In our digital age of ephemeral tweets, posts and emails, handwritten thank you notes have become a bit of a lost art. For that reason, they are incredibly impactful and sentimental ways to show customer appreciation. Nothing sounds more dull and impersonal than “thank you for your business.” So remember to keep your messages authentic, specific and individualized. Here are some additional tips and creative ideas:


  1. Include package inserts.

Exceed your customers’ expectations and include a little pleasant surprise with their thank you note. Some examples are discounts/coupons for a future purchase, car decals and stickers, magnets or flyers.


  1. Provide free gifts or samples.

Not only will they delight your customers, free samples allow you to showcase something that the customer hasn’t tried yet. Free gifts like promotional branded items spread brand awareness and add perceived value. Try to personalize the gift or sample for each customer and pick items that complement the purchase.


  1. Create personal connections.

Video helps you stand out in the social media crowd by attracting likes and shares. In fact, 93% of businesses using video report it’s landed them a new customer. With the help of some pretty cool apps, you can create quick and personalized videos to thank your customers and engage them on social media. You can even use a QR code generator to send a barcode for the customer to simply scan and watch your video. Best of all, most of this can be done from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet!

  • Animoto – Create impressive videos in minutes with the drag-and-drop video maker.
  • Bonjoro – Boost customer engagement with perfectly timed personal videos.
  • Vidyard – Increase sales and delight your customer with an online video platform for your business.


Making your customer appreciation memorable is all about the finer details. The Print Refinery helps you create stunning marketing impressions that extend your customer relationships beyond the initial sale. When you lead with an attitude of gratitude, your team, brand and culture reflects it – and loyal customers always follow!



Looking for an easy and cost-effective way to visually enhance your office space? Adhesive vinyl is the hottest trend in wall decor, because it’s beautiful, functional and semi-permanent. The low-tac adhesive allows the vinyl to be repositioned, reused and removed without damaging paint or drywall. Adhesive vinyl works great on glass too and adds visual impact to store-front windows.

Celebrate your company history with engaging installations reflecting your brand story. Create energetic project boards and calendars to motivate your team and push goals forward. Or add instant color and character to a dull office space with a one-of-a-kind masterpiece on a focal wall. With the fantastic variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns, your design possibilities are limitless!

Whether it’s one wall or every wall, The Print Refinery helps you express your company’s voice and create custom, quality solutions that fit your brand communications!

Its Trade Show Season - Are you ready?

Are You Ready For Your Next Trade Show?

Its Trade Show Season - Are you ready?There are over 10,000 trade shows held annually in the US, and standing out in the dense jungle of exhibitor booths is not an easy task. Here are some tips to maximize your visual impact and budget wisely for your next event:

Its Trade Show Season - Are you ready?

  1. Refresh your booth setup. 

Check the condition of your backdrop, signage and furniture. Is it time for a cleaning, refresh or replacement? Avoid the unexpected by practicing your setup prior to the event. Remember any tools you’ll need to unpack, assemble and disassemble your exhibit booth. Getting setup in a timely manner will give you valuable extra time for networking and marketing.

Its Trade Show Season - Are you ready?

  1. Update your marketing materials.

Refine your positioning, features/benefits and pitch. Does your marketing communicate a clear and targeted message? Correct formatting issues, grammatical errors and outdated information. If you need help adding visual appeal to your marketing materials, The Print Refinery is here to make your brand shine!

Its Trade Show Season - Are you ready?

  1. Prepare promotional products. 

Current design trends in branded promotional gifts are: popular retail brands, bright and bold colors and unique materials (like cork, wood grain and matte finishes). Cellphone accessories, insulated drinkware and wellness products are always top choices. A branded tchotchke or trinket that ends up in the trash is a waste of marketing dollars, so think “useful, creative and unique” when selecting promotional items.

From backdrops and signage to business cards and promotional branded items, The Print Refinery can fulfill all your commercial printing needs for your next trade show. So let’s create, collaborate and turn your vision into bold marketing statements!

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests


Did you know that 85% of your potential customers pass by your business each month? If you want to increase sales, you have to drive foot-traffic, and one the most effective ways to do so is with signage. Here is a list of our top 5 commercial sign requests and general guidelines for each:

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests

  1. Outdoor Signage 

Like judging a book by its cover, customers gather first impressions of a business based on its exterior signage and appearance. So make sure your outdoor signs accurately convey the tone and experience you want a guest to expect upon entering your business.

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests

  1. Informational Signage 

Informational signs help guests navigate your business and find what they came in for more easily. They should be self-explanatory and easy to read, so large, bold fonts and highly-visible colors work best.

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests

  1. Persuasive Signage

Persuasive signs influence purchase behavior through convincing language and visual appeal. They can encourage traffic flow to certain areas of the business, create interest in specific products or draw attention to promotions and add-on services.

Top 5 Commercial Sign Requests

  1. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliant Signage 

You want every guest, regardless of disability, to feel welcome and comfortable in your business. So if your business offers wheelchair accessible parking, doors, restrooms or elevators, you should have those accommodations clearly displayed on signs. Also, any permanent interior signs indicating an entrance/exit, stairwells, restrooms and elevators must have Braille and tactile characters and be mounted at specific heights according to ADA compliance and local fire codes.

  1. Mats

Branded mats are perhaps the most versatile type of signage, because they serve a multitude of purposes. They can be marketing messages, directional tools, safety precautions during inclement weather – or just sheer ergonomic relief for retail staff standing on their feet all day!

A well-designed and properly-placed sign can drive traffic, build brand awareness and increase revenue. Remember to be specific and keep it simple, as too many signs or too much information can have the opposite effect. The Print Refinery is your creative partner for all your commercial printing projects. We consult and collaborate with you to design the best commercial signage that fits your specific business needs.

What If I Copy This Anyway?

What If I Copy This Anyway?

You get it. Copying professional photos is illegal. So is speeding. But you do it anyway.

Fair point. And no one at our photo store will stop you from doing either. No really, we won’t stop you from making a copy of a copyrighted photo if you want to. You just can’t do it here. And we can’t do it for you. Doing so could be far more illegal than speeding. A ticket for doing 75 in a 65 will cost you about $225 in Texas. Copying a professional portrait without the photographer’s consent costs about the same, $200… at the least. The penalty can range all the way up to $150,000 per incident. That’s serious.

Copyright law


What if you tell us you took the photo or video? Still no. The original doesn’t even have to be marked with a copyright. The law states that any photo that appears to have been taken professionally is subject to copyright protection.

With such a wide net and stiff penalties, you should be hard pressed to find a business willing to risk infringement just to make a few bucks. So, what can you do?

  1. Check the status. Some of the largest creators of studio content, like church directories, school photography corporations, and tourism agencies like cruise lines and theme parks, have no interest in servicing orders after the event. Many offer blanket copyright releases on their websites.
  2. Contact the photographer. They’re the best source for a top-quality reproduction, especially if they still have original masters. If not, they can give us or another agency consent to make copies legally.
  3. Do it yourself. Provisions allow you to scan or duplicate professional photos and videos using your own methods for personal back up or forward compatibility, like transferring a video tape to MPEG so that you can still view it. Of course, you can’t sell or distribute your new copies. That would be trouble.

For more information, come see us. If we can’t make what you need, we usually know who can. On the way, don’t speed.

Can I copy this?

Can I copy this?

Copyright. It’s the reason you pay $1.95 for a 5×7 of your own snapshot but $19.50 for a 5×7 from the school portrait company. It exists because photographers, like artists, are heavily invested in the content they create and they have a right to recoup their investment and earn a living. How long they should, or even want to hold that right is debatable but here’s what you need to know about the portrait or professional video that you want duplicated.

First you need to acknowledge that the reason you want the thing (the photo, video, or copies of it) is because you like what someone else made. If you made it, you own it and you can do whatever you want with it. If someone else made it, for money, they own it. At least that’s true for everything made since 1978. Before that, YOU own what you paid someone to make, because you commissioned them to do so… if you were alive then. Anything made later is owned by the person who authored it for their entire life plus 70 years! What if they’re retired or dead? You have to prove, reasonably, that neither they, nor anyone else has interest in collecting money by making another copy for you, or that they can’t reasonably be found.

What’s protected?

Only everything. This is a bit of a sore spot because the law is written to be overly broad in favor of artists and content creators. They’re not required to label something as copyrighted in order for it to be copyrighted. It’s in their best interest to mark it, and most do, but the burden is on us, not them. You may know which of your photos were taken professionally but if you don’t, you have to assume that any photo that appears to have been taken professionally, was.


Are there exceptions?

Yes. And remember this blanket protection applies only to things created after 1978. Older photos are owned by whomever holds them right now. After that, you can still own the copyright if:

  1. The photographer has given you a written release, which covers a whole set of content, or a license, which details specific terms of use like which ones, what you can and can’t use them for, and for how long.
  2. You own the negatives or original files. In the case of digital photos, context is key. A large group of consecutive image files with similar sizes, subject matter, and metadata would constitute an original collection, whereas a few scanned images would not.
  3. The photographer was employed by you for a long term and compensated as such. For instance, if someone on your staff photographs products for marketing purposes. In this case content ownership should be covered in an employment contract. Unless otherwise stated, the company owns the work and the photographer can claim authorship for portfolio purposes.

Each case is different. We’re versed in copyright laws as they apply to images so bring yours in if we can help!

How To Download Your Facebook Photo Archive

How To Download Your Facebook Photo Archive

Even if you’re not ‘quitting Facebook,’ it’s a great idea to periodically download your data and take back ownership of your photos and videos.

The process is similar to downloading your Instagram assets but more robust to encompass all the different types of data collected. You can do this on desktop or mobile but the resulting file can be very large file, from 100-200MB for an occasional user to several gigabytes for regular users.



On Mobile:

  1. Click the Settings menu > Settings & Privacy > Privacy Shortcuts.
  2. Under the heading, “Your Facebook Information,” select “Access your information.”
  3. Look for the “download your information” link and check mark the types of data that you want to harvest.

On Desktop:

  1. Click the small blue arrow to reveal the menu.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Then click My Facebook Information in the left column and look for the Download Your Information heading in the right column.
  4. Check mark the categories you’d like
  5. Click Create File.
  6. Once the file is ready you’ll come back to this same location to download it.

A couple of caveats to consider. First, Facebook hasn’t always saved full-resolution versions of the photos you upload so while your downloaded collection might make for a handsome album, you shouldn’t consider it the master collection. Copies of the same images saved offline will usually be higher quality.

Second, you’ll notice that filenames are randomized and the file creation date will be the day you downloaded them. Other metadata, like location, may also have been stripped in the storage and download process. On the bright side, comments and other activity are still nearby in accompanying folders. Keeping this structure in tact is a good idea if you plan to upload this archive to any other services to make books or videos from your Facebook archives.

The real fun begins when bring your new Facebook archive to us. You’ll be amazed what we can make IRL!

How To Download Your Instagram Photo Archive

How to Download Your Instagram Photo Archive

You may never have expected your Instagram account to be such a valued keeper of memories. Intended or not, it could be home to many of your best shots and thoughts. So, what if you want them back? The method is pretty simple. And periodically archiving your digital activity is a good practice to keep even you’re not planning to jump ship.

Instagram provides a tool that takes care of all the heavy lifting and emails the results to you.

You can start the process from mobile or desktop by navigating to the settings (gear) icon in your account. Here’s a shortcut

Once there, enter the email address associated with the account that you’d like archived. It doesn’t have to be the account that you’re logged into but you’ll need the password for the specified account next.

That’s it! Allow up to 48 hours for Instagram servers to process your request and watch for an email containing the download link. Most users receive it within the hour. Just don’t miss it, because you only have four days to download the archive before the link expires, and you can only access it via the link in the email, not through your account settings.

After downloading, extract the .zip file and you’ll find your photos and videos sorted by month.

Because Instagram is photo-centric, it’s the best platform to start with, but the process for Facebook and Google is similar.


Don’t Forget to Name Your Digital Photos

Let’s talk about metadata, a word that may stir a sense of uncertainty and fear in you if you’ve never heard it before or if technology isn’t your strongest suit. Metadata refers to the properties of an image — things like file size, format, the date the photo was taken and the name automatically given to the photo, such as IMG_9876 or JPG-2839. Although metadata is an incredibly valuable component in today’s information age, leaving our photos with these unidentifiable names leaves many of us drowning in a sea of thousands of photos with no way to locate specific memories. Let’s take a look at one piece of metadata: the file name.


Why name your photos. Twenty years ago, you or your parents may have picked up photos from a local photo lab and simply written the basics on the back of the prints: the date, location, who is in the photo and what’s going on.

Today, we don’t give our photos this type of attention. Instead, we may think about doing something with them only when our phones run out of memory and prompt us to make more room by exporting the photos to other storage devices. Years of this saving go by, and then we find ourselves in the unforgiving sea of unnamed images.

Using metadata and a consistent file renaming pattern increases the “searchability,” of your images. If you want to be able to quickly find your images, it’s important to start renaming your files now. Otherwise, a decade from now when you’re looking for a photo of your daughter’s first day of school to post on her graduation day, you might be wanting to pull your hair out as you try to locate it.

Consistency is key. First, professional photo organizers recommend using a consistent system when it comes to renaming files. This will tie your entire collection together, despite the years that may separate certain pictures. Professional organizers also encourage you to find a system and style of renaming photos that will work best for you. Feel free to make variations on the following suggestion, but whatever naming convention you pick, be consistent.

Who, what, when and where naming approach. This naming system — who, what, when and where — has proved to be the most popular with professionals. For this system, you’ll include people, event, date and location in the file’s name. An easy reference to remember this organizational tool is: YYYY-MM-DD-location-event-who-sequence number. For example, a birthday party for your mom, Susan Smith, in San Francisco on May 23 would look like this: 2017-05-23-san-francisco-birthday-party-mom-susan-smith-JPG-2839.

When you are naming files, avoid special characters except for hyphens and underscores.

Once you have named individual files, you can put images in folders. Professional organizers have found that the simplest way is to organize by year, and you always have the option to further consolidate by decade. You can also create folders for specific people, such as your kids, or events, such as vacations and sports matches.

Where to find missing details. If you are unable to recall the specifics of a photo, refer to the metadata. All you have to do is right-click the photo, and then click on the option that says “get info” or “properties” to view the file’s metadata. This will reveal the date the image was created, which is vital for the above photo renaming system. But, you’ll also find the file size, the name of the device that took the image and sometimes even the location.

Why do this now. The work may seem tedious at first, but consider the even more daunting task of trying to find a specific image years from now if your photos aren’t organized. This is why photo naming matters! Start renaming your photos, and in the future, your family members will also be able to easily locate photos to share with their loved ones.





Bio: Cathi Nelson, author of Photo Organizing Made Easy; Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, is the founder of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers), a membership organization dedicated to helping thousands of entrepreneurs from around the globe build successful photo preservation and organizing businesses.

6 Steps For Organizing Your Shoebox of Photos

6 Steps For Organizing Your Shoebox of Photos

We all have those lonely shoeboxes of photos and negatives that weigh on our mind every time we open our closet doors. Tackling the contents of those boxes can seem daunting at best and insurmountable at worst. But don’t despair. Here are six tips that can help you sort through your photos and give yourself some organizational peace of mind.


1. Don’t be afraid of the trash bag. That family trip to the Grand Canyon was amazing, but do you really need a hundred photos of the Grand Canyon itself? The answer is no. Those multiple scenery shots, while beautiful, don’t tell the story any better than just one can. My general rule is to eliminate 80 percent of the photos in a box, keeping the other 20 percent for albums. Don’t worry, the Grand Canyon will be around for a long time. I promise that no one will forget what it looks like.


 2. Organize by theme.A lot of people think they need to organize their photos chronologically. For some, this method works very well. For others, however, this is a daunting and overwhelming task. It’s often easier — and more effective — to organize by theme. Organizing by theme makes it much simpler to pull together an album. Themes are also easier to identify than dates. While you may not be sure which year that Christmas photo was taken, you definitely know that it’s Christmas.


3. Pace yourself. As hard as it is, you need to strike a fine balance between lingering too long on precious memories and pushing yourself to go too fast. For the former, give yourself two seconds per photo — and only two seconds — to reminisce before deciding where that photo belongs.

Also, set a timer for one to three hours, and be sure to give yourself time to recuperate between sorting sessions.


4. Create a family timeline. Preparing a photo timeline aids in the sorting process as you begin to tackle your collection. I suggest creating a chronological list of events that will help you as you begin uncovering photos, letters, cards and newspapers from the past. By placing them along a single timeline, you’ll start to get a more comprehensive view of your life, even if you don’t know exact dates. A guesstimate will do and will keep you moving forward.

Your timeline can be as simple as drawing a horizontal line across the middle of a piece of paper and adding vertical lines to mark and label events. As you look at the entire collection of photos, determine the oldest photo and the most recent one. This is the time span you’ll plot on your line. Once you have these major markers in place, you can begin to jot other moments or milestones in between.



5. Store your photos safely. Once your photos have been sorted, it’s imperative that you store them correctly. This means putting them somewhere with average temperatures and low humidity — no attics or basements. They should also be stored in containers designed specifically for photo archiving. One reliable source for these is Archival Methods. It offers a variety of acid-free boxes that will preserve your precious memories for decades to come.


6.Get ready to be emotional. The gift of photography is being able to look back on our lives and reflect on the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. The story your photographs tell is one of joy and love, loss and heartache. Ultimately, going through your photos can be a journey of healing. Allow yourself to feel these emotions. It can be extremely helpful to journal how you’re feeling during the process and, if possible, connect with friends and family to discuss the wave of emotions you’re riding.

Organizing your shoebox of photos can feel like an impossible task, but don’t lose sight of the fact that this is important and meaningful work. You are the keeper of your family’s memories and the teller of its stories.



Bio: Cathi Nelson, author of Photo Organizing Made Easy; Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, is the founder of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers), a membership organization dedicated to helping thousands of entrepreneurs from around the globe build successful photo preservation and organizing businesses.