What is a Substrate?

Karen Griffin - Thursday, June 21, 2018

It is really hard not to fall into our own jargon - seriously, I think we all do it without meaning too.  Don't you just hate your daughter's fb post that refers to 'imho'? Over the next few blogs, I am going to try to explain the different products we use.

A substrate is a base - something we apply the vinyl to.  Some customers supply their own. Maybe it is piece of wood they have longing polished and finished, such as this lovely boat sign.  We have applied the vinyl on top of it and it looks just great. Sometimes old and new weld together perfectly. By using a marine grade vinyl, this will last as long as the varnish on the wood, yet the vinyl is soft enough to show some of the grain through it.  Absolutely gorgeous. We get the best projects!

Wooden boat sign

Or you may have an existing A board that you can put your vinyl lettering on yourself.

Or you might be applying it to windows.

Either way, it is important we know how you are going to use your vinyl lettering so we are sure to choose the right vinyl for you.

So keep an eye on the blog over the next couple of weeks and I will explain your 'bought in' options.

The most annoying message of all

Karen Griffin - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Nephew art as it is known in the trade!  Golly how we hate it!!

And we know full well how annoying it is for customers to receive an email from us saying their artwork is not good enough for us to print from. Often it is the only artwork they have.  This is often not their fault.  In times gone by, many graphic designers didn't supply their customers with a whole suite of files with their logo on.  I guess it was in the hope that they were the ones to make the headed paper etc and therefore bump up their fee.  But now you can get good deals on paper print anywhere.  Customers need their logo for social media and website use.  

Even worse, big organisations have often lost all versions of their original artwork.  

So, here we try to explain some of the terms:

  • your logo should be saved in as many places as possible.  On disc, on the cloud, on a memory stick and on your hard drive.
  • you should have it in RGB - which is used for website uses
  • you should have it in CMYK - which is for print.  Confuse these two and your printed documents will return to you in a very different colour than you are expecting
  • you should also have a high resolution jpg - for general use
  • and preferably a pdf
  • and you will almost certainly have a vectorised file.  It might end in .eps and .ai.  You almost certainly won't be able to open it. DO NOT DELETE THIS FILE.  It is your master one.  A vectorised file allows large format printers like ourselves to produce good quality reproductions of your logo to any size.
If you only have one version of your artwork, go back to your designer NOW and ask for all of the above.  Even if there is an extra charge, it will be worth it for the future.

You will never need to have a pixelated or blocky image again.
pixelated image of logo


Vinyl cut or printed vinyl

Karen Griffin - Thursday, May 24, 2018

So the last two blogs have explained the main differences between vinyl cut and printed vinyl.

But how do you choose?  This is a question asked to us so many times, and in response we ask more questions.

  • Are you using your vinyl outside? If so, think about uv fade. Block cut vinyl is the best option if the design allows.  If not, make sure your printed vinyl is uv laminated and uv protective inks are used
  • How long are you wanting your vinyl to last? Cheaper, one year vinyls might be a realistic option
  • What surface (or substrate as it is sometimes referred to) are you using the vinyl on? Very important if you are buying mail order.  Generally, block cut vinyls are thinner and can take the surface of the item they are applied to.  However, the newer printed vinyls are getting more fabulous and thinner
  • Do you have specific colour requirements as part of a branding document?  If so, it is printed all the way!
  • Are you using very small writing? Printed is probably the most economical solution
  • Are you planning on removing it quickly, perhaps after an exhibition?  Again, printed is one piece so quicker to remove
  • Which is the cheapest? There is no easy answer to this as the wrong vinyl in the wrong situation might mean you have to replace it so it will be very expensive in the long run. Probably best to concentrate on planned use and not be totally hung up on cost
Choosing a good vinyl house to buy from is essential.  You cannot rely on fancy websites.  Ask questions, be informed and if possible use a supplier recommended by people you know and trust.

Always happy to give advice if you want to email: karen@griffindesigns.co.uk

Printed vinyl

Karen Griffin - Friday, May 18, 2018

Printed vinyl is an absolute godsend to vinyl houses.  It negates having to have rolls and rolls of money invested in rolls and rolls of different coloured vinyls!

But it has created a new problem. That of the lazy company who only stocks one type of vinyl. Despite the fact you can print the vinyl with any colour, there are still different types of vinyl around. Different weights = different qualities. Vinyl with grey reverse to create a black out and perfect covering. Matt or gloss. Air-release for large graphics. Clear or white.

It does require much more expensive machinery, that needs to be professionally serviced and can be expensive to repair.

And ink is not cheap either - especially that with built in uv resistence.

So the advantages of printed vinyl:

  • it can be matched to absolutely any pantone or brand colour
  • it produces full colour images in very short time
  • it can print extremely small graphics
  • print still means the design can be cut out on print/cut machines
  • less space is needed for the vinyl house because they can use fewer types of vinyl to print any colour on
  • it is less labour intensive
But there are always disadvantages:
  • even for a specialist, it is hard to tell what quality of vinyl has been used when it is printed
  • the ink is only on the top of the vinyl so is likely to fade quicker or be scratched. However lamination can reduce both of these problems, but that needs another process adding to the cost
  • reduced labour costs are balanced by ink prices
  • if the machine breaks down, it needs a specialist to fix it
So the disadvantages are mainly to the vinyl house, not to the end user.

Here is our lovely cutting machine, aka The Beast!  It is actually a Roland VS300i - and very temperamental it is too, even though it has its own lovely room to work in!


the beast vinyl print cut machine

What is block cut vinyl?

Karen Griffin - Monday, May 14, 2018

Sometimes known as cad cut vinyl too.  This is where we take a piece of vinyl that is coloured all the way through is cut into shapes or lettering.  We 'weed' away the vinyl not needed leaving the letters or shapes behind.

There are lots of advantages to block cut vinyl:

  • The vinyl is coloured all the way through so it is resistent to uv fade and pollution damage
  • it is really hard wearing and, in the marine grade version of it, resistant to shrinking as well
  • it is very economic
  • there are lots of different weights and types of vinyls, meaning that many can be for specialist use
  • it can be removed from most surfaces with gentle heat
  • it means we can make banners re-usable!
  • the vinyl cutting machines are fairly basic, easy to repair and service yourself, and last forever!!
But there is always a negative:
  • it can be fiddly for small letters, so most machines don't cut below a 10mm capital letter height
  • it has a lot of design limitations, especially against 21st century expectations
  • it cannot be full colour, and to do drop shadow etc is expensive in comparison to print as it uses two lengths of different coloured vinyl
  • a proper vinyl house will have rolls and rolls of vinyl - not just for the colour choice, but also because different weights have different uses.  One size does not fit all uses when it comes to vinyl
Puma vinyl block cutterThe Vinyl Queen weeding

Here at Griffin Designs, we have two block vinyl cutters - our workhorses, and here is The Vinyl Queen herself, back on the tools weeding vinyl!

Gazebo banners R Us

Karen Griffin - Monday, April 30, 2018

Gazebo banners - very useful pieces of kit for those who have the hardest job of all.  Working on a street market.  Ever tried it?  Not so bad when the weather is good, but that is always outnumbered but those cold windy days.  Nowhere to warm up, and the toughest decision, if you run a stall on your own, of when to nip off for a warm up in the loos!

Whether you get your gazebo supplied by the local Craft Market organisers, or if you have to supply and erect your own, either way you don't want to get up any earlier just to make sure your signage looks great.

We are a one-stop shop for banners designed for gazebos.

Try our home-designed gazebo banner for the front outside lip of the gazebo.  Very effective and economical too. Watch the video here of the fun we had testing it!

Add in a traditional banner hanging from the gazebo rail at the inside back of the gazebo and that way you can be spotted from a distance and over the queue we hope will be forming.

At just £92 for a two metre gazebo banner and two metre internal banner - that is money spent better than going into a weekly magazine!

gazebo banners

Work wear is not just for workers

Karen Griffin - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Personalised workwear is not just for, well, workers!  These days we can print vinyl onto just about every fabric, which means just about anyone can personalise their workwear clothing.

And we can supply anything from formal shirts, to aprons, to the latest fitness wear.  All can have your name and logo on.  And once it is personalised, it becomes tax deductable. Now isn't that the best way to start the financial year?

personalised apronPersonalised beautician wear

What is an originators fee?

Karen Griffin - Thursday, April 19, 2018

So you have set up in business on your own.  You need perhaps two polo shirts, one hoodie and maybe a coat if it rains.

Budget of £100.  But what the heck is that £36 originators fee?

This was a question asked of us last week, by a lovely guy just setting up in business for the first time as a plumber.

It was difficult to explain to him that the traditional methods of making personalised clothing required a lot of artwork preparation.  In the case of screen printing, this was to make the screen.  Very cost effective if you are looking of a run of 100 units of the same size.  Ditto embroidery, although once set up, I believe the size can be adapted.

Either way, no use to the single trades person wanting just a few units.

This is where the new clothing vinyls win out. Not only is there no extra cost for artwork or origination.  But you could order single items and have a different effect on each.  Glitter? Definitely!  Foil? If you want it! Glossy? Why not! Embellished in snakeskin? Weird but possible!

In fact, from our training course, we managed to get all these lovely effects from just one make of clothing vinyl. And it works on fleece, lycra and waterproof jackets as well as polo shirts.

tshirt vinyl printing

What would you choose?

Workwear Clothing: Embroidery vs Vinyl

Karen Griffin - Monday, April 09, 2018

What is the difference between embroidery and vinyl personalised on workwear clothing?

Embroidery is the art of sewing a design into a piece of clothing.  These days it is all done by machine, and can be multi coloured, large or small.  It needs a good quality garment to start with and pricing is dictated by thread count.  Personally I have never understood how jackets and other waterproof pieces stay waterproof once a needle has been piercing it several thousand times, but that might just be me being daft.  I can't even sew on a button!

But vinyl . . well they don't call me the Vinyl Queen for nothing (though we did laugh at a recent Royal Mail missive address to Dear Ms Vinyl Queen).

We have been offering personalised workwear clothing for a while now, and we are jolly good at it.  Full colour, block single colour, we can now do it all.  Modern vinyls are truly amazing and very soft.  There are SO many different effects, which I might have to cover later.

So vinyl is cut to shape and/or printed.  It is then heatpressed onto the garment.  It takes a bit of skill to learn all the different heat settings for both garment and vinyl, but the end result is a fabulously soft, bright and impressive decal. 

It is not hard to see why screen printing for short runs is all but dead.  

But the main difference between embroidery and vinyl print is the difference it makes to the wearer.

Wash a product too hot and the embroidery can shrink and go stiff, pulling on the clothing fabric.  It used to be that vinyl cracked - but that is so last century. As you can see in the picture below, the arm embroidery has gone still and shrunk in the wash.  The rear vinyl print looks good.

difference between embroidery and vinyl

So give it a try . . . you will be amazed at the result and the price.  Especially with our satisfaction guarantee.

Urban Decay - its no April Fool

Karen Griffin - Sunday, April 01, 2018

Ever come back to your parked car to find a leaflet under the windscreen wiper?  

Bet that hasn't happened in a while now you think about it! That practice fell into the Government's fly-posting rules, and the fines are huge - up to £1k per offence.  It is not just about the litter (and that would be the liability of the car owner if they simply threw it on the ground).

Any posters, banners or boards found on railings and lampposts are now classed as fly-posting under new rules to prevent 'urban decay'. 

If, like me, you recognised this phrase in relation to a make-up brand, top marks!  But it is a real problem in urban areas - exactly the place where it works to display your temporary advertising material.

Some authorities are much more likely to take action than others.  We know that Manchester City Council has the largest number of successful fly posting  prosecutions of all areas.  Many of the London Boroughs have delegated their powers to Street Wardens to remove any signs they deem to be offence without giving notice.

Roadside advertising continues to be very cost effective, whether or not you retain your banners or boards after the event.  With a banner measuring 200x50cm currently costing in the region of £62, yet a small advertisement in a local weekly newspaper costing upwards of £150 you can see that on an exposure basis, it is often worth taking a risk.

With so many districts short on man power, the best advice is to keep your roadside advertising material attractive, inoffensive and clean.  If no-one complains, the Local Authority is less likely to take action. And always, always remove the material immediately after the event has taken place.

And check the spelling - carefully!

Offensive road side sign


I got the vinyls on time and they were great! 
Thank you for your quick work, that was really appreciated!

LC, on receipt of her bespoke vinyl stickers

Thanks Karen, and thanks for organising this for me – I don’t know what I would do without you!


Fontwell Park Racecourse, EN
My order arrived safely today and I love it!

Thank you so much for providing such a fantastic service, I will definitely be back for more.


JP, on receipt of banner
Just thought I would drop you a line to say how impressed I am with your Cambridge Weight Plan car decals, when I went to development day earlier this year the car park in the hotel was taken over with the car decals and again at our convention 2 weekends ago at the Sofitel in Heathrow, the car park had loads of your decals.  

CL, Cambridge Weight Plan Consultant
The vinyl looks great Karen! Thanks so much!
Julia 
JG, on Christmas Pop Up Shop Lettering

I can’t remember if I ever got back to you to say thank you for all the hard work you went to, to ensure my car decal was right?  I’ve now got it on my rear window; it looks great, and I’m extremely pleased with it – so a big thank you!


JR, Cambridge Car Decal

Thank you so much for the artwork, I love it! Wow if only all companies operated as efficiently as Griffin Designs!


JP, Cambridge Consultant
Excellent service - thank you so much.

LN, Church Administrator on her new stamp

Karen – They look fantastic!!! Thank you so so so much !! J xxxx


Sussex Pet Sitters on new signage
Hello, Decal received today, Fabulous, Thankyou. If only the rain would stop to apply it, Ha!Ha! Many Many Thanks
DS, on receipt of self-apply Car Decals
We have received the banner safe and sound, thank you. It looks fantastic! Thank you for all your effort in assuring it reached us in time.
MC, Arun District Council
Just letting you know i received the car sticker yesterday.   It more than met my expectations and i'm really pleased with it.

JW, on receipt of her Cambridge WP Car Decals
Thanks so much for the banner, it looked great at the Last night of the Proms on Saturday!

TJ, JC Solicitors
I LOVE the car decals!!! Thank you. The video online was very helpful and well worth watching.  You're right, it's addictive. I want them everywhere!!!!!


LC, on receipt of rear window car decal
Just seen the A29 Banner up for Ladies Evening.It looks fantastic!
EN, Fontwell Park Racecourse
Decals arrived thank you what a great service you provide.
JT, on receipt of car decal
Just received the banner and just a quick note to say how pleased I am with it …stunning. So thank you very much for your quick turnover and if any of the other branches need anything like this in the future you will be top of the list.
MH, Bath on receipt of Royal Marines Assoc banner

Brilliant … thank you so much!


RW, Henry Adams on sponsored boat decal
Many thanks for your service. Now I have my order I feel free to tell you that you were not the first company that I was in touch with. However, you proved twice as efficient, twice the the quality and half the price. 
Sandy, Caithness Cheese Co on his vinyl lettering
Thankyou for such a great job, I agree with you that it looks fab
Adrian Hunt, on his applied car decals
It has arrived & it's blue & I love it !! Thank you so much !
Earth Seed To Bloom, on receipt of rubber stamp
We’ve got the stamp, which is exactly what we wanted
KL, Heritage Investments, rubber stamps
Hello Karen. Thank you very much for my vinyl lettering which arrived last week and is perfect!
KM, Romsey
WOO HOO!! Marvelous news. They just arrived. They look great! Thank you very much, we are very happy.
LB, Artificial Eye, London
 . .to thank you for your generous contribution towards the live music event at the Spotted Cow. The evening was an overwhelming success and raised the outstanding sum of £1200.
North Mundham Primary School, on their event banner
Thank you for the promptness of attending to our order for a stamp, the quality is quite amazing!
Paul, Ice Band
Yup, the A board is looking great !   Thank you for taking the time to create such an eye catching, elegant & informative board, & completing the branding image.
SF Arundel Acupuncture, on arrival of her new A board
I just wanted to say I had my first enquiry from someone that had seen our car last week. Lots of people comment on 'seeing it about' but this has been the first enquiry (which I am sure will be more than just that) from someone genuinely excited about the services we offer, and already recommending us to friends.
CB, Task Angels, on success of car decals
Did four of the banners yesterday and they really were quite painless and easy as you say.  Thanks for the instructions and encouragement, etc.
JH, on replacement of banner lettering
The lettering was perfect.  Thank you very much for helping me out over the Bank Holiday weekend.
SJ, Maritime Acoustics
Just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for getting the sign done for me so quickly.
Weight Loss & Beauty Centre, on window decals

I just wanted to email you quickly to say that the stamp came today - it is perfect! I'm so pleased with the end result, it really has surpassed my expectations. Thank you so much for your extremely swift service, and care and attention to the design.


RP on arrival of her rubber stamp
the rubber stamp is perfect
KC, Chappell Sports Cars
"Thanks for such prompt delivery of my address stamp.  Despite the snow & ice, my lovely postie delivered it today.  It's just the job :)
LB-J, Hayling Island
Fantastic Karen – I think it looks great Thank you for your excellent help and service.
MB, Cambridge Consultant
I love it I really do, its fantastic! Thank you so much for everything you have done for me.
Peek-A-Boo-Events, on receipt of banner
Just to thank you for my order.  The decal looks great on the car
CD, on her Cambridge Car Decal
"Received the stamp today and we are thrilled with it. The quality is fantastic and we will definitely recommend you."
IJ, Dog Togz on receipt of a logo'd rubber stamp
Thank you very much, the signs arrived this morning, and have already been put up. They match very well, and I was impressed how easy they went up. Thank you for all your help.
NM, Environment Agency, Wales on vinyl lettering
I would just like to know that I'm soooo happy with my stamp  A very big thankyou

Kaiser, Boxer Dog
Its fab!!!  Thanks sooooo much.
SF, CWP Consultant on her car decals

Hi Karen just to let you know decals arrived safe today and look bloody marvellous thanks have recommended you to another consultant .... Thanks for a great service and great decal will shout if I ever need any more thanks again from Alli


AG, Scotland on her Cambridge Weight Plan car decals
'WOW, it looks fab. I'm already noticing people checking it out as I drive around.  Well done, a brilliant service, fantastic customer service, and a fabulous price. You tick all the boxes.'

TM, Middlesex on her Cambridge Weight Plan car decals
'Stamps received, very pleased with them and your services.  Thank you'
LW, JJD Skips
'Thank you for your work on the banner I saw it this morning and it looks great. '
TW, Lancastrian Infants' School, banner sponsored by Peugeot
received this morning, very pleased with purchase. Thank you
AH, Subaru Dealer, Loughborough
Just wanted to drop you an email to say thank you so much for doing the stamp for me. Its just as accurate and professional as I need it to be. Again, many thanks and I will be sending more business you way soon
AP, Purley
Fab job! Many thanks
AS, West Sussex NHS Primary Care Trust
Thank you for getting in touch, the banners were excellent, and I really appreciated you turning them around so quickly.
CC, West Sussex County Council, London 2012 Ahead of the Game
I absolutely love it, as does everyone else, thanks so much
CF, Foresters Lodge
Thanks for the banner. It's up and looks ok
CP, Chichester District Council
Many thanks for your help again

DB, TD Facilities, on repeat order of vinyl stencils
Many thanks for making these amendments. It now looks fantastic.
DL, Help for Heroes about a sponsored banner
We are writing to thank you so much for your donation of a replacement banner for our music Festival. It restores ones faith in human kindness. . . . we raised a staggering ��20,000.
Fundraising Office for 4SIGHT, West Sussex Association For the Blind, on their banner
I just wanted to thank you again for the banner, he loved it! Actually it is still hanging up two weeks later!
GC, Birdham on 60th birthday celebration banner
. . . thank you very much, it looks great
GJ, Great Dane Developments Ltd on advertising board
The logos have arrived safely. They are exactly the right size and just what I wanted.
JB, Internet order for Boat Decals
On this bleak and rather depressing Monday morning your concise and great info is like a breath of fresh air . . .
LC, Phoenix Rose, London
Definitely put me down as a very satisfied customer. I found you on a Google search. It was important to me to get a reasonable replication of the Jaguar logo.
MB, Kent
Thanks very much for the stamps, and for doing them so quickly
SM, sfmconsulting.co.uk
Cheers again for your excellent service. You will certainly be getting more of our work in the future
TH, Flexile Ltd
Order process was really smooth and the product was brilliant
TM, Lets Go Operate
Hi Karen. Received the stamp this morning, Bern is one very happy bunny, thanks so much.
VH, Liverpool
Stamps received today, these are great so much cleaner than the old fashioned way!
VP Vanila DPS
Just a quick thanks for another great stamper
ZH, Dynamic Osteopathy
A very belated thank you for the new banners. I put the first one up and everyone commented on how fabulous it looked. It is so much more noticeable than our old canvas ones and in the summer I will endeavour to get a sponsor sorted as you suggested.
MA, North Mundham School
We had lots of very positive comments on the wonderful design of the banners and they looked fantastic outside the school . . . this year we raised £2500 which we were absolutely delighted with.
MA, Treasurer, PTA North Mundham Primary School

Just received my replacement letters.  Thank you so much for sorting this so quickly


Kate, on receipt of Cambridge Car Decals
Thank you for the prompt service all arrived today!!
ACG Accounting on receipt of their vinyl bumper strip
I have received my print thank you so much for such fast delivery.

Fantastic 


AB, on receipt of car decal

Just to let u know that I received the vinyls this morning ok, and they all look really good many thanks.


DE, Perth on his vinyl lettering for a Burger van
Two words :
 
Banner = fabulous.
 
Again, thanks for the quick turnaround - very much appreciated.

JT from www.theolivejar.com
Brill thank you so much i love it and thanks for taking the time to get it right for me so cant wait for it to arrive =]  thanks so much Karen
KC, on her new car decal
Thanks so much for the banners - the team were very impressed today!

MA, Whyke United Under 11's
 just wanted to write to say thank you very much for my wheel cover and lettering.  It looks fab!  I am hoping that people will see it around and that I’ll get lots of new customers.
SL, Cambridge Weight Plan
I have it!

That was extremely fast!!  I'm very impressed.

Thank you very much!



TS, Marwicks Brasserie, Bosham on receipt of banner

My dad has put the decal on and it looks great!  Too dark to take a picture now but will send one on soon. Thanks for your great customer service.


WF, on receipt of Hypnoslimmer Car Decal
Goodness knows what your workshop smells like, because these banners have rather an orange-y whiff to them now!
Wilderness Development, on receipt of re-stripped banners
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