from the blog

ArtPrize 2015

Seventh ArtPrize, Sixth Straight with ICON

This past October, we wrapped up our sixth straight year working with the wonderful people at ArtPrize to add a little more awesome to our beautiful city of Grand Rapids.  This years’ brand was built by Conduit Studio and was made to communicate color — each participating neighborhood was given its own distinguishing palette made of Pantones.  Being a bunch of color nerds ourselves, we absolutely loved this approach.


Matching colors on three different processes

Even though we did love the Pantone approach, admittedly, we knew that it’d entail a bit of work on our end to make it happen.  Kicking out graphics and print for an event this large meant that there’d be a massive variety of applications — each requiring different print processes than the last.

Of course, our printers are all constantly color-calibrated to match as closely as possible to one another, but the nature of converting a Pantone color to a four-color process means that it’s going to turn out slightly different on each different printer, no matter how calibrated you can tune them.

ArtPrize Color Matching ap-bannerstands

Hence comes the bit more work. For each of the fourteen colors in the palette, on each of the three processes, and on each material we printed on, we poked and prodded our CMYK values to hit each Pantone spot-on. The results paid off.

Light pole banners matched window graphics, which matched the 20′ tall Monolith in Rosa Parks Circle, which matched the brick wrap vinyl on the HUB and the GR Ford Museum, and so on.

The Monolith

Big James had a penchant for solving problems, and solving problems he did.  Just so happened to be that one day he had a problem of figuring out how to build 20′ tall, colorful monoliths and then easily scatter them throughout the city in a tiny timeframe just to turn around and tear them all down again, all the while keeping them as cost-effective as is humanly possible. There was no instruction manual for this part but that never scared any Iconographer off before.

The answer:  rent some 5′ x 7′ x 20′ construction scaffolding, anchor it down with some big cement chunks donated by Kent Companies, add a smooth Coroplast shell, and wrap the whole thing with a massive full-color banner.


Printing on fun stuff

We’re always putting weird things in our printers trying to see what happens, and we often actually get paid to do it. Micro Kickboards came to us asking if we could print directly to grip tape (used on skateboards, scooters, etc.) and we figured we’d give it a shot.

The tricky part is that if we just printed ink directly to the black grip tape, you’d barely be able to see the result. Adding color to a black surface just gives the black a tint of color. It’s still black. What we end up doing in cases like this is printing a base coat of white ink to completely saturate the surface, and then immediately following the white with CMYK.

UV printing to grip tape

We also printed directly to gold, bronze, and silver Alupanel that ended up being used to indicate the ArtPrize finalists and winners.

ArtPrize Brick Vinyl Wrap