Make us your home page
Instagram

Vinyl car wraps let drivers create a signature style

Iconography Studios is seeing an increase in custom wraps designed for personal vehicles.

Orange County (Calif.) Register

Iconography Studios is seeing an increase in custom wraps designed for personal vehicles.

We've all seen them: The minivans advertising Aunt Flo's day care, the hatchbacks trumpeting maid services, notaries and plumbers. But there's a growing niche in the vehicle wrap business: Drivers who are customizing their cars with personalized graphics.

"Only 20 percent of the public has started to understand this is not paint. These are stickers," said James Naccarato, general manager of Iconography Studios in Los Alamitos, Calif. The vehicle wrap company has, in recent months, outfitted a Nissan Cube in wood-print vinyl to emulate a vintage woody wagon and a Mazda Miata with a Japanese anime design.

A decade ago, vinyl graphics were single-color cutouts mounted on a car door or window.

"Now the guy who owns a Maserati and a couple small businesses can dress up his personal car. He doesn't have to own 100 fleet vehicles to make it affordable," said Iconography president Sarah Naccarato.

Personal full-vehicle wraps cost between $3,000 and $4,000 and require two to five days to complete. Partial wraps, such as a custom graphic on a hood or side panel, typically cost less than $1,000.

"It's a relatively inexpensive, noninvasive process for an automobile mod. (Vinyl) allows people to really play around with what they have without devaluing their cars," Naccarato said.

While vinyl wraps have been around for almost a decade, what's new is an explosion of colors and textures. Vinyl comes preprinted in hundreds of colors and finishes that can be customized into personalized designs printed on enormous digital printers that are laminated in finishes ranging from matte to metallic and applied to the car's exterior. They stick with microscopic glue bubbles built into the vinyl's backing that, when removed, in most cases leave the car's paint intact and without damage.

Personal vehicle wraps are "a very quickly expanding area," said Dan Marx, vice president of markets and technologies for the 225 companies that make up the Professional Decal Application Alliance in Fairfax, Va. "I think we're on the edge of seeing a lot more of this in the consumer area," he said, especially as prices come down due to increased competition.

The growth in vinyl wraps is due in large part to the technological advances that have dramatically reduced the amount of space needed to make and apply a wrap. Still, the process can be complicated.

Matt Richart teaches semiannual Born to Wrap workshops in Irvine, Calif., to show aspiring wrappers how to use the large-format Roland printers that have become the industry standard. Richart is a former sign maker who switched his Louisville, Ky., business to vehicle wraps when he "noticed customers who put lettering on a work van were getting more business off their vehicles than the banners and signs."

While 85 percent of Richart's Digital EFX Wraps customers are commercial, 15 percent of his business is personal.

"The wrap industry is moving toward the retail side more and more each year" as the world becomes more custom, said Richart, who recently applied a racing stripe to a Maserati emblazoned with the owner's initials.

At Iconography, 97 percent of the business is commercial, according to the Naccaratos. Just 3 percent is personal, but it's the personal side of the business that's seeing the most interest and growth.

The Naccaratos have recently fielded calls from a woman requesting her Smart ForTwo be wrapped in argyle print, a man who thinks his Ford Mustang would look better dressed in anime, and another customer who had asked about mimicking Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine.

Vinyl car wraps let drivers create a signature style 05/16/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 12:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Government

    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  2. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  3. Gov. Scott backs off boycott of companies doing business in Venezuela

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will ask the Florida Cabinet next month to prohibit the state's investment managers from doing something they already do not do: invest in companies or securities owned or controlled by the Venezuelan government.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott interacts with people as he holds a Venezuelan Freedom Rally at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10 in Miami. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  4. Superior Uniform Group reports $65.6 million in sales for second quarter

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — Superior Uniform Group Inc. reported sales of $65.6 million in net sales for the second quarter, up a percentage point from the same quarter last year, the Seminole-based company reported Thursday.

    Superior Uniform Group Inc. saw a sales increase for the second quarter, the company reported Thursday. Pictured is Michael Benstock, CEO. | [Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Air bag inflator ruptures, driver killed in Pasco County

    Autos

    DETROIT — Automaker Honda says a driver from Pasco County died in a crash earlier this month that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator.

    Honda says a driver near Tampa has died in a crash that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator. 
[Associated Press]