Local Business

Scenic art comes alive on customers' walls

Photographer Robin F. Pendergrast stands next to one his photos that was made into wallpaper at Crystal Lake Dental Arts in Crystal Lake Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
Photographer Robin F. Pendergrast stands next to one his photos that was made into wallpaper at Crystal Lake Dental Arts in Crystal Lake Tuesday, October 16, 2012.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Two visual arts companies in McHenry County are using their long-standing business relationship to transform wallpapering through cutting-edge technology and eye-catching photos.

Robin Pendergrast has recently decided to take his professional expertise from RFP Photography in Crystal Lake and apply it to the new wallpaper venture with VCP Printing in Algonquin. The two businesses have been working to produce photography for more than 35 years.

Now, the two are taking that production to the walls of businesses and schools, and the two companies hope its custom wallpaper product will soon gain regional attention.

“It’s fully customizable. That’s the beauty of the whole thing,” said Mark Vogt, VCP Printing director of prepress and printing solutions. “You pretty much can put anything on your wall that you want. You can let your mind go crazy.”

The new approach allows businesses and even homeowners to take custom images, magnify them and plaster them on any wall. The customization involves Pendergrast’s own photography and Vogt’s ability to digitally magnify the photo to fit any wall.

McHenry County College already has used the product to cover a 9-by-18-foot wall in a planning room with a giant, aerial photo of the college.

The Crystal Lake Dental Arts also has redecorated its treatment rooms by covering entire walls with giant, clear photos of Lake Tahoe, Nev., and the Butchart Gardens in Vancouver, so that patients can feel more at ease in the dentist chair.

“It’s created almost an atmosphere of what the (Dental Arts) is trying to do there,” Pendergrast said. “You don’t need to fill up on Valium on Xanax … We’re bringing these images into an environment where people are apprehensive, and it seemed to have helped.”

The idea to create customizable wallpaper came from Vogt, who said he started using new technology for his wide and super-wide printing formats. He then approached Pendergrast about the idea, thinking Pendergrast would be able to capture precise images that could custom fit walls.

Using a high-definition Canon camera, Pendergrast can capture clear images that don’t become grainy or pixilated when magnified. Vogt then crops the photo and prints it for installation.

His team of installers then soaks the image in water, applies it and a few hours later the wallpaper is up for decoration, Vogt said. The process is unlike traditional wallpaper that comes in smaller reams, requires more adhesive and more measurements.

The wallpaper also has green environmental certifications and only requires hot water to take down.

“With traditional wallpaper, you have to size the wall and apply the adhesive,” Vogt said. “None of that is required here. You just soak it all in warm water, squeegee it out and you’re done.”

So far, the two companies have done three installations, starting with the Dental Arts design nearly a year ago. Both Pendergrast and Vogt are now working to take the product to Chicago’s Navy Pier.

The two are currently designing a window display for Oh Yes, a novelty store located within one of the Windy City’s busiest tourist attractions. The display involves Pendergrast’s aerial shot of Chicago with the Trump Tower and the Hancock building included in it.

“The Oh Yes project is going to be very demonstrative, and it’s going to be cool to have that kind of exposure,” Pendergrast said.

Stephen Di Benedetto
Northwest Herald Reporter
Office: (815) 526-4582
Cell: (847) 902-7040
Fax: (815) 459-5640

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