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Color Jammed

(August 2012) posted on Tue Jul 31, 2012

Bloomingdale Signs by Tomorrow turns a Chicago intersection into a massive art installation.

click an image below to view slideshow

The concrete buildings were wrapped in 10-ounce Supreme Mesh vinyl banner media from Ultraflex, digitally printed in 16-foot panels using the shop’s HP Scitex XL Jet 1500 then joined with a Miller Weldmaster to make five large building banners – one banner for each side of each building. “We also printed perforated vinyl from Clear Focus for the glass buildings,” says Schellerer.

For the streets and the sidewalk graphics, Asphalt Art, a foil-based floor graphic media, was used. “Typically this material is printed digitally on a UV-flatbed printer, but we found that for this particular application it was more cost effective for us to paint it. This also allows us to touch up the Asphalt Art after it’s installed, which we thought may be necessary since it will be installed for four months on one of the busiest streets in the city of Chicago,” explains Schellerer.

For the oval-shaped graphic in the center of the intersection, the shop pre-cut the shape using its Zund cutter to ensure they could install it as quickly as possible – so as not to interrupt traffic flow.

Lastly, General Formulations AutoMark Concept 230-54 conform vinyl was paired with General Formulations matte cast laminate and used for lamp posts, flower garden containers, columns, awnings, and more. Because they could not find colored vinyl in the exact colors specified for the project, the shop chose to print vinyl instead. The AutoMark was output using the shop’s 60-inch HP Designjet 9000. “The wrapped vinyl was a part of the project that would be seen very close up, so we refused to have any banding or visual imperfections on this particular material,” says Schellerer. “Even though it took 4-½ hours per roll for 30 rolls of the material, we got it done and done right.”

“The entire production time once we had color approvals was about three weeks; approximately 180 hours of total print time. Plus the three days it took to paint the Asphalt Art.”

Like wrapping a basketball
With production complete, the team was allotted eight nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for installation. Fourteen Bloomingdale Signs installers along with 10 Chicago Loop Alliance volunteers took to the streets to install the monumental project. “On the fifth day, we were rained out, which cost us an entire night. So, the install was actually completed in only seven nights,” says Schellerer.

The installation included wrapping many difficult items like intricately designed light posts. “Anything in a round shape is difficult, kind of like trying to wrap a basketball,” says Erik Marciniak, a Bloomingdale Signs’ 3M-certified installer And with all of the intricate designs in the light pole, it takes a lot of heat, a lot of time, and a lot of patience.” On the final night of installation, the team wrapped up at about 4:00 the next morning.

Color Jam will be displayed through September, during which the Loop Alliance invites the public to participate in a series of programs – or “Jams” – taking the form of concerts, talks, and happenings throughout the Loop. In addition, several Loop businesses are offering Color Jam-themed specials, ranging from drinks called “color-tinis” to “jammin’” hotel discounts. Color Jam’s “Jam Cam” streams live video of the intersection on the Loop Alliance website ( of pedestrians and traffic interacting with the installation during their daily commute.

At the end of installation, Bloomingdale Signs will handle wrap removals from all of the buildings and street objects, while Loop Alliance volunteers will remove the street graphics.