applied to the entry wall in just one day.
The installed mural was a huge hit. The client loved the final artwork so much that new franchises can now choose to add the tile mural to their restaurant. Additionally, the number of eyes viewing the artwork has multiplied beyond expectations since it now appears on the cover of the restaurant’s menus.
"The greatest challenge for this project was designing the graphics," says Whitehill. "Scanning and stitching together the 420 images was very time consuming. And since the final mural is 8-feet wide x 10-feet tall, the graphics files were larger than most computers can handle."
Images In Tile has been creating custom tile murals for more than six years. "The mechanics of printing and heat transferring large custom murals is really quite straightforward, after you have the right equipment," says Whitehill.
"We went wide format from the beginning because there’s a lot more consistency when you can print and press large sections of a mural at one time," he continues. "I always tell people that a successful mural project is 80% graphics, 15% mechanics, and 5% luck."
IMAGES IN TILE