Adding Large Format Printing to an Epic Multimedia Mix

Printing the cover of a proposal book with metallic paperWhen Cheryl Elbers joined Epic Multimedia more than a year ago she brought large format printing with her. Based in Sioux Falls, S.D., Epic Multimedia is a full-service ad agency that’s now even more versatile with the ability to print posters, banners and other advertising related materials in-house.

For the previous nine years or so Elbers ran a photo studio, pro-lab and creative agency. Given her diverse background in the graphic arts – from creative conception to production – she does a little bit of everything for Epic Multimedia. In addition to printing, Elbers does account management, photography, videography, web and print design.

Inkjet printing airport signageWhen Elbers joined the Epic Multimedia team she brought an Epson 9800 with her, as well as the expertise of her print media and ink supplier, LexJet. The combination was an excellent match, as Elbers explains: “Integrity is a big part of who we are; talking with people and not at them, just like LexJet does.”

Beyond the creative powerhouse Epic Multimedia has built that has led to its significant growth over the years, building partnerships with its customers is equally important. “We don’t want to be just a company to someone. We want to partner with them and make them feel confident that we can produce the results they need.”

Inkjet printing postersLarge format printing helps boost this value proposition. Elbers says large format printing is a growing component of Epic Multimedia’s product and service mix. As clients see the quality of the output, the requests naturally pile up at the agency.

For instance, Elbers says that some of the agency’s Request for Proposal (RFP) folders have been topped with a print on LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper (pictured at the top of this post), an inkjet photo medium Elbers adopted as a photographer. “After showing it to our clients, others have asked about the paper and requested prints on it,” she says.

Printing graphics for A-frames for retail and trade showsElbers also uses LexJet 7 Mil Absolute Backlit, Photo Tex PSA Fabric, LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas, EPSON Premium Semigloss Photo Paper and EPSON Premium Luster Photo Paper. “LexJet is so handy. Some salespeople can be overbearing, but when LexJet calls it’s not like that at all. I’ve worked with four or five reps over the years, and they must get great training because every one of them has approached it in such a friendly manner that you’re immediately comfortable.”

Posters for Troops Project: Coloring the Troops’ Surroundings with Inkjet Printing

Support the troops with inkjet printed postersEvery little bit helps, and you would be surprised how much a colorful, artistic poster of home helps our troops overseas. As R.J. LaBarba of LaBarba Fine Art puts it, “Day in and day out of staring at the same monotonous surroundings begins to grate on them.”

The surroundings of our military personnel, particularly in forward operating positions in Afghanistan and Iraq, are rather spartan, to say the least. LaBarba and his brother Mike, owners of LaBarba Fine Art in Huntersville, N.C., just north of Charlotte, set out to do something about it.

What started as printing a few posters from their original artwork gallery for anyone in the military they can find who could use a poster pick-me-up soon morphed into the Posters for Troops Project. At this point, LaBarba estimates that they’ve printed at least 150 posters for overseas personnel, mostly in Afghanistan.

Canvas wrap for the USO of North Carolina
LaBarba Fine Art also donated a custom gallery wrap printed on Sunset Select Matte Canvas, coated with Sunset Gloss Coating and stretched on one-inch bars. The gallery wrap is displayed in the main hallway of the USO of North Carolina's Charlotte Center.

“The Posters for Troops Project came about from a conversation I had with some colleagues mine, one of whom was a West Point grad who fought in the first Gulf War. We talked about the conditions in which they live and then I did some research into their current conditions at forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq,” explains LaBarba. “What you see are these shanty-type structures built out of plywood and converted cargo containers. Everything is plywood walls, army green and sand. They’re getting great support from home through care packages with drink mixes, food, laundry items and whatnot. And not that they don’t need more of that, but we wanted to contribute something they don’t expect at all, and more importantly, something to improve their surroundings and boost their morale with a taste of home.”

A Marine corporal stationed in Afghanistan recently wrote: “Thank you so much for the posters! The Marines here at HMH-463 have received care packages in the past, but I must say that this was the first time we have been sent posters, and it was a wonderful and refreshing surprise… Many of us have grown homesick for the beautiful scenery of the Islands [HMH-463 is based in Hawaii] and the posters have definitely brought a little bit of home here to us. The one of the beach scene is taped up next to my workspace and it brightens my day. Your thoughts, prayers and support mean the world to all of the Marines here, and we thank you again for all you do to keep our heads up and spirits high.”

Creating banners for the troops with inkjet printing
Thank-you banner for a Special Forces unit stationed in Afghanistan.

And that’s the point of the Posters for Troops Project. The troops are fortunate that R.J. and Mike LaBarba are master photographers and meticulous fine art and photo print producers, running two Epson large format inkjet printers. The troops not only get a touch of home, but a touch of home with a true-color artistic flair.

LaBarba struck up a special relationship with a Special Forces group in Afghanistan that also helped those troops with their “hearts and minds” mission. In addition to sending the group posters, LaBarba donated colorful 4×6 prints for the troops to pass out to Afghani children under the care of the forward surgical unit the Special Forces group supports.

That led LaBarba to donate two 28 in. x 50 in. custom thank-you banners printed on LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas, one to hang proudly outside and the other for the commanding officer’s office. The banners were given three coats of LexJet Sunset Gloss Coating to weather the harsh conditions and LaBarba says they both came through the tour of duty with flying colors.

Now back at their base in Florida, the company requested a similar banner they could sign and present to the commanding officer, who’s retiring in June. LaBarba was happy to oblige and printed the presentation piece on LexJet 8 Mil PolyGloss Banner.

Inkjet printed decor art for home and office
A sample of LaBarba Fine Art's fine art photography and inkjet reproduction for wall decor.

“We’re continuing this program and getting more interest from people who want to participate. We operate it as a non-profit, but we’re getting to the point where we need to set it up as an official non-profit. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process but it is absolutely worth it for those who put their lives on the line every day,” says LaBarba.

For more information, to get involved and to donate, go to

Big Canvas Wraps Bring Inspiring, Outdoorsy Touch to Indoor Gym

One factor that sets AW Artworks in Madison, WI apart from other small companies that specialize in custom canvas photo prints is the artful eye of the company’s owner Andrew Wredberg. With his background in large-format graphic design, he routinely helps clients envision how custom photo prints can enhance their décor.

“Instead of having to go into a sign shop or printing company with clear idea of exactly what they want, our clients know they can come to our studio and get a barrage of ideas,” says Wredberg.  “And we can turn those ideas into reality.”

It’s this type of thinking that helped AW Artworks win an assignment to create four extra-large, multi-paneled canvas wraps for the Princeton X Press fitness facility near Madison, WI.