His sign-making and graphic design business hurting from the pandemic, Waldemar Alfred Paul John–better known as WAP John–has found a new source of income in what he calls this “new Zoom thing.” The longtime owner of Grafaktri on N. Main realized that many Ann Arborites forced to hold virtual meetings would like a background setting more appealing than a blank wall, boring bookcases, or a messy living room.
“People have to up their games,” John says. Unlike other designers, though, he didn’t stop at creating digital files that only appear onscreen. He actually prints what he calls “large distinctive backgrounds for videoconferencing that can be easily placed on the wall behind you”–all “elegant soft-glow and textured images that keep the focus on the individual. No distractions.”
Options range from “green glow” to “rainbow watercolor” to “golden green painterly.” The fabric hangings come in three sizes, depending on the distance between your computer’s camera and the wall. One suitable for a five-foot distance costs $99 including delivery. The six-foot medium costs $139 and a large piece suitable for a seven-foot distance is $189. He’ll also do custom backdrops for other distances.
John has made signs and graphics for the U-M, Zingerman’s, Literati, the Grange, and others. With traditional business slow, he’s hoping the new move into virtual wallpaper will pay off. “Covid,” he says, “is not going away soon.”