Design company T’Go Creative has moved into large-format print, and has launched a customised wallpaper service. Could you learn a thing or two from its approach to new markets?
Plenty of large-format PSPs are adding design services to their offering, but what of designers adding in-house large-format print capability to their services portfolio? Husband and wife team Gary and Elizabeth Paterson have done just that at T’Go Creative, the creative agency they own and operate in Perthshire, Scotland. On the back of that investment they have not only launched customised wallpaper business www.wallstgo.co.uk, but taken the service a step or two further by partnering with a local painter and decorator, Crighton and Son, to offer the full ‘from photo to wall’ service. Plus, wallstgo.co.uk allows artists and photographers to upload their images and make them available for canvas prints or wallpapers for a commission. Neat!
Gary Paterson, who started the business in 2007 as a sole trader working alone from a converted single garage to fill the gap in the market for a local freelance graphic designer, describes T’Go Creative as a “design-led full service agency which operates closely with a network of litho and large-format printers to ensure a solid reputation for high quality design and print is maintained.” But it was when that quality started letting him down that T’Go Creative got really innovative.
Paterson explains: “Over the last two years, with our children starting nursery and school, my wife and I decided it was time to start growing the business - through investment in employees, premises and equipment. Liz became operations director this past summer, her role being to ensure the demands of clients are met efficiently as the business grows. She is also responsible in ensuring work is produced on time to the high quality expected by the growing list of clients.
“It has always been the quality of work (along with the free coffee) that has kept clients returning to the T’Go Creative team. We have worked with a few signage and large-format printers over the years but we had started getting some varied results in quality and we were losing control of quality through trusting other parties to output work correctly and at the right profiles. When jobs for the same companies were coming out with different colours we realised we needed to invest in large-format print kit.”
The upshot was that in the summer T’Go Creative bought a Roland TrueVis VG-640, meaning the company now operates two large-format printers - and an SRA3 Xerox printer - with all of the team being trained on each machine.
“Until a few months ago we were running the same IPF8100 printer bought in 2008. It was a workhorse and had no issues. However, it became clear we were limited in what we could do with it. We needed to upgrade and the new plans for growing the business included higher quality and scratch resistant prints and vinyl outputs so a new printer was a major requirement,” says Paterson.
“The new printer was a huge investment for the business which had only just moved to a much larger premises and employed two further staff members. However, our concerns have been proven unfounded as the capabilities of the machine are incredible and already turning a profit.
“We still create all the high quality design and artwork we always did, but now we can produce the printed posters, roller banners, banners and signage within the same day, in-house. This fast turnaround has already won us a handful of large clients, all who have since returned for more design and print. One of our latest clients required four 4m x 1.5m banners designed and printed within the same day for a high profile event – we did it and he was so impressed that we are now his new design and print company and we are producing work weekly for them.”
It was while doing some research that Paterson recognised an untapped market locally for something completely different. Wallpaper print was something he had previously explored with the large-format pigment ink printer but part of the reason for the purchase of the new VG-640 was to break into the home décor market. After investigating the market potential, and the available materials, www.wallstgo.co.uk was born, a venture Paterson is convinced “will be huge”.
“While I was doing some market research I realised that 90% of our work is business to business. So I started thinking of products that we could develop on a more personal basis, and that had mass market appeal - canvas prints and wallpaper are both innovative and exciting products that I felt we could handle for the continually growing home décor market.”
Finding the right wallpaper media was of major importance for Paterson, who says everybody he had discussed the venture with had presumed that the finished product would be a standard shiny vinyl. “This would not suit the home décor or commercial decoration market. The arrival of the swatch booklets and sample outputs completely changed every single person’s view on the product. You could practically hear the cogs turning in client’s heads when they saw and touched the samples,” he says. “The range of smooth, sandstone and plaster effects, plus many more, coupled with the vibrant prints from the new machine produce an effect that instantly transform the appearance of a room, without a high cost.”
The standard handling and paste-to-wall benefits of the selected paper stock also allows for a very clean install into homes and offices, and was chosen so that it could be installed very easily by any DIY enthusiast - or decorator. And that’s where the partnership with local painter and decorator, Crighton and Son, comes into play - the two in tandem providing a ‘from photo to wall’ service.
As you might expect, Wallstgo.co.uk can turn personal photos, stock-art or patterns into bespoke wallpapers or wall murals, printed to practically any size. Customer can provide images of existing decorative items in their room and the design team can create use their expertise to produce a one-off wallpaper to suit. But what’s more, it also allows artists and photographers to upload their images and make them available for canvas prints or wallpapers for a commission.
“As designers we understand need for being ‘unique’ and www.wallstgo.co.uk offers a way to truly be adventurous with room decoration - it offers an unlimited amount of possibilities all at an affordable price,” enthuses Paterson.
“It’s an exciting time for the T’Go Creative team. Lots of fun is being had in designing and printing the usual items but now also diversifying into different markets, and continually learning new skills and problem solving keeps the whole team on their toes.”
He points out that T’Go Creative has also just started in-house production of T-Shirts, hoodies and printed garments, but he says: “We don’t want to lose track of who we are - a design company - but the addition of this large-format digital inkjet print equipment into our studio has increased productivity dramatically while also allowing the team to explore many creative ideas.”