ER2 Image Group Uses Printing Lingo in ‘Off the Wall’ Design
ER2 Image Group tapped into its printing roots for this design for its Chicago-area headquarters.

Featured Project: ER2 Image Group Uses Printing Lingo in ‘Off the Wall’ Design


Hanover Park, Illinois-based ER2 Image Group, a full-service grand-format printing and design company, moved into its facility in that city in the summer of 2018. It didn’t take long for the colorful and creative company’s staffers to get itchy about decorating their own space. As they write on their blog, “Blank walls make us twitchy. We just have to fill them in.”

The company says it was vice president Alan Schellerer that suggested a CMYK-themed mosaic. As ER2 explains: “People who speak ‘printing’ know that CMYK is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. Umm, say what? Okay, a little background may be in order. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Black? Why isn’t it CMYB? Well the K actually stands for ‘Key.’ The key color in today’s printing world is black but it has not always been. During the early days of printing, the colors used for Key have been brown, blue, or black—whichever was the cheapest ink to acquire at any given time. But the ‘K’ stuck. End of Printing 101. Back to our wall.”

Graphic designer Johanna Ficner and special project manager Scott Studt ran with Schellerer’s idea. They first looked at materials, and Studt decided that rather than use High Density Urethane (HDU), pine and plywood would bring out the detail they were after.

Ficner arranged the letters to highlight the “CMYK” and added in “ER2” at the top. “My favorite part of the piece is how each letter really stands out at you,” she says. The other letters were placed randomly and at different orientations for additional visual appeal.

“In another nod to our printing roots, the letters were made to mimic the block letters used in the first printing presses. At the time, each letter was hand-set one at a time to spell out the words on a page. Thankfully, printing evolved quickly and the process goes a lot faster today. But it still creates a great look which was perfect for this project,” the company writes.

After the design was complete, the company’s CNC MultiCam router was put to work.

“We wanted to create a weathered and distressed finish so we used multiple techniques to get different finishes,” Studt says. “After the paint dried, we marred the paint with chains, screwdrivers, picks, rocks and some pent-up frustration.”

The company says it took six weeks to put everything together, with employees volunteering their time after work hours to finish it.

“It’s really satisfying to see this project come together and fill the wall,” Ficner says. “This focal point really shows our attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

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