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‘Swiftie Steps’ installed overnight for Taylor Swift concert

Artist Frank Styles (sitting) poses with his 'Auras' artwork alongside the mayor of London
Artist Frank Styles (sitting) poses with his 'Auras' artwork alongside the mayor of London

Ashford large-format firm Graphic Point worked through the night to beat a tight deadline and install a bespoke staircase graphic for Taylor Swift’s Wembley Stadium concerts in June.

At every stage a race against the clock, the job saw 90sqm of print installed over Wembley’s ongoing ‘Spanish Steps’ experiential marketing project.

Right alongside the staircase, another large format firm – West London’s Studiotwenty7 – installed 16 1,500x1,000mm backlit large-format film prints, with a similarly tight turnaround: just four days to print and install.

Claudio Giambrone, Wembley Park’s head of marketing, oversaw the project. 

The steps, printed from an original artwork, 'Auras' created by artist Frank Styles in his garage, was of particular complexity.

A bright, colourful mural depicting Taylor Swift's face adorns a triple stairway leading to the Wembley Arena

Giambrone told Printweek that thanks to scheduling constraints at Wembley – a different concert was due the Sunday prior – and IP-related hurdles, the project was forced to pick up a fast pace.

“This project was unique due to the level of approvals required, involving stakeholders such as the GLA, the Stadium, tour promoters AEG, and Taylor's management.

“The turnaround had to be quick, which was challenging for our small team, especially given the time required to secure necessary permissions [for IP] – but it was entirely worthwhile,” he said.

“The outcome was so well-received that Mayor Sadiq Khan used the steps as a backdrop to officially welcome Taylor Swift to London.

“We had queues of adoring fans from early morning to early evening waiting to take photos with the artwork. Images went viral across the web and social media, and TV crews from ITV , BBC and NBC’s Today Show using it as a backdrop for filming.”

Installation was carried out at the last minute, with Graphic Point’s team watching the weather closely, according to the firm’s director, Charlie Hawkins, who told Printweek that the forecast had looked poor in the week leading up to install.

“If it were to rain, or the surface became wet, then we wouldn’t be able to apply the print to the stairs. We physically wouldn’t have been able to install the print, because the vinyl would have just fallen straight off the steps,” he explained.

Fortunately, the weather held; the challenge remained, however, of an extremely tight turnaround.

“We started printing on the 17th, installed on the night of the 18th, [starting at 11pm], then on the 19th the mayor [Sadiq Khan] came to the reveal – and we’d literally just come off a job for the Champions League,” Hawkins said.

Graphic Point printed the job on an Agfa Anapurna roll-to-roll UV printer on Mactac Street Wrap with laminate, packing each strip carefully for installation.

“It’s a brilliant machine, and the media handling is very good, so it’s easy to change jobs quickly; we run a lot of different materials. What takes time is the actual cutting and packing, making sure that every step is correct,” Hawkins said.

“The last thing you want is for the installers to set up on site and then have to play Jenga and work out which step goes with which.”

Studiotwenty7 was likewise under time pressure when setting up its lightboxes; June is the busiest time of year for the firm, which prints for the Wimbledon Championships, and it had just four days to print and install.

“Claudio’s team made it happen very smoothly,” said Tallulah Coen-d’Arcy, creative director at Studiotwenty7.

Printing the 16 images over two days on the company’s Roland LEC2-640-UD - UV onto backlit polyester films from Papergraphics, Studiotwenty7 created a display of “gorgeous” images of Taylor Swift’s tour, supplied by Getty Images.

Coen-d’Arcy’s team also printed plaques for each image, using black-out film over foamex panels.