Sue Pappas needed a name for her business that was free of any potential trademark issues.
She settled on West of the Wind.
“I don’t know why, and it’s a very odd name,” she allowed, but it was one she thought no one else in her industry would have.
Winds of change would blow, however. Within months of the 2007 launch of the Durant, Okla.-based company, Pappas and her two partners at the time realized that the market for indoor wall décor was saturated.
Turning their gazes outward, literally, they saw a void in the outdoor décor realm. They sought to fill it by offering giclee canvas prints for outdoor use.
Beginning with one size and 50 images in 2008, West of the Wind now wholesales more than 550 images that are available among three canvas sizes.
The pandemic has kept Americans in their own back yards, prompting a consumer splurge on outdoor decor. Seizing on that, Connells Maple Lee Flowers & Gifts began carrying the vibrant, high-quality West of the Wind products this year.
Protection from UV rays and water
Connells Maple Lee offers the canvases in two sizes – 24 by 24 inches and 30 by 40 inches – for $99.99 and $199.99, respectively. They can be purchased in-store or online.
Approximately 80 percent of the designs are based on paintings, with photographs comprising the other 20 percent, Pappas said. West of the Wind has licenses with the artists, who provide digital files to the company from high-resolution scans of their original artwork.
Pappas’ team then crops or makes any other necessary changes before sending the files for printing. Giant Epson inkjet printers (giclee is a French word meaning “to spray or to squirt with a nozzle”) transfer the design onto canvas. A proprietary lacquer is applied to the front and back to protect the canvas from harmful UV rays and water damage.
The canvas is gallery wrapped, meaning that the image appears on the sides of the frame as well as the front. The canvas is attached to vinyl stretcher bars that aren’t affected by moisture, cold or heat. Stainless steel staples, which can’t corrode, attach the stretched canvas to the stretcher bars.
Each print comes with hardware for outdoor installation. Two L-shaped hooks can be screwed into stone, stucco, brick, wood or aluminum. Brackets on the back of the canvas slide over the hooks. The hanging system is designed to withstand 60 mph winds.
West of the Wind guarantees its products for two years. But in these uncertain times, perhaps the best the outdoor canvases can do is help you do a better job of living in the moment.