by Lara Copeland, assistant editor, PostPress
Football fans around the country observe the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl each winter by holding and attending parties. Similarly, the NFL commissioner celebrates the Super Bowl by hosting an annual party the Friday before the big game. To celebrate the event’s 50th anniversary in 2016, the NFL asked DataGraphic, Brentwood, New York, to create the invitation for its yearly party. The final product represents the five decades of the Super Bowl’s existence while commemorating its golden anniversary.
When Chris Stackhouse, NFL art director, brought his design concept to Glenn Schuster, president of DataGraphic, the team created an invitation that conveyed 50 years of the Super Bowl’s greatest players. Covering a story this long in the making required Stackhouse to design a collector’s set of five unique invitations, and to complete the project, DataGraphic used a Mitsubishi UV Litho press, a Kluge EHD press, a Pot Devin mounting machine and an M&R flatbed screen printing press and UV dryer.
On the front of each invitation in large, gold foil is the number “50” set against a black background. Across the entire front of the card, from top to bottom, is a repeating list of past MVPs and the accompanying Roman numerals representing the Super Bowls in which they played. The background was foil stamped with a clear hot stamping foil.
The back of the invitation features a silhouetted player collage alongside the party details. Schuster’s team was challenged with getting the 4-color imagery in the silhouette to show up perfectly on the metalized silver cover (24pt. Hampton Bright Silver Cover) without overwhelming the invitation. To meet this requirement, DataGraphic’s printing technique entailed creating a white base consisting of two hits of opaque UV white for the silhouetted player collage that would then be overprinted in 4-color process.
Next, the cards were foil stamped five-up (one of each design). Each lot was foil stamped with Crown 370 Gold and embossed with a silhouette of either a player or coach. The fronts of the cards then were foil stamped with the same Gold 370 and the clear gloss for all five lots. The top and bottom sheets were mounted to the middle sheet to achieve the 51pt thickness, and a final trim was performed. Finally, it was gilded in metallic gold, with a serial sticker adhered to it before being inserted into the sleeve.
The invitation’s sleeve was created with 92lb So Silk Black Cover and 80lb Royal Sundance Smooth Black Cover. It received a multi-process crossover pattern of laser cutting and foil stamping. The foil stamping was done with a first pass of clear foil and then a second pass of gold foil. The number “50” was laser cut in the Roman numeral pattern. The laser cut “50” aligns perfectly with the gold “50” on the invitation – allowing it to show through the sleeve. The sleeve’s NFL symbol was embossed in register with the foil stamping, and the background on both sides of the sleeve utilized a step and repeat graphic of Roman numerals – representing the Super Bowl’s 50-year tradition – that were foil stamped with clear foil to create the pattern.
One of the production challenges for DataGraphic was getting the foil to perfectly register to the laser cutting on the sleeve. “There was no tolerance for error since certain words and symbols were literally split in half with one side being foil stamped and the other half laser cut,” Schuster explained. He continued by saying that it was probably the biggest concern since the cards were gilded and the gilding process required a certain amount of the sides of the cards to be ground off in preparation for the gilding.
DataGraphic and the NFL partner each season to create an invitation package for the commissioner’s celebration during Super Bowl week. The two parties have built a rapport over the years, and DataGraphic continues to impress its customer. “They absolutely loved the result,” Schuster exclaimed. The completed invitation not only wowed the NFL, it also earned DataGraphic a silver award from the Foil & Specialty Effects Association in the laser cutting category of the Gold Leaf Awards this past year.