The sign and graphics industry is now more accessible than it’s ever been. With a little investment, a workshop and a design software package, almost anyone can become a graphics specialist overnight. However, even with the resources readily available to the new starter, there’s one thing they can’t buy in a shop – experience.
Mark Chamberlain of Essex-based graphics company, Funkeefish, has over 30 years’ experience in vehicle graphic design and he started out without the convenience of today’s printer/cutters. Along with his long-term friend Jon Dawson, Mark learned his craft by designing and cutting graphics by hand, but that’s just one of his many talents.
In pursuit of creative freedom Mark departed from his role as director in another business, and ten years ago Funkeefish was born. To make this dream come to life, Mark needed solutions that wouldn’t restrict his ambitions.
“I bought a VersaCAMM SP-540i from printMAX when I started out and it really let me push the boundaries, which is really what Funkeefish is all about.”
The SP-540i soon had a chance to prove its worth in the early days of Funkeefish. Mark secured a contract to wrap 100 vans for a UK firm, but when that order changed to 1000 vans in the space of a few weeks, Mark got the chance to test the limits of the SP-540i.
“I’m not really from a technical background, so I had to figure out how to get the most from the machine on the job. The printer was running literally 24 hours a day and it just took everything I threw at it. I loved that machine – it was an absolute soldier – I wish I’d never got rid of it.”
But because of Funkeefish’s growing success, they needed something faster, more advanced, with a greater colour gamut. It was then that Mark, somewhat reluctantly, returned to printMAX and traded in the faithful workhorse for a brand new SOLJET Pro 4 XR-640, four years ago. When Mark saw the quality of the print, he knew he’d made the right choice.
“The SP-540i never let me down, so my next printer had to be a Roland. The SOLJET is absolutely brilliant. It’s a lot faster, the colours are richer, and the blacks are outstanding. We do a lot of carbon fibre at Funkeefish and the blacks need to be perfect.”
“We designed the wrap for a Porsche 911 for Avery Dennison’s stand at FESPA last year and people couldn’t believe that the green came off a printer – they all thought it was aerosol paint!”
Three years ago, Jon joined Funkeefish to help strengthen the design side of the business, which is now clearly apparent in their latest work. His flair and skill are second to none and nowhere can this artistic talent be seen better than at Avery Dennison’s training facility in Milton Keynes.
“The wrap on Avery's walls in the foyer shows a very ordinary London scene, but as you climb the stairs towards the classroom on the upper level, you turn a corner and notice some very odd-looking aircraft, then... POW!!! You are confronted with a barrage of spaceships, space-men, exploding stars and moons, enticing you up the stairs into the exciting world of colour and possibilities, the core of the Avery Dennison brand.” – From funkeefish.com
This masterclass in imagination demonstrates Funkeefish’s skills in interior design as well as in vehicle wraps.
When we asked Mark about his most memorable job, he didn’t even need to think about it. “The wrap we submitted to Avery Dennison’s Wrap Like a King 2018 competition was six months in the making and we really went above and beyond to create it.”
The Datsun 350Z, entitled ‘Barnfind 66’, gave Funkeefish the chance to demonstrate the full gamut of their skills. Besides printing the wrap on the XR-640, Funkeefish used several types of wrapping film to achieve the effect they were looking for. To give it that rustic, dilapidated-car-found-in-a-barn look (hence the name), they incorporated dirt effects in the vinyl design and also distressed the vinyl in places using sandpaper and thinners.
In reward for their efforts, Barnfind 66 was awarded the 2018 Europe Continental Winner accolade, being pipped at the post by the North America entry for the Global award.
At Roland, we love to see the things our users create with their equipment and Funkeefish is an outstanding example. They don’t simply print vinyl and stick it to things – they use their ingenuity and skill to create truly imaginative projects and they constantly stretch the limits of what’s possible.