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Exhibition Graphics Expertise
Since around 2010, exhibition graphics in Dundee have been instrumental in my life and career. World renowned exhibition spaces for art and design are in my home city. Both long standing clients; Dundee Contemporary Arts and V&A Museum of Design Dundee regularly display painted and vinyl graphics.
Working with many gifted artists, designers, curators and technicians has also influenced my creativity. With every new show, I learn more. Opportunities are presented to use new methods and materials, continuing to improve and hone my skills.
I enjoy exhibition and display projects. Coupling my passion for typography and the strangely addictive challenges involved with gallery work.
Stuart Whipps If Wishes Were Thrushes, Beggars Would Eat Birds. Matt black vinyl on wall. Installation at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Typesetting by Valerie Norris.
Cut vinyl and printed lettering can be integral pieces for exhibitions and displays. Fusing the presentation together with a coherent look, in addition to guiding and informing visitors.
Labelling and information is as important as the items on display. Visitors’ eyes are engaged not only with the exhibits, but also with the signage presenting them.
A good understanding of type and layout is useful in the production of vinyl lettering. In knowing limitations for cut vinyl text size and weight, as well as understanding formatting for copy, saves galleries time and expense.
I regularly produce and install large paragraphs of cut vinyl text, from upwards of 4mm in height. Stroke widths of less than one millimetre are common. There is a certain competence required for accurate production of vinyl text at this size, and I have years of experience.
Particular fonts and styles of lettering also cut better in certain vinyl films. In addition, certain vinyls also apply better to different surfaces. I’m always happy to discuss these matters and provide samples of materials.
Eve Fowler Patriarchal Poetry 2018. Digitally printed vinyl on wall. Installation at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Photograph by Ruth Clark.
Attention to detail
Most often in exhibition and display projects, I receive third party artwork. The project brief and artwork files are provided for me. If necessary, scaled layouts are sent back for approval.
My job is to reproduce the artwork identically to the supplied design. I advise how to prepare artwork for reproduction at large scale. Whether in cut vinyl, digital prints or paint.
On occasion, it’s also important to source materials and test them. Sometimes, it’s necessary for colour matching, checking the materials’ finish and the vinyl’s bond. This avoids any guesswork.
Upon installation of vinyl graphics, the artwork is initially tacked in place with low tack tape. Any amendments to the positioning are made before levelling and then firmly applying.
V&A Museum of Design Dundee. Christopher Kane installation. High performance vinyl on textured wall. Project curator: Kirsty Hassard.
Smooth and textured
Some surfaces may pose challenges as well as the environment in which the display is set. I regularly apply exhibition and display graphics to interior and exterior surfaces. Glass, plasterboard, render, brick and wood, as well as floors and staircases.
Cut vinyl lettering is applied using a tacky paper. If there is poor paint adhesion on the surface, paint may peel off. Sample portions of vinyl can be tested on dubious surfaces beforehand.
Social distancing graphics are also commonly used for display projects. Graphics can be applied to uneven surfaces like concrete finishes and carpets. A heat tool is sometimes used to apply these films onto rougher surfaces. As well as primer coatings or post heating. These help the graphics to bond adequately.
V&A Museum of Design Dundee: Scottish Design Relay exhibition. Fluorescent and matt grey vinyl on plasterboard wall and plywood.
Project curator: Dr. Mhairi Maxwell. Design consultants: the design kollektiv Graphic designer: Kirsten Ambrogi.
A multitude of materials
For most exhibitions, I provide matt finish vinyl. This is used mainly for cut vinyl text and diagrams.
Digitally printed images are also common. Whether cut to shape or as large segments, like wallpaper. There is a vast range of vinyls available and understanding their properties is crucial for what is expected from them.
Sourcing more specialist films and coatings requires continuous learning of available materials and advancements. As well as an understanding of how to handle and remove them.
I advise which material is suitable for the project. Along with technical specifications for fire ratings, floor graphics slip ratings and exterior longevity.
Hand lettering is occasionally sought after for exhibitions too. Knowing paints which are high opacity, durable and eco-friendly requires experience. As well as connections for where to source them. You can read about hand lettering here as well as learn how to do it.
Rigid substrates and individually cut out letters are also available in a variety of colours and finishes. Along with stand-off fixings which can complement display panels.
Philip Colbert: The Death of Marat and the Birth of the Lobster. Digitally printed vinyl wall coverings. Installation at Wardlaw Museum. Curator: Claire Robinson.
Large format graphics can change the appearance of gallery spaces with every new show. Walls, floors and display stands can be altered and integrated for the display.
Using printed and cut vinyl for this purpose can carry themes throughout exhibition spaces. In addition to advertising upcoming shows.
Large areas of vinyl are tiled or butted together with no obvious seams, resulting in a grand format. The vinyl films are also removed with some time and effort. Leaving the surface ready for new adhesive graphics or a re-paint if required.
Johanna Basford Wonderlands. Matt black vinyl on wall. Installation at Dundee Contemporary Arts.
Challenges occur and I invest time into learning how to improve. I organise and manage large projects ensuring deadlines are met. I respond quickly with advice and present options for successful exhibitions and displays.
Interested to discuss how I can help you with your next project? Get in touch to find out more.