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An Aqueous Journey

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 07, 2011

Photographer-turned-print provider Bill Louf finds wide-format success.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Paula Yoho

“I made them a small sign mounted on 3A Composites Sintra and they put it on what used to be a Starbucks point-of-purchase display. They put the sign on top and put nine bags of coffee with the label on it and set it right by the register,” says Louf.

He also created several 16 x 20-inch signs using LexJet Photo Tex peel-and-stick media, featuring the label image and the words, “A Taste as Unique as Sedona,” and had Hyatt put these on the window. “That way, if someone tells them to take it off, they can just pull it off and put it back on whenever they want or if they have different promotions. They ended up putting them up on the window and they’re still there today and it’s been a year and a half. Now, they sell more of that brand of coffee the Sedona Red Blend, than any other coffee.”

Then, when Starbucks approached him about printing inserts for clear plastic coffee travel mugs featuring the Sedona Red Blend image, Louf jumped at the chance to try something new.

“I printed those on LexJet Archival Matte paper with the same printer and inks. I said, ‘You pay me a royalty fee, I’ll print them, and you can trim them and put them in yourselves to increase your margins since Starbucks corporate is charging you retail on the cups themselves.’ Those things started selling like hotcakes and we realized it’s because of all the tourists that come here and they see that and they want to take it home.”

Evolving organically
Louf admits he never imagined when he was studying photography in college that he would find himself all these years later becoming a commercially oriented print provider. “It’s all evolved organically,” he says. “I guess I’m a good networker, and I just keep falling into these commercial-type jobs.”

The fact that he knows a thing or two about marketing from all those years of working with companies to promote their own messages hasn’t hurt Louf’s self-promotional efforts, either.

“It’s like anything else: When times get tough, you go looking for work that you know how to do. That’s how I fell into the Cliff Castle Casino job,” Louf says. “I was doing a design job for another client and when she samples of my work, she said, ‘I should hook you up with my husband – he’s the marketing director at Cliff Castle Casino.’ I went and showed him my portfolio and the next thing you know, I got a photo shoot there. I told him, ‘Your backlit transparencies look just terrible.’ There was banding on them, and you could tell they were using like 50-percent ink coverage. So I ended up getting that gig, too.”

Another recent job fell in Louf’s lap earlier this spring, when he was approached by an electric-car dealership in Sedona that was looking for help with a new tradeshow display.

“I say to the client, ‘Tell me what the tradeshow booth display is like.’ I’m told it’s a 10-foot booth. So I design this thing for a 10-foot-wide booth. Then, three days before the tradeshow, I’m told that it’s a 50-foot-wide booth. I say, ‘Do you have a budget?’ and the client says, ‘Not really,’ so I said ‘I’m going to have to add some banners and stuff to fill up this space.’”

Undeterred, Louf set to work with InDesign and Photoshop to create enough compelling images to fill up the empty spaces on the display, which the client called, “Go Electric.”

“I ran a bunch of banners on matte canvas and I ran some on banner material. I did a bunch of little signs I designed that say, ‘Gasoline’ at the top, like a gas pump, and it says ‘regular, high test, premium,’ underneath. All the pricing numbers are ‘0’ because they’re electric cars and they don’t use any gas,” he explains. “We didn’t do any of the signage on hardboard, so they could roll them up and put them all in one box. The client also had me do a bunch of those gas pump signs on Phototex to stick on the cars.”

In the end, the client was happy and Louf says he enjoyed the challenge – especially now that he can look at it in the rearview mirror of life – and see that it was another success in his repertoire.