LexJet brandUP: Supporting Ringling College Students’ VR Game at SXSW

South by Southwest, or as it’s more commonly known, SXSW, is a convergence of creatives across the interactive, film and music industries held annually in Austin, Texas. Marketers exhibit brand roll-outs and new products and applications to attendees.

One brand activation at the 2019 festival featured a group of talented students from Ringling College of Art + Design. About 35 students, studying graphic design, game art, illustration, motion design and business of art and design, launched “Wet Dog Corp.” a futuristic, arcade-style virtual reality game that takes the player through various levels where dirty dogs on conveyor belts are waiting to be cleaned.

“Wet Dog is a zany, fun VR dog washing game that some of our Game Art seniors made in collaboration with Flight School. We thought it would be a fantastic idea to debut the game at SXSW at their Gaming Expo,” says Jamie DeRuyther, a Game Art and Virtual Reality Development faculty member at Ringling College. “It really kind of blossomed into this really, really amazing marketing campaign.”

To attract people to the VR game, the Ringling team wanted to personalize and brand as many eye-catching items as they could. From water bottles to banners to vehicle decals, the Wet Dog logo was everywhere. “It’s real-world stuff with real clients in a real product in real time,” says Jeff Schwartz, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Tallie Malka, majoring in business art and design with an emphasis on marketing, stresses the importance of brand identity. “Branding this company [Wet Dog Corp.] and promoting what we’re doing is what I want to do for a career,” Malka says. “Every touch-point that these people have, they know our brand. That’s why we have branded water bottles, branded everything.”

The students of Ringling and the professionals at LexJet joined together in a collaborative effort to design the graphics, choose the right media, and print the images needed for the project.

LexJet provided the media and offered tips to create many of the large-format printed assets for the experience including banners, displays, vehicle graphics, target boards and water bottles. Here’s a peek into how the students brought Wet Dog Corp. to life:

  • Because the team set up outside, they chose HEYtex Mesh for the eye-popping graphics printed on 60/40 pattern, providing see-through visibility.
  • Easy-to-read graphics printed with LexJet Production Display Film SUV were displayed with banner stands and strategically placed throughout the booth, providing directions and hints to gamers. This durable film was selected because of its excellent image quality and water-resistance.
  • Vehicle branding is one of the easiest, but most important marketing opportunities. The Wet Dog team rented a van for the event and created temporary door and hood graphics using HP Optimal Gloss Air GRP. This calendared vinyl offers a gray, repositionable adhesive and is perfect for fleet and flat-paneled vehicle graphics.
  • In addition to the VR game, a carnival-style game was created with images of dogs printed on HP Prime Gloss Air GP and then installed on backboards. The calendared vinyl with a gray, permanent adhesive is a print service provider’s best asset. This versatile product can be used for indoor and outdoor signage, menu boards, stickers and decals, and many other applications.
  • Using the HP Latex 335 Print and Cut, labels were printed on HP Prime Gloss CP allowing the students to personally brand the water bottles in the booth, on demand. The calendared vinyl with clear adhesive is perfect for stickers, decals and other graphics on clear or light-colored substrates.

The Wet Dog Corp. experience garnered over 900 visitors in a single day. To see more about this successful brand activation as well as see the products in action, click on the video above.

If you are interested in these or other products from LexJet, give us a call at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com, today.

Color, Fabrics & Customization Lead the Trends at RetailX

Our teammates at our parent company, S-One, made their debut at GlobalShop @ RetailX in Chicago last month, showcasing media options hand-selected for retail environments.

Fabrics were a huge trend all throughout the show, and S-One highlighted some tried-and-true favorites as well as brand-new to the market options.

“Fabric was everywhere, and it’s always going to continue to trend,” says sales rep Matt Radauscher. “The guys who don’t have dye-sub yet were happy to hear they had options to print fabrics on latex.”

Our team showcased HP Durable Backlit Fabric, a lightweight option suitable for SEG frames that’s latex-compatible. We also brought the brand-new adhesive fabric, Squid, which generated a ton of buzz. The fabric’s fibers are finished on one side with a special adhesive that is designed for windows. Squid can be printed or used alone to create privacy, block out the sun’s rays and/or display brand messaging. It’s an elegant solution for high-end retail and corporate environments. Stay tuned for more info to come soon!

Throughout the show floor, we were excited to see some emerging trends, most of which played around with dynamic color and customization. SuperColor Digital featured printable blackout fabrics that were enhanced with lighting features that actually changed the colors of the graphics (see photo).

We noticed that many of the exhibits focused on brick-and-mortar retail’s current challenge: competing with ecommerce by using dynamic, sometimes over-the-top displays to create a memorable in-store experience.

“When looking at the booth designs, nearly every one of them had some sort of electrical element in the displays themselves,” says S-One Marketing Director Terry Lynn Belzer. “Whether they were blow-up fixtures, floor fixtures or even animal displays with eyes that lit up. There was also a lot of focus on tactile experiences throughout the show.”

There was even an “Instagrammable” moment with a Game of Thrones-inspired display with a giant throne and sword that was a photo opp just waiting to happen.

Colorful, hyper-customized walls, windows, floors and even ceilings showcased the power of print throughout the exhibits at GlobalShop @ RetailX. To get a closer look at the materials that S-One showcased, please visit our RetailX page for product info or give one of our retail specialists a call at 800-453-9538.

Consider Earth-Friendly Eco-Solvent Inks

As your customers’ and the industry’s attention continues to turn toward sustainable and eco-friendly print options, and with Earth Day right around the corner, it’s a good time to consider eco-solvent inks. Epson’s UltraChrome™ GS3 ink offers an alternative that addresses those concerns while also providing the print speed, durability and excellent color precision you demand from your solvent printer.

The new technology offered in Epson’s GS3 inks solve one of the biggest annoyances of solvent-based printing: the 24-hours needed for out-gassing. These inks will dry quickly and allow printers to add lamination when needed on the same day. And while the production speed of the Epson SureColor S-Series printers are a huge benefit for high-run projects, the GREENGUARD Gold certification adds another major benefit: Environmental responsibility.

GREENGUARD Gold is a nationally recognized certification that ensures that the tested product is safe to use in sensitive environments like schools and hospitals because they emit low chemical emissions while also complying with the State of California’s Department of Publish Health Services Standard Practice for Specification Section 01350. This gives designers and architects an edge to earn credits toward a LEED Green Building Rating — a big help when choosing canvas wrap materials and wallcoverings. The UltraChrome GS3 inks also meet the French-VOC A+ Class criteria for low chemical emissions.

Because Epson’s GS3 inks meet these stringent requirements, there is also no need for special ventilation or air purification required when operating the Epson SureColor S-Series printers.

“We’ve heard more and more from our print service provider customers that eco-friendly is in high-demand,” says our OEM product specialist, Shauna Malgieri. “I expect to see more sustainable products to come from our manufacturing partners this year, so stay tuned!”

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Don’t Miss Our ISA Show Special on Fisher Textiles

If you’re attending ISA Sign Expo later this month in Las Vegas, be sure to swing by Fisher Textiles’ booth #4017 to learn more about these award-winning dye-sublimation textiles.

Formerly only available in grand-format sizes, we’ve partnered with Fisher Textiles to offer nine fabrics in 61-inch or smaller rolls. You can only purchase these smaller Fisher Textiles rolls at LexJet!

LexJet ISA Show Special:

When you purchase any roll of 61-inch-by-100-foot Fisher Textiles fabric from LexJet, you’ll get 50% off your choice of one roll of LexJet InFuze dye-sub transfer papers:

Please call a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538 to learn more about this show special, available April 23 to May 1.

Discover the full line of wide-format-compatible Fisher Textiles fabrics, available exclusively at LexJet:

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Top 5 Wallcovering Trends for Digital Print Providers

By now, you’ve likely looked into adding décor printing into the offerings you provide your customers. And wallcovering is a vital link in that chain. You’ve got lots of products to choose from, including the HP Latex-certified Vescom Wallcoverings, available from LexJet.

Vescom is known for its consistency and elegant finishes, plus installers prefer this Type-II-certified vinyl media, which has a non-woven backing that makes installation using standard techniques a breeze.

We asked our friends at Vescom for some tips on how wallcovering trends are evolving this year. Here are five of the top digital wallcovering trends they’re seeing for 2019:

  1. THE 5th WALL

Not satisfied with just decorating four walls, designers are increasingly covering the ceiling of a room to bring in the “other” wall as part of a more visually unified space and one that will stand out among the crowd. Vescom Matte has a non-woven backing that installs easily with common adhesives and installation techniques.

  1. FLORALS

Florals have made a comeback, but forget your grandmother’s wallpaper, today’s florals are more sophisticated and dramatic with a nature-themed feel done in a modern aesthetic. Vescom Tabby adds a soft warmth to a floral design.

  1. METALLIC

Go Hollywood with metallic wallpaper that adds an element of luxury and glamour. Vescom Metallic Sand provides a subtle shimmer for an ultra-modern look.

  1. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S WALLPAPER

Faux finishes continue to be the rage, from brick and stone to bamboo and grass, digitally printed wallpaper lets you create an artificial pattern without the cost and hassle of the actual material. Vescom Polster is a natural texture that emulates materials such as stucco, brick or stone.

  1. ROOM WITH A VIEW

A large-format photo mural makes a stunning statement, creates a visual escape and is perfect for windowless spaces, conference rooms and lobbies. Vescom Matte has a smooth surface and prints high-resolution photos and imagery.

Give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538 for more ideas on how digitally printable wallcovers can help you create one-of-a-kind projects for your customers.

5 Digital Printing Trends Every PSP Needs to Watch in 2019

While we don’t actually own a crystal ball, we did take a peek into the future to see what’s in store for wide-format printing in 2019. The segment will definitely continue to see growth, with banners, vehicle wraps, signage, wallcovering and window graphics rounding out the top five most profitable wide-format applications, according to a recent WhatTheyThink report.

The report outlined some key stats, including the fact that wide-format print is growing at a healthy 6.7% CAGR, jumping from $16.1 billion in 2012 to $22.3 billion in 2017. Nearly 3/4 of print providers say their wide-format print volumes have increased, while over 90% of print buyers say their volumes will hold steady or increase in the coming year.

So with all that potential, we took a look at some key activity that will help drive production and sales. Here are the top five trends every print service provider should keep an eye on as the new year kicks off:

Soft Signage Made Easier. Digital textile printing has been a hot topic for the past few years, but it’s far more than garment and apparel applications, especially for wide-format printers. Soft signage will continue to dominate, taking the place of rigid and heavy substrates for trade shows, high-end retail and backlit applications. Currently, only about 6% of textile products are produced digitally, according to an article in December 2018 edition of Printing News, but experts expect that number to get into double digits within a few years. Fabric manufacturers have been hard at work to develop textiles that run smoothly on wide-format options, such as latex and even aqueous printers. Also, SEG frames are essential for attractive soft signage displays, but have often required a lot of installation set-up, especially sewing the silicone edging onto the finished print. Now, with SignComp’s Front Load Soft Signage Frame, there’s no sewing necessary, especially when using a thick textile that works well with SignComp’s patented grip strips. It’s so easy to use that an employee in a retail shop can easily switch out seasonal messaging whenever needed. Check out this how-to video to learn more.

Sustainability Goes Mainstream. Get ready for a wave of printable media that offers sustainability characteristics that are either recyclable or made from recycled materials, such as the award-winning HP Recycled Satin Canvas, which uses 22 recycled water bottles for every square meter of canvas. These types of products will become increasingly important to your customer base, as many of them will demand more Earth-friendly options. Plus, you’re going to see more major corporate brands, like Kellogg and Kraft-Heinz vowing to use sustainable packaging that will be fully recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Our S-OneLP team is on the case to provide more sustainable packaging films to those printers, as well. In the textile arena, expect to see more natural fiber fabrics and improved pigment inks to accompany them.

Digital Décor Market Expands. As the typical “sign guy” has tip-toed into becoming an all-around décor expert with everything from photo reproductions to canvas wraps to wallcoverings, you can expect to see digitally printed décor options branch beyond retail and hospitality settings and expand into residential offerings. As print providers become more adept at printing décor materials and the materials themselves become easier to handle (think: LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric for wall murals), the opportunities are going to explode, while consumers catch wind of all the possibilities to customize their homes. And not just on the walls — windows become prime real estate for digital décor displays, as do the floors … and let’s not forget the ceilings.

Ecommerce Gains (Even More) Traction. If you’ve been ecommerce shy with your business so far, 2019 may be the year you finally embrace its possibilities. Offering customers the ability to upload their artwork that you fulfill in a variety of print products gives you a huge advantage over your competition. But if you’re wary of starting ecommerce options on your own, consider the possibility of offering fulfillment services to a number of up-and-coming art houses that are partnering with artists to use their original art to create everything from wall tapestries to canvas wraps to notebooks to t-shirts. A few big online names you may have heard of — Ikonick, Society6, Art.com … yeah, they’re all using digital wide-format services. Go grab those opportunities!

Digital Print for All Surfaces. A few years ago while at SGIA Expo, it became apparent that the new directive seemed to be: Print Everything! And while that was supported by a wide variety of print technologies, today, we’d edit it to say: Print Everything with Digital!  We’re seeing every surface covered with printed media, and more and more of those materials are digital wide-format compatible, such as LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g used to create lamp shades. The key to printing to more surfaces is a wide variety of versatile, all-in-one substrates, such as LexJet Flex Tek, available for aqueous or solvent print technology, and can be used for hanging banners, roll-up banners or even canvas wraps.

Stay tuned throughout the year to discover even more new and innovative products and exciting application opportunities to help you grow your business well into 2020 and beyond!