Magazine Article


Cutting-Edge Output

In 1985, Rick Farrell, president of Imaging Professionals Group had what most of the industry felt was a crazy idea—that a piece of film could be scanned, digitally retouched and output to film again. Turns out the idea wasn't so crazy after all, and IPG went on to become the first commercial photo lab in the country to start retouching images digitally.

IPG created this giant window mural for the GAP in the United Kingdom. Below are more examples of their output prowess.

Rick Farrell, president of Imaging Professionals Group.

That wasn't the only "first" for IPG: The company also owned one of the first RGB scanners ever produced and purchased the first LVT film recorder. Custom software was written to digitally manipulate and composite image files.

The man behind this pioneering imaging company can attribute his comfort with technology to his background as a medical researcher and professor (he has a Ph.D. in medical physiology and has earned over 40 patents for his innovative projects). "I started IPG in my garage in 1980 because I couldn't find high-end photo lab work efficient enough to support my research, so I began doing the work myself," he explains.

From those humble beginnings, IPG has grown to be one of the largest state-of-the-art, digitally integrated custom imaging facilities in the nation, specializing in digital wide-format printing and POP signage for large retail companies and commercial display houses. "We've also expanded into printed tile art, banner stands, lenticular images, giclee printing, floor and vehicle graphics, and many other areas," Farrell reveals.

In 1985, Farrell started EXPOTRANS Visual Display Systems to manufacture lightboxes, menu boards and custom displays, and in 2003 he developed a third company, Imaging Products Group. By combining the manufacturing excellence of IPG and EXPOTRANS with expert in-house technical engineering, Imaging Products Group is able to offer one-source solutions for all aspects of graphic presentations.

Up Against a Wall
Digital wall coverings and giant murals are an expanding area of expertise for IPG. IPG recently teamed up Jeff DiToro of DiToro Design in Del Mar, CA, who combines his design talents with photography and digital printmaking to create innovative custom wall murals. "The technology that DiToro uses is affordable, durable and more accurate than hand-painted murals," Farrell explains. "Interior designers or home-decorating enthusiasts can choose their desired image from DiToro Design's image library of photographs he's taken worldwide or provide a photograph of their choice." DiToro then works from a scaled color proof of the chosen image. When the design is approved, the final large-scale printing takes place at IPG. Interior mural wallpaper, canvas or self-adhesive vinyl is used to create extremely durable commercial custom wall covering. "The installation process used is identical to normal decor wallpaper," Farrell says. "The stunning and eye-catching custom wall coverings are ideal for residential homes, commercial facilities and hospitality interiors."

IPG has also joined with Plain Joe Studios in Corona, CA, to develop beautiful digital wall murals for Provision Ministry Group, a family of three ministries serving Christian churches and Churches of Christ in North America. Plain Joe's expertise and services encompass strategic planning, design and development of physical and "virtual" media. "IPG printed the bright giant murals for all walls and offices in the 21,000-square-foot Provision Ministry Group building," Farrell says. "A spectacular ceiling mural was designed to make the hallway look like a subway." The colorful murals designed by Plain Joe Studios took several days to print and three days to install. One innovative mural featured a wall-sized map printed on self-adhesive vinyl that stretched into a perforated continuing image on glass and then moved to a frosted vinyl image on a glass wall.

Because of his background in research, Farrell constantly scans available technology to make sure that IPG stays on the leading edge of technology and manufacturing. "Our VUTEk PressVu and ultra-wide solvent and UV printers are used to produce brilliant and eye-catching giant wall murals for our clients," he says. "The PressVu handles sheet or continuous-feed substrates up to six feet (72 inches) wide and up to any length, prints up to eight colors for smoother gradient images, and prints at a true 600-dpi resolution for brilliant, dynamic graphics."

Two other important benefits of the PressVu printer: It can print on almost anything (including wood, corrugated cardboard, styrene and metal), and it dramatically lowers the cost of large-format printing since it eliminates the need for mounting and over-laminating. The ultra-wide solvent and UV printer can produce images up to 16 feet wide in one piece, with a maximum length of 100 feet, and the images can be paneled for mammoth displays.

High-Profile Projects
In August 2004, Gap signed Sarah Jessica Parker and Lenny Kravitz as the faces of its new advertising campaign. "We produced window graphics for Gap flagship stores in Oxford, United Kingdom, and for the main Gap store on Powell and Market streets in San Francisco," says Farrell. "The Oxford store window display used two Digital C Prints made using IPG's Durst Lambda 130 printer. Each window graphic measured 11 x 22 feet and fit over two windows." The window displays for the San Francisco flagship store were completed the night before the MTV Video Music Awards in August, where the new Gap ad campaign was presented for the first time.

When the PressVu printer is teamed with IPG's digital die cutter, IPG is able to print on and contour cut any shape from most substrates. In August, IPG collaborated with Bay Cities Container Corporation in Pico Rivera, CA, a leading designer and direct manufacturer of corrugated packaging products, to produce an eye-catching display for the movie Hair Show, a film produced by Magic Johnson that had its big-screen debut in October. The large, colorful display was constructed of die-cut 200-pound corrugated cardboard, was printed using the PressVu and was digitally die-cut.

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