By Melissa Donovan
Creative collaboration comes in all forms. When envisioning a new brand, a designer, the client, and print provider work together to bring it to fruition. Successful endeavors occur when everyone involved brings passion to the table.
In the case of the late 2011 launch of Wahlburgers, an eatery which offers traditional American fare in Hingham, MA, executive chef Paul Wahlberg, his brother Donnie, graphic designer and illustrator Lisa Corrado, and Image Resolutions joined forces to create a family-friendly feel to a celebrity-oriented restaurant.
Image Resolutions, based in Norwell, MA, got its start over 25 years ago as a prepress service bureau. As the business evolved, it added Heidelberg U.S.A., Inc.’s small format offset machines and Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc. bizhub PRESS C6000 and C7000 digital presses. Primarily a business-to-business provider, the company saw an opportunity in large format and acquired a ColorSpan early on. It then found a home with Epson, investing in a Stylus Pro 11880 and then a Stylus Pro GS6000. The shop also owns a Roland DGA Corporation wide format printer for fine art work.
Bill Wenzel, owner, Image Resolutions, says they are a boutique-type print service provider, which allows them to experience and test unique media products. They rely on D&P Media for Print, Inc., their local supplier, to keep an "ear to the ground" for the latest and greatest substrates. This is how they became familiar with Photo Tex Group, Inc.’s Photo Tex wallcovering media, a user-friendly substrate.
The shop used it for an American Airlines job for the New England Patriots and found great success. When the Wahlburgers project arose, Wenzel knew Photo Tex would be a great fit for a wall mural in the restaurant.
Corrado, a trusted partner of Image Resolutions for over 20 years, offered the print job to them. Having freelanced in Hingham, MA for over 20 years working on both national and local brands, Corrado approached Ed St. Croix, a good family friend of the Wahlbergs and business partner. She pitched her design concepts and work began immediately. The creative process was approximately six months total, with the last two months working very closely with Donnie Wahlberg.
Wenzel entered the project once about 90 percent of the actual restaurant was built. The architectural design was executed by SOUSA Design. "It was a very hands-on process," explains Wenzel. "It wasn’t just someone buying and using the Wahlberg name—Donnie Wahlberg himself was very involved."
A main concern regarding many of the graphics was readability and clarity. Various elements of the restaurant had to be outfitted, including a green wall at the back that Donnie Wahlberg wanted to depict the close-knit family upbringing he and his brothers experienced in Dorchester, MA; menus over the order counter; celebrity portrait graphics; and take-out menus.
After initial consultations over the vacant green wall, Wenzel returned to his shop and printed two panels at 40 inches wide and the full height of the final mural. One depicted the Wahlburgers’ logo, the other the company’s mission statement. The plan was to adhere this scaled down graphic onto the wall to envision the final look and feel.
The background of the graphic included photographs by Stephanie C. Olsen of the Ashmont subway station map as well as triple decker homes located in Dorchester, MA.
"The wall was this blank canvas and Donnie really wanted it to tell the family story with a shared message about Wahlburgers’ food. It really goes back to their roots, sharing a meal at their table every night," explains Corrado.
Donnie Wahlberg was so impressed with the proof that he requested a full-size seven- by 20-foot wallcovering to be installed the next day. Wenzel initially stated they would need a certified installer, as he had never placed a graphic of that size on a wall, but Wahlberg insisted Wenzel would be able to do the job.
"This was a fun project for many reasons. We worked with a demanding client but had no problem meeting the demands. They were asking us to do things and we really wanted to do them," shares Wenzel.
Corrado agrees, citing that despite ten hour meetings once a week in person with Donnie Wahlberg; as well as additional phone conversations, emails, and texts; and then actually working on the designs, the last two months of the six month process were very exciting.
"The nature of how it all unfolded and the passion throughout was astounding. I usually hold an initial meeting with a client and then provide a design. With the Wahlburgers project, the client had more to say and it was an honor collaborating with such talent. By working directly in the environment the graphics would be placed, I got to experience everything that was happening from the build out to merchandising and that fueled my creativity as well," she says.
Wenzel installed the graphic, which was printed on Photo Tex media with the Epson Stylus Pro 11880. Thanks to the substrate’s user-friendly characteristics, the install went off without a hitch. He even had one employee that usually works the grill help apply the wall mural.
Photo Tex is ideal for installers that may understand the principles of the media, but do not have any experience installing. The temporary graphic stayed up through the grand opening of the restaurant and looked just as good as a final application. As of press time, it still hadn’t come down.
Donnie Wahlberg’s immediate response was that it looked fabulous because the tone is subtle as the message. A customer immediately sees it at the back of the restaurant and it draws them in.
The Epson Stylus Pro 11880 also played a part in the quick turnaround. An aqueous printer, once the graphic comes of, it dries instantly. Smudging and smearing were non-issues when applying to the wall the next day.
All the Fixings
Besides the wall mural, Image Resolutions also created menu boards with Kernow Coatings Ltd.’s Tak Lite polyester film, which adheres using suction cup technology. Wahlburgers required a substrate that could be easily changed out when pricing fluctuates, menu items evolve, or new items are introduced. Additionally, there are plans to franchise the restaurant, and if multiple locations request menu signage, it must be something that can easily be installed by available staff members.
Once again, Wenzel credits D&P for finding Tak Lite, which he describes as "mystical." Four 30x40-inch menu panels were installed. First, pieces of Sintra were placed over the drywall, then the Tak Lite material was adhered via a squeegee. It is protected by MACtac Graphic Products’ laminate.
Tak Lite was used for the logo in the center of the menu panel found above the order station, as well as for pictures of both Donnie and Mark Wahlberg found in another part the restaurant.
Image Resolutions printed the Tak Lite on the Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 because the product is solvent-compatible only. Wenzel says the colors match perfectly between both the Stylus Pro GS6000 and 11880, citing the greens found in the mural and the logo panel as exactly the same.
In addition to wide format signage, take-out menus were created using Image Resolutions’ small format machines. At press time, the menus were flying out the door—runs of 500 and 1,000 were distributed across MA’s South Shore and are still being requested.
Wenzel and his wife Phyllis, president, Image Resolutions, were fortunate to attend the grand opening of Wahlburgers in October 2011. There they mingled with a star-studded cast of characters including the Wahlberg family and even Boston sports figures from the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox.
With one Walburgers now outfitted in graphics, the Wenzels hope to do more work as franchise plans evolve. If 500 restaurants appear in a short span of time, he admits that it would mean an adjustment for the shop. However, if locations are rolled out in monthly increments, they feel they could meet demand with their Epson Stylus Pro 11880 and Stylus Pro GS6000 printers. "It would mean a lot of overtime, but it would be happily done," says Wenzel