Got It Covered

Set your corporate clients apart with creative wall and window graphics.
ArtHouse Design (Denver) and DaVinci Sign Systems (Windsor, CO) combined to produce unique wall graphics for an apartment building.

Did you know that signage can change behavior, if only a little? Research has shown that subtly exposing individuals to words that connote achievement (such as win, attain, succeed, master) increases their performance on an assigned task and more than doubles their willingness to keep working at it. And savvy business owners know they can make productivity gains from crafted corporate floor, window, ceiling and wallcoverings.

For example, a 2001 study referenced in Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., compared two groups of undergraduates on their performance of an intellectual task. The study found that the group subliminally exposed to performance-associated words prior to the task outperformed the other group. The study also stated that “nonconsciously activated goals effectively guide action.”

Just don’t take it too far – we’ve all been put off by overzealous corporate signage. (Don’t believe it? Check out, home to a series of de-motivational posters and mugs.) Interior graphics provide an opportunity for companies to engage in what Dr. Cialdini calls “pre-suasion,” the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it. For example, customers see waiting room and hallway messaging prior to meeting with company personnel. 

Interior graphics also create an opportunity for organizations to communicate their primary areas of activity.

Interior coverings can be pure décor or a vehicle to convey company activities and values, not to mention reinforcing branding elements (through use of corporate logos, primary branding colors, images, slogans, etc.) that customers have already been exposed to through previous contacts and marketing. So, what are businesses trying to accomplish when they order these types of graphics? 


ArtHouse Design (Denver) and DaVinci Sign Systems (Windsor, CO) combined to produce unique wall graphics for an apartment building.
ArtHouse Design (Denver) and DaVinci Sign Systems (Windsor, CO) combined to produce unique wall graphics for an apartment building. Project photos by Anaïs Mares.

Denver’s 1515 Flats apartment building development, completed in July 2018, uses wall graphics as décor. “The developer wanted our graphics to be the art in the building,” ArtHouse Senior Designer Anaïs Mares said about her studio’s work on the project. “They wanted these graphics to brighten up the space.”

The studio created three concepts for the building’s multiple floors: musical genres, plant life, and natural elements (think water, fire and clouds). “For the third idea, we also incorporated an abstract color concept into the final design,” Mares said. The client settled on the elements theme and went with DaVinci Sign Systems (Windsor, CO) to produce and install the graphics. “We always keep them in our back pocket when we have a project that requires fabrication,” Mares said of DaVinci.

After ArtHouse’s completion and submission of the elements theme artwork, DaVinci’s production work began using 3M IJ 8150 graphic film and an HP Latex 315 printer. Each wallcovering panel also received a matte overlap of 3M 8510M overlaminate.

Interestingly, the final printed vinyl images were manually trimmed. “Because this was kind of a unique application, we figured it was much better to cut everything by hand,” said DaVinci Project Manager Al Lowrie. Using an automated vinyl cutter posed the risk of registration error. “We have a good size plotter here, but we don’t have one that can both print and cut an image that large,” Lowrie said. “The cut would not be exact.” 

DaVinci’s installation crew transported the vinyl to the building as complete, but uncut pieces. The crew wiped down the wall to ensure there was no surface dust in preparation for applying the graphic. “First the entire image was applied to the wall using a tape top hinge (temporary hanger). Then we did a scissor cut,” Graphics Specialist Jordan Santistevan said. “After that, we went over the sides with an X-acto blade to make a kiss cut right along the edge.” (A “kiss cut” involves running a razor blade directly along the artwork edge line.) 

After the piece was placed, the team went over it with a heat gun and roller to ensure it was flush to the wall. The original graphic files did present one issue for DaVinci – the client sent them in JPEG or EPS format – “so big they would crash our computers,” Santistevan noted. “But then the files were exported into TIFF format and we printed from those without a problem.”

Once installed, the themed graphics unified the multi-floor interior for a simple, peaceful and elegant ambiance.


Colographic (Commerce City, CO) produced exterior window graphics that have stood the test of time for the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center building.
Colographic (Commerce City, CO) produced exterior window graphics that have stood the test of time for the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center building.

Safe from the harsher elements, indoor graphics such as those at 1515 Flats should last many years, but what about outdoor graphics? Currently, 3M warranties its Controltac film for seven years and there’s a set of windows in downtown Denver that are taking full advantage of it.

The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center building includes a set of window murals featuring selected US presidents and a Supreme Court justice. They’re mounted on the windows of the Judicial Learning Center within the building, home to both the Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals. Overall, these images project a “wisdom of the founders” theme from the Judicial Learning Center, offering gravity and an extra-civic association.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments contracted the project around six years ago, and Commerce City, CO-based printing and signage company Colographic subsequently produced and installed the window graphics. And how did they get their foot in that window, or door? “The council has a set of vehicles as a part of their ‘Way to Go’ program,” Colographic CEO Cathy Burds said. “We had installed the vehicle graphics for that program. So, we received an internal referral for the murals project.” The Presidential artwork images were then supplied to Colographic by the client. 

As with witness accounts in court cases, one of the primary challenges is to keep detailed representations clear and crisp, even over a long period of time. For the Judicial Center, a long-lasting material was mandatory – in this case, 3M’s IJ180 Controltac Graphic film.

Colographic’s design team had to take into consideration the fact that each graphic would span two windows requiring an appropriate amount of space for the portion of the image blocked by the frames. With the design a matter of record, Colographic then printed the murals on their Mimaki JV33 printer.

Interestingly, the company installed the murals on the exterior of the building windows. Almost all commercial windows have some tint, explained Colographic owner Jimmy Burds. This tint could darken an internally mounted image. External placement also reduces indoor glare and heat from direct sunlight and ensures a bright image appearance.

Ultimately, each window received two layers of materials– film and 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8519, Jimmy Burds said, because even a durable film product will be heavily impacted by Colorado’s demanding outdoor environment. 

This two-layer configuration has been integral to the project’s long-term performance. Another benefit of the overlaminate is that it stops abrasion. “If someone ran a window brush across the piece, that abrasion has the potential to wear the ink out and make it fade faster,” Jimmy Burds said. “Without the laminate, you would abrade the ink. Also, we were able to increase the warranty over what it would be if the laminate were not there.” More than six years later, the verdict is in: The Judicial Center’s windows’ “as new” appearance impressively upholds 3M’s claim.


Signs of the Times April 2019

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