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Driving a BMW is more about getting there than actually getting there. Few understand this better than photographer Rick Davis, who used to race Pro Rally BMWs. So it was only natural that Davis would find some way to relate the unique experience of driving a BMW to clients of a local BMW dealership in West Chester, Pa., where Davis is based.
The dealership was also one of Davis’ former sponsors when Davis raced, so the connection was more than passing. Davis now photographs the BMWs on the road, along with architectural-style interior shots, so the next logical step, at least in Davis’ mind, was to bring the road machines to life with his Epson 9600 printer.
“We want to create a place with gorgeous cars and images, so that it’s more like a gallery than a showroom. It takes the dealership out of the normal mode,” explains Davis.
Aside from his motoring photography, Davis is a well-rounded and accomplished photographer with more than 30 years of experience in lifestyle, portraiture, still life, and corporate work. The sum of his experience, both in photography and racing, is brought to bold visual life through the extra-large prints which adorn the dealership.
The majority of images Davis has printed so far, mainly for the dealership’s service bay and reception areas, were printed on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Self Adhesive Polypropylene.
The prints are typically applied to 1/2-in. or 3/8-in. Gatorfoam and mounted to four screws placed in the wall. “It’s very clean and architectural, like using exhibition pins,” says Davis.
The largest is image is about 24 feet long, which Davis says requires more preparation and forethought to ensure a seamless print that fits the space perfectly. Most of the other gallery-style prints are generally 42 in. x 64 in.
“The Water Resistant Polypropylene runs well on the printer, and it goes down without a flaw. It’s a professional media that makes the process repeatable,” says Davis. “If you’re careful you can apply it with your hand using a white glove. Once I apply the print I put something over the print to protect it and place a 4x8 sheet of Masonite and sandbags on top of it overnight. If there was any air trapped between the media and the foam to begin with, the weight forces it down and out.”
Before he got his own printer about five years ago, Davis used to farm out similar jobs that were printed on a Lightjet. “Those prints early in the digital age faded rather quickly, but we haven’t seen any fading with the Epson inks on the polypropylene,” says Davis. “In fact, there’s one print that’s in direct sunlight all day long, and it’s been up for about three years, and the color hasn’t budged.”
Davis plans to apply Water-Resistant Polypropylene prints in the windows of the reception area for a great backlit effect. However, Davis is hoping to go a bit further with the concept by using a window shade-type system in the window panels of the dealership’s newest location with a translucent 3P fabric material.
“These will be eight-foot-tall sliding window shades that they can mix and match, put away, or just put up as banners. They’ll be using an IKEA system that allows you to put your own material in the shades,” explains Davis.
The new store also has a drive-in service area with what Davis characterizes as a rather “bleak” and boring wall, so he’s planning to provide the BMW gallery treatment there as well, featuring his unique interior and on-the-road photography.