In real estate, the great cliché is location, location, location. AW Artworks realized that location, though an important part of growing its business, was only one element of many that would help take this fledgling print shop to the next level.
“We were kind of stuck in a warehouse-type location that didn’t have much exposure,” says AW Artworks owner Andy Wredberg. “We wanted to get into an area that was more visible so we could make full use of our printers’ capabilities.”
Wredberg found the perfect spot on Main Street in Sun Prairie, Wis., which is about five miles outside of Madison. The catch was that the building needed work. Built in 1899 and home to the town’s first bank in the early 1900s, the building hadn’t been occupied for years.
So Wredberg and his family set to work on the place on New Year’s Eve. It was tough work, but worth uncovering the gems they found, like the original marble tile that adorned the place more than 100 years ago. What was a relocation turned into a restoration and ultimately a revitalization of AW Artworks as the company moved from mostly wholesale canvas printing to custom, high-quality work.
“We want to set ourselves apart from the big quick stores. We will not be the least expensive, but we offer personal service and quality,” explains Wredberg. “I read the article at the LexJet Blog about The Blow Up Lab in San Francisco and it really struck a chord with me. They really stuck to their guns about not compromising quality for quantity – and that’s our desire as well.”
In a highly competitive field where almost everyone has the ability to shoot nice digital photos and have them printed on 8x10s at a big box retailer, the key is differentiation. As Wredberg puts it, they can make prints that are super-big and a variety of materials and finishes you simply can’t get elsewhere.
It’s one thing to tell a customer they have options, but quite another to show them, which is why Wredberg put LexJet’s sample Portfolio Packs of fine art and photo papers to good use in a Unibind photo album.
All the papers are printed in color and black-and-white so customers can see the subtle differences that make a difference in the final image and choose something custom, as opposed to the usual glossy and matte finishes they’re used to seeing.
Using Canon’s media configuration tool (AW Artworks has a Canon iPF8100 and an iPF8300) along with the profiles from LexJet has made it “super easy,” says Wredberg. “I just worked with Rob [Finkel, his personal customer specialist] last week on getting the profiles set up. One of the things I love about LexJet are the readily available profiles and the profiles have been excellent, plus it’s usually a one-day turnaround on materials from LexJet so that’s been fantastic,” adds Wredberg.
He says the most popular photo paper with his customers by far has been LexJet’s Sunset Photo eSatin. “It’s beautiful, durable and resistant to fingerprints,” Wredberg says.
Wredberg is working on the final restoration of the building for a grand opening in a few weeks. Right now the studio is available for work by appointment, but after the grand opening it will double as a gallery of local work and be completely open to walk-in traffic.