Vinyl Graphics for Windows

Recently we have done several major window vinyl installations, including multiple branches for a local bank, a real estate office, and several other local businesses. As with any kind of marketing graphics, window graphic installations present many opportunities, options, and unique challenges. This is the first blog in a series discussing these specific issues.

Types of Vinyl

There are 4 types of vinyl that most window installation use:

Cut Vinyl – primarily used for simple lettering, such as business hours, phone number, the address number, or other business information. Also frequently used to list services offered by the business. Cut vinyl graphics are fairly inexpensive, but can have significant impact on the professionalism and advertising presence of the business.

Translucent White Vinyl – Similar to a sign, banner, or wall mural, a window graphic using translucent white vinyl allows a business to use more artistic elements in advertising their business. Multiple colors, pictures, and eye catching designs can grab the attentions of people passing by, serving to increase your business presence and attractiveness. This kind of vinyl will block a person’s ability to see in or out of the business, so these can also provide privacy and partial shade to those inside the office, restaurant, or other kind of establishment. If you prefer to keep the view more open, these can also be contour cut to the desired shape, much like cut vinyl graphics.

Static Cling – rather infrequently used, because it is easily removed & less permanent. It has the same properties as translucent white vinyl, but has no adhesive – it sticks to the glass by static attraction to the glass. Easy to apply, easy to remove, and not very secure.

Perforated Window Vinyl – this fantastic product has many of the benefits of translucent white vinyl, with a few additional advantages. Specifically, perforated window vinyl doesn’t block the view of those inside the glass. This allows those inside greater security, a more open feeling, and natural light.

We’ve only scratched the surface in presenting these vinyl graphic options. If you have specific questions about your window graphic project, or to find out what something like this might cost, please contact us at 816-459-7552 or email More information will also be available in the blogs to follow.


Perfecting Your Printed Pictures

“A picture is worth 1000 words”—that is why we use pictures whenever we can to describe our business. Pictures enhance the words we use to name our business. Pictures catch the eye so that potential customers will give us a second look. We want your prints to look sharp, not blurry. That is why we ask for high quality pictures, like this artwork used on a banner to promote the Fun Farm corn maze in Kearney:Corn Maze Banner

By now most of us are familiar with “pixels” (the many tiny dots of color that make up a picture) and “pixilation” (when a picture looks grainy or blurry).  A high quality image has a high-density of pixels per square inch.  We call that dpi, or dots per inch.  The size of the file—how many megabytes the picture file is—is a good indicator of the quality of the picture; the larger the file size = the more dpi = the better the quality.  As you can see, a picture will pixilate more and more the closer you zoom in, or the larger you make it:

Raster vs Vector (web)

When we create or edit a photo for print, we save the JPG at a minimum of 300 dpi. When you take a photo, put your settings at the highest quality for maximum use. The higher the quality the better the picture will look when it is printed.

We can use lower quality pictures for some printing, such as business cards or small post cards, because the printed size is very small. Where the quality of the file really makes a difference is in printing signs, banners and posters.

Typically lower quality pictures are found when searching the internet. Always pay attention to the file size when you download a picture from an internet search. If you are purchasing artwork from a website, be sure to check the size of the file; often the larger the file the more you will pay, but if you need a large print it will be worth the price.

When a picture is sent by text, the texting program automatically reduces the dpi. If you want to print a picture taken by your phone camera, you will need to send the file by email.

Pictures downloaded from Facebook are often lower quality, and can only be used when printing small pieces.

For more tips on how to get a nice photo for print, just give us a call! 816-459-7552

-Linda & Peter

Where Did Linda Go?

This month’s Blog is from Linda!

As some of you may have noticed, I (Linda) am not always in the store these days to help with your printing. Recently my husband Owen took a job in Gainesville, Texas. This means that I must also move to Gainesville.
Because I have built many relationships with you, our customers, over the past two and a half years we have been in business, this has not been an easy move. However, thanks to modern technology, and with the help of Doug Clark, owner of IT Central, I can still oversee a large part of what happens in the store. I am able to remotely access all of our computers, work on design, set-up for printing, and pretty much do everything except put the paper in the printers.
Linda Move Blog Pic
So even though I will not always be in the store, I am staying involved in the day to day business. I am also splitting my time between Missouri and Texas, so don’t be surprised if I am there when you come in!
Our story started five years ago, when we moved to Kansas City. We bought a home north of the city, planning to create a place to live in and to retire to. We deepened our roots by planting trees on the property, and starting a business in Kansas City. My son Peter and I worked the regular hours in the store, and my husband Owen worked his regular job during the day and helped out at the store after work.
When Owen decided to take the job in Gainesville, Texas, we realized that I would not be able to work in the store as before. Well, we are a family owned business, and fortunately we have a number of children. So we asked our son Dennis, who was living in Florida, to move up to Kansas City with his family to help us in the store.
Many of you have met Dennis. He and Peter, along with Caleb, will be at the store to help you with all your printing needs. I look forward to seeing you when I am in Kansas City.
Oh, and in case you were wondering–we haven’t sold the home. In fact, Dennis & his family live there and maintain the house and acreage.  We plan to retire back to Kansas City when the time is right.
–Linda Decker

Why Buy Embroidered Shirts

A Trusted Employee Wearing the Brand

A Trusted Employee Wearing the Brand

Yesterday, a woman walked into our store determined to buy the essential items to set herself up in business. First, she bought 100 business cards, a necessary item, but the barest minimum quantity. Her second purchase was two small magnetic signs for her car. Again, fairly typical of a hopeful entrepreneur with more determination than money. Her third purchase, however, surprised me. Ten polo shirts with her business name embroidered above the pocket.

Considering the modesty of her other purchases, the embroidery seemed like an extravagance. Then I learned that she would be sending her employees into customer’s homes, and it made perfect sense. A guy wearing a uniform shirt that carries the embroidered monogram of his employer doesn’t feel like a stranger. Even if he has a scary beard, or seems young, or foreign, he feels like a trustworthy, reliable employee.

Embroidery signals quality and reassures customers that your employee is trustworthy and reliable. T shirts or other garments that are printed with your company logo or other identifying slogans can have the same reassuring effect. In addition, they contribute to the professional behavior of your employees.

Owen Decker

How Dye Sublimation Printing Works

Screen Printing

One upon a time, the only reasonable way to added a design to a t shirt was screen printing.  Screen printing is what it sounds like, a process of applying a design to fabric using a screen.  Part of the holes of the screen are filled or blocked, and the printing ink goes through those that are open.  By this process, you can only print one color at a time.  Each different color on a design requires a separate screen.  The cost of making these screens is high enough that it only pays to buy printed garments in batches of at least six per color printed.  One color – 6.  Two colors – 12.  Etc.

Direct to Garment Printing

A newer process is direct-to-garment printing.  Once again, this process is what it sounds like.  A garment is placed in a printer, and ink is applied directly from an ink-jet type print head.  We’ll talk about direct to garment printing another time, but it has the limitation that it works best to apply designs to flat pieces of cotton, and requires a costly printer.  Designs of many colors can be printed.  Single garments can be economically printed.

Dye Sublimation Printing

Enter dye-sublimation printing, or transfer printing.  This  technique can be used to apply designs to polyester fabric, and to a wide range of substrates which have been treated with a dye-absorbing polymer.  The key to dye-sublimation printing is a special paper treated with a surface on which an ink can be printed, but which doesn’t absorb ink.  Regular paper is porous, and absorbs inks.  The surface of transfer paper is easy to print on, but doesn’t absorb ink.  Instead, the ink dries on the surface.  Later, the ink can be transferred by heat and pressure (or heat and vacuum) to a polymer surface, such as polyester fabric, that absorbs the ink.

Like direct to garment printing, dye sublimation printing can be used to print multicolor designs economically on as little as one garment.  It can also be used to transfer designs to hats, coffee cups, ceramic tile, etc.  Since the ink dissolves deeply into the polymer, the design is wash-proof, and durable.  All that is required is a printed paper, a polyester fabric or polymer-treated surface, and a gizmo to press the paper against the surface and heat it for ten seconds or so.

See the sublimationprocess

How Perforated Window Vinyl Works

Perforated window vinyl, or “see-through” vinyl is used to make signs that are solid, bright, and opaque when viewed from the outside, but are transparent from the inside.  When I hear about something like this, I have to know how it works to believe it.  So–how does it work?

Perforated vinyl is exactly what the name says, a sheet of vinyl material with a pattern of tiny holes cut through it. There are so many of these holes that a significant amount of the material is removed. The amount of vinyl removed usually ranges from 30 to 50%.  For example, 60/40 vinyl, is 60% vinyl and 40% holes.

Light-colored perforated vinyl signs are opaque when seen from outside a window because our eyes naturally focus on a bright, well-lit surface rather than on the holes and the relative darkness of whatever is behind the surface.  The inner side of perforated vinyl, however, is dark colored.  Here the eye naturally focuses through the dark vinyl to the light and motion outside the window.  Because of this, people inside a store, home or automobile see through the back of the sign to the world outside.

Designing for Perforated Signs

A good understanding of how perforated vinyl works will help you design better one-way vinyl signs.  Because the printed surface of the perforated vinyl must be brighter than the space behind the sign, it is best to avoid large areas of black, blue, purple or dark brown in the design. Lettering and small areas of a design can be dark, but use light or bright colors–whites,  pastels, red, yellow, orange, light blues and greens– for the large areas of your design.

As you design, remember also that a large fraction of the sign surface is missing. Avoid intricate detail and small fonts. Design instead with broad brush-strokes and fonts of 30-point or larger.

Like filmy curtains, perforated vinyl signs are opaque when seen from the outside during daylight, but transparent from the inside.  Like filmy curtains, however, these sign becomes transparent at night when viewed from the outside into a lighted space.  When you plan to use the perforated vinyl inside, pay attention to the lighting on both sides of the sign.

One-way vinyl signs offer a lot of intriguing advantages.  Next time you’re thinking about a sign for your car, store or home, make it big, make it bright, and perforate it.

Owen Decker