With all of the creative minds and customization options in the large-format and graphics world these days, there’s no reason not to give a new building a little extra personality.
That certainly was the mindset for St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center on the Minnesota State University Campus with its newly constructed student center in Mankato, MN.
Completed in the fall of 2014, the center’s interior spaces were blank canvases — ideal for custom graphics and finishing touches to give the center a welcoming and friendly feel. One area of the new space, a sleek, circular counter set up for group chats and snacks, was a perfect place for a personal touch.
Working with Clear Lake Signs of Waseca, MN, a division of Clear Lake Press, staff at St. Thomas More and Eric Erickson, Clear Lake’s pre-press systems administrator, graphic designer and artist, put their heads together to come up with some large-format graphics ideas for the blank wall behind the counter.
At first, the thought was to enlarge a photo as the backdrop, but as Erickson chatted with the church leadership, a new idea emerged.
“As we were discussing the details, it evolved into a custom art piece with a lot of elements relevant to their history and who they were and their mission,” Erickson says.
He took pencil to paper and started sketching. An old-fashioned, Irish pub theme emerged with a pencil sketch of a wooden bookshelf, a brick wall, Fr. Paul Halloran lifting his glass and a series of taps named after the nine virtues found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The books, photos and trophy drawn into the bookshelf all have special meaning to the church and its members.
The original drawing was 25-by-29 inches, which Erickson then scanned in at 1200 ppi and enlarged 750 percent. He added color to the logo and printed the image on four 44-by-150-inch panels onto LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric using his Canon imagePROGRAF printer. Clear Lake Press’ diverse services include web and sheet-fed presses, interior and exterior signs, vehicle decals and wraps, banners and all types of fabric applications.
“I had used Print-N-Stick on smaller projects. This is our largest Print-N-Stick project to date,” Erickson says. “I like it because of the white point of the paper – there’s very little show-through of the wall color underneath it, the vibrancy of color and the fact that it’s repositional. This project itself isn’t really a repositional application, but if they ever want to take it down, the Print-N-Stick won’t damage the wall underneath it.”
While it took the Canon only about a half hour to print each panel, Erickson and Clear Lake Press’ large-format expert Tonya Wittman spent the better part of a day installing the panels in the new fellowship hall.
“It was one of those projects, when it started, I was extremely nervous about it,” Erickson says. “All of those nerves were laid to rest as we were installing it. People would walk in and comment how much they loved the different elements and style of it and everyone was just so amazed by it.”
Next up: St. Thomas More and Clear Lake Press have more projects in store to complement this project and the previously completed exterior and interior signage for the building. Erickson says they’re working on a 12-foot mural of teen’s faces in St. Thomas More’s game room.