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Trade Secrets

Jellyfish Design

Brendan Perring speaks to Jason Price, creative designer at Jellyfish Design, who underlines the technology and strategy that underpin its success, as well as a passion for motorsport design

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Inspirational ideas: Jason Price explains his and the company director, Justin Higgs', shared love of motorsport and automotive design fuels their passion for design

A passion for the perfect print

I will never forget sitting on the sofa with my dad as little boy, glued to the Formula 1 grand prix on a Sunday. One of the adverts during the break that has stuck in my imagination was for Camel cigarettes, which at that time was sponsoring Peugeot in the Paris Dakar rally championship. A helicopter camera crew is tracking the Peugeot 205 as it thunders down a mountain track in Africa, before it power slides around a hairpin bend, dust exploding like a bomb has gone off behind it. Its livery was Camel yellow and covered in vinyl-cut stickers with red, blue, and cyan stripes. I was awe-struck, the coolest and most amazing thing I had ever seen.

I ended up with the scale model and a 20-a-day habit by the time I was 18. But Jason Price of Jellyfish Design is living the dream. He gets to design and apply printed graphics for race beasts from across the motorsport world after joining the firm a little over a year ago. The owner of Jellyfish is Justin Higgs, and he has built up a serious reputation for his company that sees them come recommended across petrol head forums and working for the crème de la crème of race teams, with a specialisation in touring cars.

Inspirational ideas: Jason Price explains his and the company director, Justin Higgs', shared love of motorsport and automotive design fuels their passion for design

Jellyfish offers a bespoke design, manufacturing, and installation service for graphics on any type of vehicle though. Whether that is a one-off or an entire fleet of vehicles to be branded. It can also do commercial print, and offers an end-to-end service by providing everything from corporate stationery through to brochures, posters, and flyers.

Experience counts

Speaking to Price, he explains that the secret to Jellyfish’s success is the combined experience it has in-house, and also the technology it has invested in to get the job done.

“I have been working as a graphic designer for about 25 years now. And I am very fortunate to work in a part of the industry that is motor sports driven,” says Price.

He continues, highlighting that a key element to pursuing growth and expanding its customer base has been through investing in the right kit, the most recent addition to its armoury being the OKI Color Painter M-64s: “My first impression of using the OKI is its speed, reliability, and consistency. That is what we needed, and that is why we invested in it. A lot of motor sport teams cannot afford to have their own design team on board, and sponsors want their colours to be perfect now, and perfect four months, four years from now.

(Above & below) The OKI Color Painter M-64s has been a critical factor for Jellyfish in retaining its customers in a competitive sector and attracting new ones. (Touring car) OKI unveiled its Print My Ride competition at The Print Show 2016, with its sponsored race car designed and wrapped by Jellyfish 

“One of the first projects we worked on using the Color Painter there were a lot of vector based colours, and I was a little bit concerned that it wasn’t going to be ok. But to be brutally honest I have never had a machine able to print that level of colour, with that consistency. You can trust the printer to achieve what you have sent it, without the need to re-print and adjust.”

Price also explains a particular facet of the Color Painter, which means it can hit a depth and solidity of colour and make an impression on the viewer that was once only achievable through high-end spray jobs and vinyl cut graphics: “If you print a black line that fades, what I call composite black—100 percent black with 20 percent of each other colour. When your black line comes to an end, all the heads will be firing, and on other machines you are going to get a slight colour bleed as it starts to fade the colour. Even though the heads are not receiving much data, they still need to fire. But having the seven-colour capability in the OKI Color Painter, that line will fade to nothing perfectly without a hint of colour bleed.”

Cast-iron consistency

Price explains the Color Painter has helped it both retain its major contracts with motor sport teams, while also helping it win a raft of new work—as it builds and spreads its reputation for being able to perfectly hit spot
colours and provide cast iron consistency.

“It really has given us a competitive sting,” jokes Price, who adds: “The other key thing is it is low odour compared to our other devices. That was another attraction for me, as I sit right in front of it, and it is Greenguard Gold certified for low-dour emissions.

(Above & below) Boyhood dreams: Like Jason Price of Jellyfish Design, this writer fell in love with motorsport design from an early age

“I have been using wide-format gear since the 1990s and the first machine I used was a Roland 500, and since then I have gone through newer Roland, HP, Mimaki, and Mutoh machines, and all kinds of brands that have come and gone, even the Uniform Grenadier.

“I am so happy that OKI have embraced this technology and reengineered it from Seiko’s first iteration, which was already fantastic. I honestly have never seen another device with its ability to put colour down, combined with the speeds it can achieve. It never ceases to amaze me.”

Price tells a recent story that saw Jellyfish doing the design and wrapping on two big white high-sided vans. The specification required huge areas of dark colour, and he explains previously it would have required a lot of wasted print and even patching panels together to get a solid finish without banding. However, the OKI did it perfectly first time.

I honestly have never seen another device with its ability to put colour down

“Seiko has a proud history, and when the first models came out everyone wanted one. Today its legacy continues with the OKI Color Painter, and that dedication to precision. I mean, I can load 50m on to it, push go, and it will be millimetre perfect from start to finish. And that goes for contour cutting as well, which we do with a Graphtec that is bolted into it through Signlab software.

“I would go as far as saying its disgustingly precise, it’s like black magic, and I don’t know how they do it.”

I would go as far as saying its disgustingly precise, it’s like black magic

The next big move for Jellyfish will see it extend its scope, which also covers a full range of standard sign-making services, into providing the graphics for pit garages—replacing the need for 30 or so individually printed foamex panels with single pieces of print produced on the OKI that it will install directly on site.

“The future is bright for us, we have the right team, the right skills, and now the right technology to back it up. I love my job and not a lot of people get to say that and mean it.”

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