Feb. 11, 2020
Buffalo Springfield in 1966 wrote the song "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound..." and every time I think of signs and posters I can't help myself singing this part...
"What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singin' songs and carryin' signs
Mostly sayin', "hooray for our side."
Signs can be political, and I guess for that matter, pretty much everything can be too. I would like to focus on signage and posters used by businesses today. The signs I am focusing on today are the ones that appear in store windows, posters on the walls, signs on the floors (yes, that is a thing), and the signs that interrupt traffic on the street. The same digital equipment that prints these signs also produces posters and banners as well as "Banner Stands."
Signs don't cost a lot of money now because of digital printing, which allows for all the colors and creative designs you can muster from your computer. I get requests all the time for signage and posters, and it's quickly becoming more common. To be quite frank, I understand why I'm only surprised small businesses didn't take advantage sooner.
Let's start easy.
Banners on Roll Up Stands - are a banner that rolls up like a window shade and pulls out to display a poster. Very popular with trade shows, they are great because they can roll up in the safety of the stand, and usually include a fabric bag. The material used in the stand is normally made of vinyl because it stands up well as opposed to gloss (shiny) paper. The only limitation is the height and width of the stand which is normally 6-7 feet or shorter and approximately 3 feet wide.
Banners with telescopic frames can be as large 10 feet wide and make a great backdrop or tabletop display; be aware there are small, medium and large displays to fit the size you've selected. Typically the larger the signage, the more expensive the hardware and, of course, the sign, almost always based on square footage.
Fabric Banners look great when framed and give a "fabric look" to the image. Besides mounting on frames Fabric Banners, which are lightweight, can have grommets and pole pockets for hanging or displaying.
Posters are available today in either block out or photo paper gloss. The block out material prevents lighting from coming through the poster, great for windows and store under construction. The photo gloss paper is more expensive, but the images in color pop and are more common, especially when mounted on a wall.
Solid Posters or Signs are made of rigid materials like PVC and are usually are used as signage in retail stores on displays or hanging from the ceiling. Their lightweight material allows them to "stand" without much or any support.
Backlit Posters are designed specifically for a "light" behind them to "light up" the image and to diffuse the light.
Window Graphics are fun, designed to mount on glass windows. Be aware that if the window has a coating, you have to mount the material on the inside of the glass, which will affect image quality and visibility. There are a couple of different materials depending on what you are looking to accomplish.
Static Cling Window Graphics will mount to glass and easily peel off for repositioning. I recommend not moving it after you position it because they can fail to "stick" when removed often. If the glass is coated, the material will not stick, and you will have to print in reverse to have it "stick" to the inside of the window. The material for Static Cling comes in clear, frosted, and white.
Opaque and see-through vinyl applies to the outside of the window and has tiny holes that allow people on the inside to see through the material. The vinyl material will last a couple of years and eventually need replacing. Another Vinyl option is "Opaque," where there are no see-through holes, and you don't want the people on the inside to see through the glass.
Outdoor Banners are events and for trade shows, and designed to withstand the sun and the elements for some time. Outdoor banners are available in mesh or solid scrim. The mesh material allows banners mounted on fences or places where there is no "solid backing" so that the air can flow through without tearing the material. Normally you can "sew" the material edges to give the banner additional strength and apply grommets to allow for hanging.
Vinyl Floor Graphics are designed for people to walk on and will eventually need replacing. Great for attention-grabbing messages and designed to peel off easily to not damage the flooring.
Vinyl Adhesives mount to walls and don't always come off easily. Make sure to select indoor or outdoor as the "strength" of the adhesive for outdoors is made to withstand weather, and the ink is formulated for outdoor weather (UV and rain).
I recommend to clients that they allow me to come in or discuss with them what the intent of the sign is and its application before beginning to design. The reason why there are so many materials and options is quite simple; it is to produce the "best quality image possible for the application applied."
In my next article I will discuss some of the other products that can be produced by the same equipment, including "flags" with poles, mounted canvas, table covers, as well as car magnets, car wraps, aluminum signs, yard signs, "A-frame" sidewalk disruptor signs, and acrylic signs.
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