Vehicle wrapping expert James Deacon from Bigger Stickers works with big names around the world, bringing his incredible experience to the in-depth vehicle wrap training courses he delivers at the Roland DG Academy UK. He'll be writing regular blogs on wrapping to help you learn more about this exciting application and how it could transform your business – so let's get to know him better.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into vehicle wrapping?
The first step was in traditional sign-making, learning techniques like hand-painting, gold-leafing and hard-carving, at a small, high-end business. From there I learnt digital design and became a freelance graphic designer, specialising in vehicle design whilst continuing to install on a freelance basis. I was approached to demonstrate vehicle wrapping at national sign shows such as FESPA, viscom and Sign and Digital UK on behalf of manufacturers. This took me all over Europe.
Around ten years ago I began to teach vehicle wrapping. It was the first training course in the UK at that time and since then I've worked with Metamark, Grafityp and Roland to deliver wrapping courses to businesses from across the UK – from big companies to one-man-bands.
What do you like most about vehicle wrapping?
For me, it is the teaching element. It's great to see beginners coming through the course, building their confidence and adding wrapping to their business. We always listen to feedback and have developed the course over several years to make it the most evolved in the UK. Over the two-day course we cover everything – not just fitting, but design, equipment, business management and more.
At your company Bigger Stickers, have you had any famous clients or undertaken any unusual projects?
I'm an all-rounder and can take on any kind of job, so have done lots of exciting work for amazing people. I've worked with a lot of footballers, for instance Mario Balotelli, plus Renault Formula 1, Aston Martin, and every year I do the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I've done large fleets, colour-changing wraps – all sorts of projects internationally. In fact, I spent four years working directly with motorsport race series such as A1 Grand Prix, GP2 Series and Superleague Formula, providing an on-site wrap service all over the world. I've been involved in most of the Formula 1 races in Asia and the Middle East.
Another highlight has been working with the guys on the Discovery Channel show Wheeler Dealers at the Classic Motor Show – four episodes covering different elements of vehicle wrapping and vinyl application. And at the end of last year I was asked to go to Ibiza to wrap a DJ booth for David Guetta!
What's the most difficult kind of vehicle wrapping project?
The more complex the shape to wrap, the more difficult the job. Also, any job that you aren't familiar with is always more difficult. I have done a few yachts over the years; these are always challenging due to their shape and surface but look great when they're done.
However, sometimes the most difficult aspect is the customer, not the job itself! Customer and business management is part of the Roland Academy course so businesses are well prepared to manage expectations. It's important to know your materials and educate the customer about the limitations of the materials and to sell the product correctly before work is completed.
Can you share some examples of your work and explain why they stand out for you?
Some projects that stand out are a hand-carved fibreglass and full wrap done with Edd China from Wheeler Dealers to turn a car into a loaf of bread, and wrapping and pinstriping a replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in which I went for a drive with my lad! Another one is a boat wrap applied in Marbella with a great graphic design team – DCD Productions from Menorca.
What advice can you offer for businesses getting started in vehicle wrapping?
Of course, I'd say training! The all-round knowledge provided by the Roland Academy course is essential for businesses of all sizes – you'll learn about equipment, potential pitfalls – and there is further specialist training if required. Some people think you can use YouTube to learn, but I would be very wary of this. There are many videos that are misleading or assumptions can be made. The work you see online might be substandard and lifted or they could have even gone out of business!
What kind of equipment and tools should businesses think about investing in for vehicle wrapping applications?
A digital printer (I'd recommend a 64" wide format printer), Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator software and a laminator. There are lots of specialist tapes and tools like squeegees, heat guns and laser thermometers on the market but for every £100 you spend you can easily spend £100 more! These days there are many more suppliers offering a wealth of specialist tools; we help to guide you through these options on the course.
Businesses benefit from purpose-built premises designed for vehicle wrapping, that are cleaner than a standard sign workshop, painted white, with appropriate lighting – preferably daylight lighting – and heated in a way so there's no flowing air, such as with underfloor heating. There is a lot to think about but it's all explained on the course.
What sort of people attend the course?
Many sign and print companies who have bought a wide format printer for banners or roll-ups find their customers start to ask about wraps, so the course is useful for them. Traditional sign-writers and litho printers attend, plus people looking for a new career. Manufacturers, like materials brand Metamark, also recommend the course to their customers. The training is designed to be well-rounded enough for a range of different people.
James's fun facts
- How would you describe yourself in three words? Creative, hardworking, conscientious.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Check twice, cut once!
- What’s your favourite social media platform? Facebook, with Instagram a close second.
- In your spare time you enjoy… Time with family.
- What three things don’t people know about you? I was in a band in my 20s called Atomic Hooligan – we performed with Snow Patrol. I don't like fruit with savoury flavours – pineapple on pizza is wrong! I'm interested in Japanese culture and my favourite artist is Katsushika Hokusai.
Connect with James
Social media sites: @biggerstickers
Want to know more about vehicle wrapping?
Download our latest vehicle wrapping infographic where James offers expert advice on pre-application, essential tools, wrapping strategy and some common mistakes to watch out for. Find out more about our two-day vehicle wrap training course at the Roland Academy.