To encourage novices in surface design, Spoonflower has published “The Spoonflower Handbook: A DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper, and Gift Wrap.”
Not long ago, few artists ever had the chance to design fabrics and wallpaper because printing even a few yards required a significant financial investment. Today, thanks to digital, print-on-demand printing, anyone with a computer, Internet connection, and idea can upload a file and have their design printed on a yard of fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper.
Spoonflower, a North Carolina-based start-up, prints short runs of fabrics, peel-and-stick wallpapers, and wrapping-papers for hundreds of thousands of creative people worldwide. Spoonflower customers then incorporate their printed designs into thousands of creative projects for the home or wardrobe.
For example, the handbook shows you how to use digitally printed materials to make:
A world traveler pillowcase with map designs
A stuffed gnome toy
Pet silhouette hankies
Zippered fabric pouches
Autumn leaf table wrap
Typographic wrapping paper
Food for thought table runner
Photo panel wall art
Damask shower curtain
Family portraits necktie
Coloring wallpaper and desk wrap
Designs on peel-and-stick wallpaper can be used to personalize your laptop, tablet, phone, and other flat surfaces.
Written in easy-to-understand language, this beautifully illustrated, 207-page book covers everything from design equipment and software to working with photos, colors, scans, repeats, and vector files. It talks about sources of inspiration and explains how to source images and use them legally.
The book was written by Spoonflower co-founder Stephen Fraser with Judi Ketteler and Becka Rahn. Jenny Hallengren provided the photographs. It was published by the Steward, Tabori & Chang imprint of Abrams.
According to Fraser, the project ideas and information in the Spoonflower Handbook can help everyone from quilters and crafty parents to professional artists and aspiring fashion designers: “We set out to create the most approachable book possible…This book is about the joy of making something mingled with the challenge of learning new things.”
DESIGNERS. Digital printing has empowered you to bring new levels of customization to retail, office, and residential spaces. Two recently publicized projects might enable you to do even more.
DEEP: 3D Wallpaper from twenty2
In a partnership with students at Pratt Institute, the wallpaper-design firm twenty2 developed DEEP, a curated collection of 3D wallpapers. The wallpaper-design project was part of a graduate design seminar on interactive pattern and ornament created by Yale Architect and Pratt Institute professor Sarah Strauss.
As mentors to the program, Krya Hartnett and Robertson Hartnett of twenty2 encouraged students to push the design limits of pattern repeat and dimension. Some of the most innovative designs from the students have been brought to life and are printed in the twenty2’s Litchfield, Connecticut studio.
Smart Wallpaper Include Printed Electronics
According to a story posted on International Business Times, researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have developed printed electronics that can transform walls into digital devices that include miniature speakers, microphones, switches, and sensors.
With the electronics printed on your wallpaper, you can talk out loud to command your devices. The walls will then transmit your request or ask for further instructions.
Smart wallpaper could be helpful for elderly people who are living alone. People who fall and hurt themselves can ask the walls to contact the right people for help.
NTU Professor Joseph Chang told IBTimes UK that “Essentially we can print full, complex electronic circuits on any substrate, including paper, aluminum, and plastic film.”
Imagine what you could design with electronics on those types of materials. For example, residential windows could be overlaid with transparent film that includes circuits. Milk cartons could let you know when the milk is expired. Smart patches could monitor your heart rate or other vital signs.
What would you do with 3D wallpaper, smart wallpaper, or flexible materials printed with electronics?
See this aged print? It’s a scrap of Beatles wallpaper that I have framed in my home office. It brings back fond memories of my Beatle-maniac tween years when my Mom let me cover one whole wall of my bedroom with Beatles wallpaper. I don’t need to keep more than this scrap, because this cheesy graphic was repeated all over the wall.
Imagine how much cooler my Beatles wall could have looked if today’s digital printing technology and inkjet-printable wallcovering materials had been available in the ’60s.
Previous posts on this blog have discussed how designers and photographers are capitalizing on the potential to create custom wallcoverings and photo murals. Now, digital-printing leaders such as HP are making it easier for more print-service providers to produce custom wallcoverings.
HP’s goal is to enable everyone from small, local print-service providers to large wallcovering manufacturers to take advantage of the growing interest in customized décor. Growth-focused printing companies that once specialized in printing documents or photographs may soon be able to print custom wall décor for commercial, retail, and residential spaces.
At the Heimtextil 2014 show in Frankfurt, Germany, HP announced an expanded suite of digital printing solutions for wall decorations. The HP digital printing solution consists of a modular range of design software, media, HP Latex Printing Technology, finishing options, and industry certifications.
For HP’s booth, industrial and interior designer Markus Benesch set up a wall décor showroom.
“My goal is to encourage spectators to think outside the box and see the unusual ways in which digital printing can dramatically alter a space,” said Benesch. “HP digital printing technologies create a world in which designers no longer need to print large batches of wall décor at once. Instead, they can be fast as light—moving immediately from idea to design to production to delivery.”
“The wall decoration market is on the verge of major change enabled by the speed, quality, and versatility of HP Latex digital printing technology,” said Joan Perez Pericot, worldwide marketing director, Large Format Sign and Display Division.
At the show, HP demonstrated HP WallArt, a cloud-based web service that helps simplify the design, visualization and production of customized wallcoverings. Introduced at Heimtextil 2013, the HP WallArt service is already in use by more than 1100 customers in 66 countries.
Some of the new features include:
a new alliance with the global stock photography company Fotolia
integration with customers’ online storefronts for a customized and branded web-to-print solution that streamlines quotations, billing, and managed information systems
a free HP WallArt applications for iPad to provide real-time, interactive design and accurate previews of the finished wall layout
Users of the HP WallArt solution can showcase their wallcovering installations with the global design community on the HP for Designers Facebook page.
If you have designs and art that would look great on more walls, now is a good time to start thinking outside the frame.
Most people don’t get excited when they hear about wallpaper, and for good reason. For decades wallpaper has been associated with drab rooms, awful color, peeling walls, and designs that cause retina bleeding. However, the awful wallpapers of yesteryear don’t need to be featured in modern homes, businesses, or studios anymore. Digitally printed custom wallpaper can feature any design, photo, or theme that you’d like to see featured on a wall or other surface.
A Dynamic Change in the Home
While solid colors or repeating designs are still the norm when it comes to interior walls in the home, seeing murals or unique designs are becoming more common. I remember a middle-school friend who was a huge Washington State fan. His parents paid a painter to come in and paint a beautiful mural of a cougar on the wall above his bed. While this was a jealously-inducing addition to his 13 year old friends, there were limitations to the paint.
Time and Resources: Even just painting a room a solid color is a chore and a half. You have to tape, put plastic down, edge corners, strain to reach the high places, and dedicate a solid chunk of time to painting even the smallest room in the house. For a custom design or mural, you have to hire an artist who also has to do the above-mentioned tasks. Custom wallpaper can be applied much faster than a painted mural and fewer items are needed to install it.
Things Change: My friend has since moved out and his room is now holds barely used exercise equipment. Painting over the mural is easier said than done because you have to match the wall color which has since faded – so now the entire room or wall has to be painted. Repositionable wallpaper (remember the Fathead commercials?) is an easy solution to this. Simply peel off the design and move it somewhere else, store it, or replace it.
Artistic Limitations: Having a one-of-a-kind mural is cool, but it can be difficult to find someone who has the required skill and is willing to do the job within your budget. Printers don’t care how detailed or elaborate the piece is; the print quality will be top-notch. Homeowners can hire a graphic designer to create unique visuals for their walls, or submit photographs or artwork to the printing company, Most printing firms offer a choice of wallcovering materials for printing your design.
Custom Wallpaper in Businesses
It’s become much more common to see custom wallpaper in commercial establishments where businesses can use the custom printing to highlight products, services, or brand identity. Some of the most common establishments are restaurants, colleges, sports venues, and offices.
This is where a graphic designer can really get involved. As businesses look to brand themselves, or look to incorporate their brand into their wallpaper, top-notch graphic artists can step up and produce eye popping work. Check out these examples.
Rangers Lobby: The Texas Rangers wanted their lobby to capture the feeling and excitement of opening day so they made it appear like the back wall was a view from a stadium entrance. Notice how even the elevator doors have printing on them to keep the picture largely uninterrupted.
Eye-Catching Branding: Forever Yogurt kept their hot pink theme going without being overpowering along their back wall. They also proudly display their logo and company name which is artistically highlighted by the doodle like cityscape, which is a nice transition from the corrugated metal below. This is a great example of bold graphic design being used in tandem with custom wallpaper.
If You Want More…
I realize for the detail oriented I may have raised more questions than I’ve answered. You can find more information about the nitty-gritty details such as paper stock, photo resolution, and materials from this custom wallpaper FAQs page. Custom wallpaper can be applied to a host of different areas, not just walls, and you can get creative with its application and design more so than paint or stock wall paper.
Digitally printed, custom wallpaper is a rapidly growing trend in the decorating world, but until now it has been expensive and hard to find. With a new line of eco-friendly wallpaper and wall decals, the Spoonflower.com website has put personalized home decor within the reach of more designers, including crafters and do-it-yourself decorators.
With an eye toward environmentally conscious consumers and moms looking to decorate nurseries and kids’ rooms, Spoonflower wallpaper is printed on PVC-free paper using durable, eco-friendly inks. Unlike traditional wallpapers that can be devilishly difficult to take down, Spoonflower wallpaper is removable, making it suitable for renters and college students.
Individuals who don’t feel comfortable designing their own wallpaper can choose from thousands of designs by independent artists who have made their work available first on digitally printed fabric, and now as wallpaper.
The wallpaper sells for $5 per linear foot (24 by 12 inches), or $60 per roll (24 by 12 inches).
Spoonflower also offers three sizes of peel-and-stick wall decals: 5 by 5 inches, 15 by 15 inches, and 30 by 30 inches. These easy to reposition decals are printed using eco-friendly inks on a tough polyester material that’s perfect for any room in the house, as well as for decorating furniture, trays, refrigerators, laptops, and many other everyday items. The decals can be easily removed.
“Wallpaper is definitely on an upswing in the decorating world, especially in the US, where it used to be perceived as fussy and old-fashioned. We’re incredibly excited to introduce custom wallpaper and decals at prices that make them accessible to everyday people, using materials that will appeal to folks who rent as well as homeowners,” said Spoonflower co-founder Stephen Fraser. He says he hopes to persuade his wife to let him cover one of the bathrooms in their house with narwhals in the near future.
Lori Craffey of Little Rhody Design Company, a crafter from Rhode Island who sells on Etsy, was impressed by Spoonflower’s new products: “I just received my first wallpaper samples today! I love the quality and the packaging.” Craffey is one of thousands of indie artists on Spoonflower planning to make their designs available for sale to consumers as wallpaper.
Spoonflower has been in business since 2008, making it possible for individuals to create, print, and sell their own fabric designs. The site was founded by two Internet geeks who knew nothing about textiles, but had crafty wives.
Spoonflower’s community includes more than 600,000 individuals who use their own fabric to make curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners and more. Spoonflower’s marketplace offers the largest collection of independent fabric designers in the world.