After grad school, I took a job as a rookie installer at TKO Graphix in Plainfield, IN. Trust me when I say that vinyl graphics installation, especially vinyl wrapping, is one of the most insanely difficult skills a person can learn. Rather than explain the complexities of tools, materials, and the role of atmospheric conditions (no joke), I’ll ask you to imagine how you’d apply a sticker the size of a bedsheet to the rounded front end of a VW Bug so that it looks like a new coat of paint…no wrinkles, bubbles, or specks of dust allowed. Needless to say, my first few weeks of training at TKO were a bit overwhelming. Enter Brad Felty…a cool, laid-back cat who took the time to give me pointers and offer reassurance when I was feeling like a ham-handed Homer Simpson.
In February 2015 I caught up with Brad via LinkedIn and learned that he had started B-Wrapped, a high-end wrap studio that’s quickly developed a loyal following and sterling reputation in the Greater Indianapolis area. With certifications from 3M, Avery, and the Lowen Certified Testing Center, Brad is among the most highly trained and elite installers nationwide, and I’m super pumped to have him help kick off The New Artisans.
Before we get too far along, I’d like to know a bit about what you were doing before you started wrapping vehicles…
“So, I started wrapping in 2010. Before that, I was part of an elite crew of acrobatic dunkers (acro-dunkers) for the Indiana Pacers called the POWER PACK. Basically, we hyped the crowd and did trick dunks between the 3rd and 4th periods, and at times, we were featured as the halftime show.”
Acro-dunking! That’s awesome. So then, how did you get into the wrap industry, and what made you decide to dig in and pursue it as a career?
“Well, I was really into learning graphic design, reading tutorials and watching videos, and I started making mixtape covers and t-shirts for local artists. Eventually, I approached TKO Graphix (without really knowing what they did) assuming I’d land myself a job in the design department. As luck would have it, I was thrown into the installation department and never looked back.
I decided to make it a career because of the satisfaction of the end product. Plus, I love how the wrap industry brings together artists, designers, and installers…everyone working on the final canvas. Except the canvas is a car/boat/bike etc.”
Tell me what was it that motivated you to venture out alone and start B-Wrapped…
“Once I was exposed to the Paint is Dead network and started seeing the type of color change wraps that people were doing on exotic cars (not just commercial vehicles), I couldn’t stop looking into solid color wraps, two tone wraps, wrap tools, you name it. I was on the web soaking it all in for at least 2 years…24/7. The more I learned about the industry, the more I wanted to be a part of it.
In 2014 I kept seeing chrome wraps on the internet and decided I HAD to give it a try. It was harder than expected. Chrome vinyl is known as one of the most difficult films to install because it has a metalized layer, but I used my wife’s car as a guinea pig and conquered! Not long after, I took the Avery Dennison wrap class with world-renowned installer Justin Pate. I learned tricks with knifeless tape, wrapping door handles, taking on complex mirrors, Justin’s triangle technique, and how to read wrinkles. My skill set increased dramatically.
Then at the start of 2015, I ventured out to Kansas for the 3M certification at the Lowen Certified Testing Center. Being there helped me think about the details. I learned to pace myself and recheck work 3-4 times.
I have to say that I would never have gotten through the training or certifications if it weren’t for the skilled installers at TKO Graphix. Those guys taught me the ropes and gave me all the techniques I needed to be confident enough to test myself and become the installer I am today.”
You’ve learned and developed A LOT in the past five years. Now you’re a business owner, and you get to promote yourself! So…what makes B-Wrapped unique? Why should people bring their vehicles to you?
We’re good at helping our customers explore and envision their options. I want them to get the most out of the materials they select, whether that’s specialty vinyl, large format prints, or a combination of both. We give every car high-end treatment, whether it’s an exotic or an everyday driver. Plus, we’re also wrapping classic cars, which is something Indianapolis hasn’t had until now!
More and more, we’re becoming known for our paint wraps…taking matte, satin, chrome, and gloss vinyl finishes and completely transforming the look and color of a vehicle.
Alright Brad, you knew this question was coming. Look ahead 5 years…what’s your vision for B-Wrapped?
“Well, I’m a family man, so I’d love it if I can bring my daughter (Jemma), son (Jamison), and wife (Shawna) on board to help me. Ultimately, I’d like to be wrapping a steady stream of high-end cars, but that will come because we’ll keep pumping out top quality work. Beyond that, I’d really like to get B-Wrapped into a more visible location in downtown Indy. People love to see the process of applying the vinyl, so I envision a glass storefront where people can watch us do what we do best!”
Special thanks to Micah Bowers for the article. Check out the original article here:
Check out Micah Bowers’ website: http://www.designmicah.com/