Last time we checked in with AW Artworks, owner Andy Wredberg was in the midst of a big restoration job on the print shop’s new facility, housed in an old bank building originally constructed in 1899. The point of AW Artworks’ move and subsequent months of painstaking restoration was to put AW Artworks front and center in Sun Prairie, Wis.
This weekend, AW Artworks officially opened for walk-in business at the new location. Previously, says Wredberg, the sign on the door said, “By Appointment Only,” and the door was locked while the crew restored the building and produced prints for its clients behind those closed doors.
Wredberg decided to go ahead and do a “soft” opening in conjunction with a block party this past weekend. Now that AW Artworks is open, the next step is a grand opening with a reception, give-aways and prizes to really get the community involved and bring more attention to the shop.
“Before, when we had just a few canvas prints in the window, people who passed by thought we were a photo studio. Now people know what we’re all about since the banner and the A-frame sign out front tells them exactly what we do: Turn your photos into canvas, graphic design, banners, custom home décor, trade show displays and so forth,” explains Wredberg.
The banner (pictured here) was printed on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, a material Wredberg describes as striking the perfect balance of quality and economy for that application. “We love it as an inexpensive but very sharp-looking banner,” says Wredberg.
Finding that balance is exactly how Wredberg approached the renovation of the building for the print studio. The sweet spot Wredberg was after could be described in one word: Approachable. The studio’s overall look should appeal to those looking for top-notch reproductions and those who need commercial work done quickly.
“My thinking behind this place is to bridge the gap between a ritzy, high-end art gallery and Kinko’s. I want it to be approachable, but I don’t want it to look like a cheap, fast place since we’re focusing on high-quality materials and prints. We’ll offer banners, signs and trade show displays, but at the same time, if you’re an artist or photographer we’re second to none for quality,” explains Wredberg.
Judging by the photos from the newly-renovated studio, and the feedback from the first walk-in potential customers, AW Artworks succeeded in its mission. Wredberg also decided to make his two Canon 44-inch printers (an iPF8300 and an iPF8100) a focal point of the main studio area.
“We intentionally put the printers in the front room so you can see them in action. Whenever someone sees a massive print coming off these printers they stop and gawk. That’s part of us bridging the gap between those two worlds,” says Wredberg.
Another finishing touch – beyond the detailed restoration of the building’s original marble and wood floors and ceiling accents – includes Victorian-style picture rails and a plethora of canvas prints that hang from them.
“It looks sharp and is very functional for wall displays. It’s a snap to put the picture rails up, hang them level and space them evenly,” says Wredberg. “Pretty much everything in here is printed on Sunset Select Matte Canvas, plus we just tried some of the Sunset Reserve Matte Canvas and loved the texture of that for art prints; I like the tooth it has on it. We’ll do some mounted prints on Sunset Photo eSatin and we still have a few finishing touches on the studio to complete for the grand opening.”