The History Of Graphic Design

What is graphic designing? What is the history of graphic design? How do you wrap a vehicle? What kinds of software and equipment do you need? Well I am here to tell you the basics of what you need to know. I will talk about the history, how to get customers, selling and marketing your product, the equipment that will be needed, material, and the software that is recommended. I will also be telling you about the software program that I have used for my project. You will also read about the steps of the project from start to finish. Now let's talk a little about the history or graphic designing.

In the early 1900’s, the first advertisement was done through a car. At this time there was no such thing as vinyl, instead the car wrapping process only involved painting. According to journalist Xtreme Digital GraphiX, from the article How Car Wrapping Has Evolved Over the Years, “Milton Hershey was the first person to advertise a service through his automobile. Hershey used his car to promote his painting services by painting his own brand on the vehicle.” (Para.1) In just twenty-six years there would be new options available for the market. Fast forward to 1926, the invention of vinyl chloride changed the world of graphics drastically. “It’s a multipurpose and plastic-like material that is very flexible and can be made into any colour. Believe it or not, it was accidentally discovered in 1926 by the Goodrich Corporation.” (Digital GraphiX2) “Even later in the 1980’s vinyl has become affordable for small businesses. Before the 1980’s it was too expensive to produce and process, and only major companies like the U.S. Air Force could afford to use the vinyl graphics that were self-adhesive.” (Digital GraphiX3) As the 21st Century rolled around, their became cheaper and improved vinyl graphics. Equipment to create vinyl graphics and produce amazing designs were being manufactured rapidly; changing the way vinyl graphics were created. There has been recent advancements in product lines and printing capabilities in the modern times. Modern times are now allowing to produce more vivid colours and faster speeds of printing. “Car wrapping advancements are now changing the way we do business and is now offering products to the customers that were unable to be offered before.” (Digital GraphiX4)

Now that we all know a little about the history, let’s talk about how to sell and market your products. How are you going to make a business if you have absolutely zero customers? Well, your business is not going to be very successful. So how are we going to get customers to buy our products and want us to design a vehicle wrap for them? Start by going around to different businesses, go out and talk to people. Find a business, make a design for the business and take them the finished product and see if that is something they would be interested in. That will be one of many good ways to get your name and business out there in the world. Customers are going to want to know why you think vehicle wrapping is a cheaper way to advertise their business. According to author Craig Campbell, from the book Vehicle Wrapping, “There are three ways to sell a vehicle wrap, comparatively, competitively and conspicuously.” (Campbell13) Comparative selling is the most compelling argument when convincing potential clients of the value of the vehicle wraps over other forms of advertising. There are different advertising methods… “I’ve put together a table with some strong arguments for you to lead with when having preliminary talks with your clients. (See last page for Advertising Table) Competitively Selling is pretty straightforward.” (Campbell13) Let’s say you just completed a single wrap design for a flower shop. Great, now what are you going to do with that design? Are you going to take it directly to that flower shop or have them come pick it up? That’s up to you, but if you want more customers than you should on your way to drop it off take it into some other flower shops and sell your idea to them. To conspicuously sell your wraps first you need to wrap your own vehicle. Wrap your vehicle to advertise your business. People will flag you down and ask for more information about the business. “I can tell you though, you CANNOT cut corners on your own vehicle. It must be a showpiece that you can drive every day and feel proud to be driving.” (Campbell15) When you are wrapping your own vehicle to promote your business you need to make sure it stands out, gets to the point and very clean. Otherwise people will not want to do business with you.

What kind of equipment are you going to need to get your business going? I would first start by thinking about a computer. “The computer is still at the heart of any vehicle wrap production.” (Campbell17) You can get by with only one computer, but it is recommended to have two. With one computer you will need a very powerful computer to handle both the designing process and the RIP (Raster Image Processor). “The RIP is the software which takes your graphic file (the wrap design) and turns it into a readable language that the printer can understand.” (Campbell17) “So if your do not already own a computer for the design part of the production process, here are some specifications you should consider for your system before purchasing; Intel Core 2 Quad; Processor, 8 GB of DDR2 RAM, 384MB Video card and a 500GB hard drive(s).” (Campbell17) How are you going to print the designs out on vinyl with your office computer? Well you can’t. “The most important part of the production process is printing the product.” (Campbell16) The primary idea of a vehicle wrap is to design an image or message that can be printed on pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) vinyl, which is laminated with a matched pressure-sensitive laminate. Printing is the most important part of the production process when printing a graphic. “You can have the best design and the best application, but it won’t matter one bit if the printed graphic looks like you know what.” (Campbell16) Printers that are considered large-format printers- which normally range from 30-in. To 110-in. In width are the types of printers normally recommended for vehicle wrapping. “However, the most popular size used in this application is 54-inch.” (Campbell16) Now, what about ink? “The ink for the types of printers used in vehicle wraps is solvent-based. In order for the image to be printed onto the PSA vinyl, the inks must literally penetrate the surface of the vinyl - that’s where the solvent comes in.” (Campbell16) “The solvent is a carrier for the pigment of the ink” (Campbell17) When preheating the vinyl it allows the “pores” to open up and accept the inks more swiftly. The most important thing to remember when printing is to be well safely ventilated and any ink waste should be disposed of properly.

“The laminator is absolutely crucial to the vehicle wrapping process.” (Campbell17) During the laminating process, “the laminator is designed to apply the film laminate with the correct amount of pressure to ensure both proper adhesion and to give the print a smooth, finished look.” (Campbell17) “The adhesion of the laminate to the print is extremely important as it prevents any premature separation of the laminate from the printed graphic.” (Campbell17) There are many laminators on the market; make sure that you stay away from the “mounting” or “quick-mounting” laminators. “These typically only feature only one pressure roller.” (Campbell17) It is ideal that you buy a laminator with two pressure rollers that merge the two films together. Always make sure you buy the correct equipment that is needed for your business.

How do you make a vehicle wrap design on the computer? Well there are some different software programs to make a design on the computer. Flexi is the software program that I used to create my design for the car that I wrapped. Flexi is one of the only sign programs that offers an all-in-one solution for designing, printing and cutting for print/sign providers. This software was made with specific design tools as well as print, direct vinyl cutting and cut capabilities. Another great software used by Graphic Designers is ONYX Graphics. “ONYX helps you improve your bottom line results by reducing printing costs and increasing productivity.” (Campbell18) “By combining color science, image processing and print production knowledge, ONYX delivers powerful, reliable printing workflow solutions.” (Campbell18) Along with having software it also comes with software upgrades. Some software upgrades that you would need for vehicle wrapping would be Vehicle Template Software and Background/Fills Software. “Vehicle Template Software are packages that have the complete outline, in scaled form, of many of the modern vehicles you see on the road today.” (Campbell19) To use these packages you simply open them with the software you have purchased and then you can begin to perform building your file on top of the outline. “The cool thing is that you can design around challenging areas of the vehicle such as door handles and wheel-wells.” (Campbell19) “The other advantage to this software is that you can see the finished product before you begin printing, and you can offer this as a proof of concept to your customer to approve before beginning production of the job.” (Campbell19) “The Background/Fills Software is a software package that offers you a virtually unlimited library of custom fills to enhance your vehicle wrap design.” (Campbell19) “In this package you’ll find anything from scenic nature backgrounds to diamond plate texture to animal hides.” (Campbell19) To use these custom fills all you have to do is drag and drop into the vehicle design file and can be scaled to be fit accordingly. “They are all high-quality images so there is no worry of distortion or pixilation of the final product.” (Campbell19) These companies offer different packages to meet your design needs, along with a variety of tutorials and videos to help you along the way.

What are adhesives; what do they do with your vehicle wrap? “Before we go further, you should understand that adhesive power is defined by the mechanical means needed to remove it from the substrate.” (Campbell22) There are two types of adhesives that graphic designers are very well are with; but graphic designers should know a little about the third adhesive, you never know when you might need to use it. “Permanent adhesive are designed to be just that- permanent.” (Campbell22) “This means that extra measures are required to break the bond the adhesive has with the substrate.” (Campbell22) “These can be application of heat, scrapers or chemical removers.” (Campbell22) “Also, as with typical permanent adhesives, there is the potential the substrate will also be damaged during the removal process.” (Campbell22) Re[ositionable adhesives is still technically a permanent adhesive; it is still used most for performing vehicle wraps. “This adhesive allows us to position the graphic on the vehicle, apply it, and reapply, if need to be.” (Campbell22) “If there’s a wrinkle, crease or bubble, we can simply lift it back off with ease to correct the problem.” (Campbell22) “The permanent side of the adhesive is what gives it the ability to stay down when applied to curves, corrugations and rivets.” (Campbell22) Removable adhesives are what the name says, removable and they are easily removable. “This is due to a much lower adhesive capability than that of a permanent adhesive.” (Campbell22) “This means you do not have to worry about using any extra effort in the removal process, nor do you have to worry about the substrate getting damaged.” (Campbell23) “It’s a great solution for short-term wraps where the majority of what is being wrapped is flat.” (Campbell23) “However, the lack of adhesives strength is also why you do not want to use this on compound curves, corrugations or rivets.”(Campbell23) “Removable adhesive simply do not have the power to stay down and will ultimately release from the substrate.” (Campbell23) With the choice of these three types of adhesives, you should choose wisely which adhesive you will use on which type of vehicle wrap.

“Once you’ve sold the wrap, it is always a good idea to meet with your client for a design consultation.” (Campbell24) “During this consultation consider the following… design budget, design style, marketing objective and the artwork.” (Campbell24) “When considering the budget of the design you should ask “What portion of the total job do they want to spend on design?” (Campbell24) “The cost should depend on the time you must spend putting the design together and the level of complexity the design entails.” (Campbell24) “Also, consider if any high resolution photos need to be purchased to be incorporated into the graphic as these will cost extra.” (Campbell24) Make sure you always get a deposit from the customer before proceeding with any proofs. Without a deposit your customer could take your design and go around to find a cheaper place to have their design printed and applied. Getting a deposit from your customer will more or less guarantee that you get the job. “What are specific things the client wants incorporated into the design?” (Campbell24) “These could be anything from blue skies to barbed wire, but getting to know your client will give you the insight you need to create a design they will love.” (Campbell24) “Here you should also discuss any logos or slogans they may already have developed and wish to use in the design.” (Campbell24) What is the vehicle wrap for? Is it for a short-term promotion or will it be used for a long-term branding image for a company? “This matters because it affects the content used in the wrap and gives your customer confidence in you that you are asking all the right questions.” (Campbell24) “While you have the client there, ask for any artwork they may already have developed.” (Campbell24) “Also, let them know that any high resolution photos they want would need to be purchased from a licensed source such as or” (Campbell24) Confirm with your clients about everything mentioned above and keep your clients happy so then they will come back.

“The vehicle template software discussed earlier will aid in the design of your wraps.” (Campbell26) This software is proportionately accurate in regards to the dimensions of the vehicle. “However, you should always measure the actual vehicle prior to printing.” (Campbell26) “The most important reason for measuring is to avoid obstacles you can’t see on any of the vehicle template software, particularly the contours of the vehicle.” (Campbell26) It is important to make sure that you measure correctly and check your measuring work.

According to author Rob Ivers, from the book The Graphic Installers Handbook, “Surface preparation is a critical step towards successful vinyl graphic installations. Unfortunately, it is also a step easily overlooked and often misunderstood.” (Ivers19) “Proper substrate cleaning and preparation prior to decal application is critical to the success of the decal. Failure to adhere to these requirements can cause adhesion loss and therefore reduce the durability and performance level of the decal. All substrate surfaces should be considered contaminated and must be cleaned prior to pressure-sensitive material applications.” (Ivers19) “First, identify the contaminants and use cleaning solutions that dissolve those contaminants.” (Ivers21) “Detergent and water should remove aforementioned organic contaminants.” (Ivers21) ”Avoid products that contain oils, creams, lotions or waxes that could inhibit, rather than promote, adhesion.” (Ivers21) Detergents are recommended to clean the surface because they don’t create soap scum, which is difficult to remove. It is recommended by vinyl manufacturers that one ounce of synthetic detergent per gallon of lukewarm water. Avoid products that contain oils, creams, lotions or waxes that could inhibit, rather than promote adhesion.

Now that the vehicle has been cleaned you need to position the graphic onto the vehicle. Using magnets or tape will help hold the graphic into place to see where it needs to be moved. Magnets are easier than tape; magnets secure the graphic and allow you to move the graphic around until you find the right spot without taking the magnets off the vehicle.

29 April 2022
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