color block

color block





CMYK: Printing Lingo Anchors “Off the Wall” Design


When we moved into our new HQ in Hanover Park, we knew we wanted to do something special with the wall outside our graphic design space. Something that showed, not only our creativity, but our knowledge of different media and what we can do with them. And yeah, frankly, to show off a little bit. Besides, blank walls make us twitchy. We just have to fill them in.

What’s CMYK, You Ask?

Vice President Alan Schellerer suggested a CMYK mosaic and Graphic Designer Johanna Ficner and Special Project Manager Scott Studt ran with the idea. People who speak “printing” know that CMYK is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. Umm, say what? Okay, a little background may be in order. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Black? Why isn’t it CMYB? Well the K actually stands for “Key.” The key color in today’s printing world is black but it has not always been. During the early days of printing, the colors used for Key have been brown, blue, or black – whichever was the cheapest ink to acquire at any given time. But the “K” stuck. End of Printing 101. Back to our wall.

An “In-House” Design

The next step was to look at materials. We looked at samples of both High Density Urethane (HDU) and wood. Scott has been working with wood for most of his life. He thought pine and plywood would be the perfect mediums because of the detail they bring out.

Johanna arranged the letters to highlight the “CMYK” and added in “ER2” at the top. “My favorite part of the piece is how each letter really stands out at you”, she said. The other letters were placed randomly and at different orientations for additional visual appeal.

In another nod to our printing roots, the letters were made to mimic the block letters used in the first printing presses. At the time, each letter was hand set one at a time to spell out the words on a page. Thankfully, printing evolved quickly and the process goes a lot faster today. But it still creates a great look which was perfect for this project.

The Build

The project was first laid out in our Graphic Design Department to get the sizes of each individual wooden block and letter. The wood was then router cut with our CNC MultiCam router. “We wanted to create a weathered and distressed finish so we used multiple techniques to get different finishes,” Scott said. “After the paint dried, we marred the paint with chains, screwdrivers, picks, rocks and some pent-up frustration.”

A Joint Effort

It took 6 weeks to piece everything together with everyone pitching in every night after work. It was a real labor of love by our team…and a lot of fun. “It’s really satisfying to see this project come together and fill the wall,” Johanna said. “This focal point really shows our attention to detail and craftsmanship.” If you have a space that needs “something,” but you’re not sure what, contact us and let our creative team turn loose their imaginations and add the “wow” factor to your project.

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