We recently had this little start-up named Larger Than Life (LTL) prints join us on Makers Market. They came on board with the sweet Mars Attacks! trading card art license from Topps, and they were making all kinds of extravagant claims about their business model: They’d print any image you want in poster sizes up to 7′. They’d cut your image to shape if you didn’t want a rectangle. They were using some kind of miracle fabric substrate covered with a low-tack adhesive that you could just smooth directly onto the wall. Kinda like a post-it note, they claimed, you could remove it and reposition it many, many times, and it wouldn’t damage the wall. I was, frankly, fairly skeptical.
They sent me a couple of samples, shown above, which I just now received and applied to my wall, and I am pleased to be able to report that the technology is apparently everything they claim. Plus the prints look great.
They sent me the four-foot size, which they recommend applying with a friend, because you have to peel it off of a wax-paper backing and get it aligned and smooth on the wall and that’s a lot easier, with a large size, if you’ve got four hands. But I was able to do it by myself with only a minimum of swearing by just peeling off the top edge of the decal, aligning it and smoothing it down on the wall, and then reaching behind the hanging print to peel off the backing from the top down, smoothing the decal to the wall as I went.
I just put them up a week ago, so I can’t report anything about how long the adhesive really lasts, or if it will really stay on the wall for months or years until I move. Or whether, when I do finally remove it, if it will really leave the wall undamaged. But this far into the product life-cycle, anyway, I am beyond impressed. The prints cling tight to the wall and, unless you look really close, appear to be painted on–like you’ve got custom murals painted right on your walls.
OK, so the technology appears to deliver on their claims, but what about the cost? I recently scored a golden-age comic book (“Camera Comics, #3,” published in 1944) featuring a beyond-awesome cover showing a female American combat reporter walloping a Nazi with a Kodak Medalist II. I bought it just for the cover, took a hi-res scan, retouched it, and decided I wanted to print two 17×24″ posters of it for myself and my buddy, Billy, who has a total gear-geek obsession with the Medalist II. I uploaded my art at LTLprints.com and two copies came to $60, with shipping.
Aye, methinks, there’s the rub. I can do way better than that at a copy shop. So I go over to my local no-longer-Kinko’s and have two copies printed on matte paper at 17×24″ for $40, proudly saving myself $20.
What I hadn’t counted on, of course, was the cost of mounting to the wall. I could just hang the paper on the wall with thumbtacks or tape, certainly, but I wanted a touch classier than just bare paper stuck to a wall. So I start looking for frames, and realize A) I can’t get a frame in exactly the size I want and B) even the cheapest frames of the closest acceptable size are going to cost me around $20 apiece, including shipping. And I’ll have to put a hole in the wall to hang them. So paper printouts, crappy frames, and holes in the walls for $80 together, versus the $60 LTL wanted for the whole package, including that awesome painted-on effect. Next time I want to print a custom poster I’m going with the wall cling.