When we install graphics at TKO, it’s usually done somewhere out of the public eye, like a garage or warehouse. But there’s a performance quality to the process that would hold an audience. Possibilities are abundant, but I envision a building-front mural collaboration with an artist. So, a crowd gathers to watch as a giant composition of decals takes shape. They’re there to watch the vehicle graphics installer – shall we dance?

The Effortless Squeegee Stroke

My coworkers might roll their eyes, but the synchronous precision of an installation crew cleaning surfaces, taking measurements, and sticking vinyl is rather dance-like. The movement I find most fascinating is the squeegee stroke. The name isn’t elegant, but the motion is. Installer squeegees are roughly the size and shape of a playing card and are made of a rigid vinyl. Put simply, they’re used to create a bond between decal and surface through the application of pressure and removal of air. A good squeegee stroke starts in the shoulder and finishes with a subtle sweep of the wrist. It looks effortless. It isn’t.

One of the ways you can tell an experienced installer from a rookie is squeegee speed. Veterans fly over the vinyl, gracefully avoiding obstacles, back n’ forth, like some frenzied impressionist painter.

Intuitive Skill, and the Resourceful Decal Installer

The more time I spend working with TKO, the more I’m convinced there’s an unspoken creative energy amongst the installation crew. Because, humor, intelligence, and resourcefulness are ample here, and the skill level and degree of intuitiveness that must be developed to do this job well are considerable.

The Vehicle Graphics Installer – Shall We Dance?

Who knows? Maybe the next physical theater phenomenon will be a well-rehearsed team of commercial graphics installers…