Q&A with Vinyl Expert Justin Pate
The Wrap Institute founder shares a bit about himself.
Big Picture: How did you get into the world of vehicle wrapping?
I fell into the wrap world back in 1996 in New York City. My upstairs neighbor in Chinatown was an installer and asked me if I wanted to come work for him. I worked for him for about a year doing all types of installs, like barricades in Rockefeller Center and windows for FAO Schwarz, but it was mostly cargo and minivans for Time Warner that I cut my teeth on. There was something about wrapping a car that just clicked, so I really focused on that.
The first car I ever wrapped by myself was really stressful. At that point, I had always worked with one or two other installers on one car, so doing it solo brought up a lot of doubts: Could I even pull this off? What if I screw this up? Yet, at the end of the day, the wrap was done, and I saw a limitless horizon of possibilities ahead of me.
Big Picture: What’s the biggest difference in the industry today versus the industry back then?
I think there are actually two equally big differences from back in the day until now. First, the material today is much more varied to a specific application, and it’s way easier to install. The material back in the day was super aggressive, so you had to be really on top of your game in order to get a professional quality wrap without it taking days or having to reprint panels.
Second, the information and techniques available today are just night and day from when I started in 1996. Back then, it was literally “figure it out as you go.” Mistake-learn, mistake-learn. Now, it’s “watch a few minutes of video, then get to it.”
Big Picture: If people left your workshops remembering only one thing, what would you want that one thing to be?
I think it would be to never stop learning. This is the slogan of The Wrap Institute, and I really take it to heart. My workshops are constantly changing because I’m always coming up with or picking up new techniques or adding new tools. If you are an installer and think you have learned everything, then you will quickly get passed by.
Big Picture: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever wrapped besides a vehicle?
I have wrapped two floors for artist Mark Dean Veca, and they just had that huge “wow” factor that I only get when wrapping a cool car. To see people walk on a wrap, along with the walls having graphics, just creates the coolest feeling. It just immerses the viewer in the graphic and really creates a satisfying feeling to be the one who helped create that effect.