By Jamie Siebrase | Jul 28, 2017
Fort Collins, Colorado
Vinyl art wraps
Fort Collins, Colorado
Industry: Built Environment
Products: Vinyl art wraps
A longtime art lover, Slater's personal collection was fortified with silkscreened concert posters, of all things. "What I really loved," Slater says, "was the idea of sharing the artwork I collected with others."
Slater set out to do just that when he began printing original pieces of licensed art onto vinyl wraps sourced from 3M. Technically, Public Art Collective is an LLC, but Slater thinks of his collective as a social impact organization -- one that does triple duty by supporting artists, simplifying the process of purchasing art for public places, and providing a solution to vandalism, too.
"We are the only organization in the world to partner with professional working artists to create public art exclusively with vinyl wrap," explains Slater. Vinyl what? "Say you're driving down the interstate, and you see the McDonald's sign with the giant cheeseburger. That's vinyl wrap," he clarifies. "It's like a giant, durable sticker, for lack of a better term."
While some cities like Denver have sophisticated public art programs with dedicated funding, others lag in both planning and finances. That's where Public Art Collective comes in.
Slater's company works with buyers on both ends of the spectrum, producing Public Art Wraps for city entities and community organizations looking to streamline the process of procuring public artwork. The model eliminates time-consuming activities such as publishing calls for entry, forming committees, and processing submissions.
Public Art Collective has upwards of 20 artists in its growing network, and thousands of pieces of original artwork for its customers to peruse. After a client selects a piece of art or presents their own original design, Public Art Collective prints the artwork onto 3M's vinyl wrap at its 1,200-square-foot facility.
The manufacturing process "is considered large-format printing," Slater says. He uses a HP Latex 330 printer and a Graphtec plotter, too, to cut the vinyl into templates. "Every project is a little bit different, shape and size-wise," Slater explains. "We have to create a template, format the art to fit it, and use the plotter to cut.
Public Art Collective prices its product by the square foot, and the installations have proven to be popular solutions for electrical and traffic control cabinets. "But we could go much larger," Slater says. "Public Art Wraps are designed for drywall, metal, brick, concrete, glass -- you name it. They have a wide range of uses, and murals can be billboard-sized."
After it is printed, Public Art Collective pieces get a second layer of laminate that's applied with a Royal Sovereign heat-assist laminator. "This is the part that's really cool," Slater says.
The laminate is anti-graffiti. Public Art Wraps prevent tagging by covering common targets for vandalism: blank spaces. "You could empty a can of spray paint onto one of our Public Art Wraps, let it bake in the sun, and it'll wipe off with a soft cloth and citrus cleaner," Slater says. In Fort Collins, city officials analyzed their mural program and determined that thirty transformer murals save $22,895 annually in graffiti removal expenses.
Public Art Collective currently markets its product to communities in Colorado, including Fort Collins, Denver, and Greeley. In fall 2017, though, the organization plans to expand into New Mexico, Arizona, and California. At the end of the day, Slater says, "We're trying to increase public art and brighten communities."
Challenges: "All I see is opportunities," Slater says. Well, okay, there's one challenge he's currently facing, and it's tangled up in marketing. "You can explain the beauty and benefits of Public Art Wraps until you're blue in the face, but it isn't until somebody walks up and sees one that they understand the benefit of this unique product," he says.
Opportunities: Slater is psyched about a new partnership with Community Funded, a Fort Collins-based crowdfunding platform that's waiving its fee for any entity interested in raising cash for a Public Art Wrap. Slater hopes this new partnership will help out those cities that want to acquire public art, but don't have the budget for it.
Needs: "We are looking to scale, to increase employees and increase manufacturing equipment," Slater says.