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How One Event Designer Got Gotham Glam With A Sensational Digitally Printed Backdrop

Design For The Lincoln Center Gala Used Lightbox Fabric

When we introduced Matthew David of 360 Design Events LTD. to our digital printing on specialty fabrics, he knew he had found the perfect way to produce his vision for a grand format backdrop at a Lincoln Center gala event. As explained to Matthew, our Lightbox fabric is made to be lit from behind. When the fabric is direct-dye printed and backlit, it produces a brilliantly luminescent effect that’s similar to viewing film on a light box. Having viewed a backlit fabric sample, Matthew said, “I didn’t know you could do that with fabric!”

Comparison of "unlit" sample of digitally printed lightbox fabric (left), vs. "backlit" sample (right).

Matthew utilized the virtues of the fabric perfectly. His brilliant design for the Lincoln Center gala featured a 30’ high x 60’ wide, stylized image of NYC’s iconic skyline and East River. When backlit, the skyline and river appeared to glow from the very lights depicted within the image itself. The effect was simultaneously realistic and fantastical (see skyline image below).

In addition to their obvious esthetic appeal, fabric backdrops offer enormous advantages compared to other methods of achieving similar results (e.g., duratrans). Since they are lightweight, fabric backdrops don’t require any rolling or large frames for transport or storage. They also take just a fraction of the time to set up, and any wrinkles can be easily steamed away.

360's brilliant design for the Lincoln Center gala featured a fantastic 30’ high x 60’ wide, backlit, stylized image of NYC’s East River skyline.

There are also a number of other considerations to keep in mind when creating a backdrop of this size.  Mike All of Rose Brand’s Digital printing Dept advises that, “One of the difficulties in producing extremely large printed backdrops is finding an appropriate image that’s of high-enough resolution to be scaled to the dimensions of the drape. The image chosen has to be dramatic enough for that ‘Wow!’ effect, but it also has to be detailed enough to remain sharp when enlarged to tens or even hundreds of times beyond its original size.  It would be anti-climatic to have an image that looks good from 50’ away, appear as a  pixilated mess from 5’ away. When photographers take pictures they usually don’t optimize their image to be blown-up to the dimensions that we use. They usually shoot for no larger than an 11” x 17” print, but this project required an image that was 30’ high x 60’ wide!”

This image shows three (3) widths of lightbox sewn together. Notice the detail of the reflections in the water and the different levels of brightness in the windows and street.

Michael Reed, Rose Brand’s Digital Printing Manager talks about another important consideration in grand scale digital printing, “It simply would not be possible without expert stitchers. Lightbox is a 122” wide fabric off the roll. For a drop that is 60’ wide, you need to sew six 10-yard long panels together perfectly, recognizing that you’ll use virtually every usable inch on the fabric surface to print, while still leaving the stitchers enough fabric to sew the pieces together. There were so many detailed windows, streets and glows in this piece that it all had to be sewn perfectly in order to look perfect. There really was no room for error."

If you would like to find out more about how Rose Brand can help you in your design, digital printing, project management, and custom sewing needs, please visit, or send us an email at, or give us a call at 800-223-1624.

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