Towering Over Tinseltown
CR&A Custom Printing finds the perfect print for a metallic look.
Metropolis Los Angeles, a residential and commercial complex composed of four windowed towers in downtown LA, wanted to make its mark on the city with dazzling window graphics that spanned its two-blocks-long footprint. Located within walking distance to the Staples Center, L.A. Live, and the Los Angeles Convention Center, the company saw its buildings as blank canvases to display the brand to pedestrians and drivers, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local print shop CR&A Custom Printing agreed to complete the project. By doing so, the shop lived up to its name by creating a masterful, intensely customized look.
Initially, Metropolis wanted a mirrored window graphic design for the project, which presented a handful of dilemmas, including safety concerns. After some discussion, CR&A was able to talk the client out of the idea because of the danger it presented due to its close proximity to major roads and freeway entrances and the reflectivity issues it would present. However, Metropolis still wanted a metallic look, so CR&A got creative.
“Printing on brushed aluminum in itself is a kind of a challenge just because the material is really flimsy,” says Scott Kurosaki, VP of sales, CR&A Custom Printing. “It creases really easily and the ink doesn’t adhere to it as well as it does with your standard white vinyl because of the inherent nature the brushed aluminum effect has.”
The shop ran several tests on different types of brushed aluminum vinyl and laid down a base layer of white ink in order to print color over it. This needed to happen because of the intricacy of the photography being displayed: detailed blades of grass, butterflies, plants, people, and more. They choked the white back and found their brushed aluminum strategy would work on all of their vinyl options with a base layer of white ink.
The final decision? CR&A used its HP Latex R2000 Plus printer onto Hexis Brushed Aluminum vinyl wrap and, to prevent creasing, 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8509.
“We were able to laminate the product, which I thought would kind of kill the brushed aluminum look, but you were still able to see the brush strokes in the brushed aluminum,” says Kurosaki. “So, number one, from a protection standpoint, it’s going to protect the graphic, but it also made the install a hell of a lot easier. If we didn’t laminate it, it would have caused major creases and all kinds of folds. It’s almost like installing a gold foil.”
CR&A was able to use their internal installation crews for the project, and both parties worked together to make safety and efficiency a top priority. This creative installation left everyone involved feeling ecstatic.
“The client is over-the-moon happy about it because it’s drawing a lot of attention. With the pandemic going on, getting eyes on your product is tough, but here you’ve got a lot of drive-by traffic, and a lot of people walking by the development and taking pictures in front of the elevator,” says Kurosaki. “All around it was a great collaborative effort with Metropolis, our production team, and our art department.”