October 31, 2017
By Ginny Mumm
Calgary-based Westwind Design Group has its roots in museum exhibitry, but has evolved to become a full-service environmental graphic design (EGD) firm, producing everything from donor recognition systems and retail spaces to wayfinding signage and custom furniture, much of which involves using digital printing to add pizzazz to the final product.
“Every project is different, which makes it fun,” says Ryan Pearse, graphic designer for Westwind. “What I love most about this job is the creativity.”
Bringing printing in-house
Westwind’s team of nine employees can design, produce and install everything needed for their clients’ three-dimensional (3-D) spaces, including window, wall and floor graphics, kiosks and even custom digital signage apps. Its divisions include BetterGiving (for donor recognition systems), Shopfitters (for retail design), Storyspace (for branded interiors) and Spark + Forge (for custom fabrication of interactive and visual pieces).
The company only recently brought digital print production in-house, however, when it purchased and installed a 1.4-m (54-in.) wide Roland TrueVis VG-540 inkjet printer/cutter in 2016, to help keep up with demand for its services.
“The printer is fast, reliable and easy to use,” says Pearse, who notes the acquisition has provided his team with much more control over output quality and scheduling. “The quality of our production has definitely improved over when we were outsourcing it. Having these capabilities available to us 24-7 has been great.”
Making a high-profile splash
Westwind primarily uses the VG-540 to produce indoor signs and graphics for museums and interpretive centres, but it has also turned to it to support corporate branding packages with banners, decals and even vehicle graphics. The company’s first vehicle wrap job, in fact, was a trailer for the iconic Calgary Stampede in 2016. It was certainly a high-profile undertaking, given the 10-day rodeo, exhibition and festival attracts more than one million visitors each year. Westwind designed the custom graphics, printed them on the VG-540 and installed them on the trailer, replacing an earlier wrap submitted by one
of its competitors.
“That was a great client experience,” says Pearse. “The Stampede organizers were really pleased with how the new graphics came out.”
Another recent project involved a partnership with Brookfield Residential to promote its newest master-planned housing development, Livingston, which is north of Calgary’s Stoney Trail expressway.
As part of the project, Westwind built a promotional 3 x 4.6-m (10 x 15-ft) pop-up booth with signage and interactive digital displays, which ran a custom digital app. In this case, the VG-540 was used to print a full set of wall and floor graphics, specifically designed to draw visitors in.
“In keeping with Livingston’s brand identity, we tried to create a space that was inclusive and fun and attracted people,” says Pearse. “It was so successful, we hit our client’s three-month traffic target for the project in only three weeks. They were extremely happy.”
Taking on new challenges
Currently, Westwind is designing and installing window and wall graphics for a stormwater filtration system exhibit at an interpretive centre in Okotoks, Alta. The 83.6-m2 (900-sf) space will include 3 x 5.2-m (10 x 17-ft) windows covered in vinyl graphics.
At the same time, the company is also developing retail environments for a popular local clothing store and for a sunglasses store. As Pearse puts it, the team doesn’t shy away from new challenges.
“The most important thing for us is to design interesting things and make them work,” he says. “The capabilities of our printer help make so many of our creative projects possible.”
Ginny Mumm is a freelance consultant for digital inkjet printer/cutter vendor Roland DGA. For more information, visit www.rolanddga.com and www.wwdg.ca.
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