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Color and Creativity on Display

Design comes to life in every dimension at Keystone Displays, a consortium of gifted designers, builders, display architects, and color specialists.

Campus Door

This creative display incorporates dye-sub fabric for the primary black-and-white image, 10 Mil LexJet Clear and 10 Mil Coex PreLume Opaque White Backer for the stand-off on the left (see rendering below), LexJet Instant Dry Clear Polyester printed orange and topped with white vinyl lettering for the three translucent stand-offs, and the interactivity of a plasma display behind the LexJet Clear stand-off.

Located just across the Susquehanna River from Pennsylvania’s state capitol, Harrisburg, sits Keystone Displays, an exhibit and display design-build team that lives up to the double meaning of its Keystone namesake.

Besides residing in the Keystone state, Keystone Displays creates an almost endless combination of displays where design and architecture combine to form a cohesive keystone to anchor the customer’s advertising message in a variety of venues.

What Keystone Displays has accomplished in its design and production processes is the ability to take a plethora of projects from concept to installation with a relatively small staff. With six full-time employees and a short list of strategic vendor partners, Keystone Displays is able to meet and exceed customer demands with multi-talented, multi-tasking staff and a focus on creativity, quality, and color.

Rendering by Keystone Displays

Creative Complements

Though essentially an exhibit and display builder since its inception in 1996, graphics have always been a mainstay and an important differentiator for Keystone Displays. After all, what good is all the attention to detail in the conceptualization and building phases if the graphics that adorn the structure don’t meet the same criteria?

“We always prided ourselves on the creativity of our design and recognized early on that design is the integral part of a trade show exhibit,” says Sean Farrell, owner and founder of Keystone Displays. “We work with a lot of agencies and color and color consistency has always been a hallmark of our company.”

Over the years, Farrell and his staff have effectively combined close strategic partnerships with outside vendors with its own in-house capabilities. The result is a one-stop shop with all the tools at its disposal that are close enough at hand to maintain a high level of quality control.

Banner Stands

Banner stands are big mover at Keystone Displays, including these that are mixed and matched, depending on the event or venue. These banners were printed on LexJet 6.5 Mil Gloss Opaque Display Film and laminated with 3.2 Mil GraphicsGuard UV Luster w/ PreLume.

Though most of the printing is done in-house on the company’s HP printers, Keystone Displays has found vendors it can rely on for dye-sublimation fabric or dimensional letters, for instance. Moreover, Keystone extensively tests and then relies on media and products the company can fully trust in its printing and finishing processes to maintain the look and consistency the company’s clients have come to expect.

“The solutions we use are proven, so that there’s no guesswork in the process,” says Chris Foreacre, digital media developer for Keystone Displays. “The product we use most for our exhibit displays is LexJet Clear and Backer. However, this year especially, we’ve had more call for banner stands and have found an extremely effective and vibrant combination our customers prefer with LexJet 6.5 Mil Gloss Opaque Display Film and 3.2 Mil GraphicsGuard UV Luster w/ PreLume.”

Foreacre adds that beyond using the right material combinations for the best results, the most important element in the printing process has been maintenance. Keystone Displays maintains a rather rigorous maintenance schedule for its printers.

The natural breaks in production due to the regular maintenance routines are well worth the downtime, says Carrie Knapp, design and graphics production manager for Keystone Displays, and a ten-year veteran of the company.

The Communications Gym

The primary image for this exhibit is dye-sub fabric, flanked by graphics printed on LexJet Clear and Backer.

“If you don’t take good care of the printer, particularly the workhorse production printer, the quality suffers. So we take out all of the printheads, clean up any ink buildup, oil the slider bar, replace the blades, swap out the electronic eye, and anything else that affects printing,” explains Knapp. “We do this routine every other week and before a large job goes through.”

Beyond Blueprints

Due to Keystone Displays’ overall strategy and its seamless incorporation of in-house capabilities with outsourcing, the company is able to be extremely flexible and on its proverbial toes, ready for anything clients can throw the company’s way.

“We don’t approach projects with cookie-cutter solutions; we approach every project with a clean slate of paper and find the best solution for the client from a structural and architectural aspect first. We figure out what we want to do for them architecturally, and then incorporate the graphics from there to come up with a comprehensive and total solution,” says Farrell.

“Almost all of our projects are designed in-house, and we create some beautiful three-dimensional renderings to help sell the project. Some smaller houses like ours rely on the component manufacturers to render their designs, but we’re doing it all in-house,” adds Farrell. “We have the ability to completely show how the exhibit will look in a photorealistic way and we can walk our clients through the exhibit three dimensionally. It certainly increases the possibility of getting the sale. And, once someone knows who we are and what we do, we become a resource for them for all types of graphics projects.”


This display for Berk-Tek mixes and matches dye-sub fabric, LexJet Clear and Backer mounted to Sintra (with acrylic cut-outs that house the wires and cables the company manufactures), dimensional letters, vinyl letters, and a plasma screen.

The company’s philosophy is illustrated in the unusually diverse types of displays it creates, from simple retractable banner stands to large structures that incorporate fabric, wood, metal, and interactive plasma displays.

Since Keystone Displays is able to move quickly and offer complete flexibility to its clients, the company is positioned to provide value-added services and true customized programs that help spread the word of mouth that has been most crucial to its success.

“I don’t want to jinx us, but we’ve made a lot of progress in our market without having to focus too heavily on advertising,” says Knapp. “We do some mailers and postcards, as well as Chamber of Commerce shows, but we’ve been most successful simply providing the best customer service and quality possible, and word gets around that way.”

Keystone Displays provides its clients with hands-on exhibit and display training as well as written instructions to help ensure the proper handling, installation, tear-down, and packing of each exhibit.  So, though Keystone Displays can’t control what happens after the display is shipped for what is often repeated use on the road somewhere, the company doesn’t wash its hands of the project either. Clients appreciate this detailed quality control from the very beginning of the project to the end.

Carrie Knapp

Carrie Knapp, design and graphics production manager for Keystone Displays.

Volume 3  -  No. 7


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