Murals in the city: How Sekanskin covered the Toronto Raptors’ journey to the NBA finals

Sekanskin specializes in exotic vehicle graphics using vinyl customizations. They create unique wraps from colour change to bespoke creations. With the business growing, the team expanded  its offerings to include vinyl applications on windows, walls, floors, and architectural services.

Thanks to the Toronto Raptors playoff run and the opportunity to create a series of unique murals, the team was able to elevate its current skill set while challenging themselves with new mediums. For this ongoing project, everything was magnified: the measurements, file design, and scale of production. Attention was given to preparation requirements such as using a rented scissor lift to install the vinyl on the facade of a building located on one of the city’s busiest streets, pick up and drop off of materials, ensuring the perimeter was safe during the installation, and monitoring the weather to ensure the wind speeds were ideal and it was not going to rain. The team had to be adaptable because these variables were unpredictable and it was an emotional rollercoaster, based on the Raptors’ success and the number of diehard fans that filled the city.

Early beginnings 

After building a relationship by meticulously applying colour change and paint protection films to multiple cars owned by a Toronto-based graffiti artist Tetra, Sekanskin was tasked with making the former’s new business venture stand out from the rest. Tetra’s business—OD Toronto—on Queen Street is a high-end consignment shop/museum, specializing in rare shoes, exclusive clothing, and one-of-a-kind collectibles.

Before the grand opening, Sekanksin installed custom ‘ODTO’ window decals to the security gates, anti-abrasion films to protect the $1-million skateboard collection built into the floor, as well as textured vinyl branding on the exposed brick wall interiors.

Uniting a city

Once the interiors were complete, Sekanskin and Tetra strategized about exterior options. Both parties wanted to use the store’s location, the CN Tower aligned directly behind the building to show the layout/positioning of the murals was intentional. At the time of the store’s opening, the Toronto Raptors were in the midst of a playoff run and the team’s superstar, Kawhi Leonard, was the perfect candidate to use as the subject of the building’s vinyl wallcovering. Sekanskin saw this project as a golden opportunity to put OD Toronto on the map, unify a city around its basketball team and its goal to bring home a championship—not to mention, further fuel the campaign to see Leonard re-sign with the team.

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Paint or vinyl

Sekanskin printed 1371-mm (54-in.) wide panels of 3M 8624 graphic film for textured wall material on an HP Latex 330 device, which was later laminated with 3M 8524 and trimmed.

Sekanskin printed 1371-mm (54-in.) wide panels of 3M 8624 graphic film for textured wall material on an HP Latex 330 device, which was later laminated with 3M 8524 and trimmed.

Once the vision was solidified, Sekanskin and Tetra selected an image that used the building’s thin and tall frame to create the iconic mural. The company used proprietary software to ensure there was no loss in image quality once it was increased in size by more than 9.1 m (30 ft). Sekanskin printed 1371-mm (54-in.) wide panels of 3M 8624 graphic film for textured wall material on an HP Latex 330, which was later laminated with 3M 8524 and trimmed. The installation of the vinyl took place after 11 p.m. and carried on through the night.

 

The following day, the city’s response was epic. Social media was buzzing with speculation about who could create such a unique piece. People lined the streets to get a picture of the building’s new look.

Media outlets immediately took notice and started to follow the story. Sekanskin debunked the myth that the mural was painted and revealed on live television and social media that vinyl film was used. Photoshopped renditions of the wallcovering appeared on TSN and The Score. It gained a stronger viral presence when the Raptors shared the image on the team’s social media feeds and featured it in their open gym video on Bell Media. People were fascinated by the installation as the ‘Kawhi You Should Stay’ movement picked up momentum.

Many businesses tried to capitalize on the success OD Toronto was experiencing by offering Leonard many free items, food for life, cars, and homes. The authentic nature of this project was hard to duplicate.

Change, change, change

After the first installation, Sekanskin designed, produced, and installed six other wallcoverings, with each one—due to the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard’s success—building upon the previous design with a bigger and more meaningful piece. They used photos taken from the games and artistically modified and photoshopped them to make a unique compilation. Tetra assisted with the vision and design.

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One such example was Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater shot during the series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Upon the game’s conclusion, Sekanskin received a call from Tetra asking to update the existing vinyl display based on this game-winning play.

Kawhi Leonard after the buzzer-beater game shot against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kawhi Leonard after the buzzer-beater game shot against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sekanskin jumped into production and within 24 hours of the game had two murals—interior and exterior—made alongside complementary decals, which were placed throughout the store. A team of highly skilled and certified installers was assembled. First, the panels were tacked roughly onto the wall. Next, a combination of heat-resistant rollers, TSA-4 textured surface applicators, heat guns, and blowtorches were used.

 

The public’s response the following morning was even more intense. People were amazed at how quickly the piece was updated. Fans proceeded to line up to enter the store to take a photo with the interior mural, which was designed (including future wallcoverings) to give fans an immersive experience. Every media outlet in Toronto covered the story, some of the buzz trickled into American news outlets, too. Rapper/producer Snoop Dogg also visited the store for his album release party and did a photoshoot using the interior mural as a backdrop.

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