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The Art of Wrapping Utility Boxes

You probably haven’t given a second thought, but chances are you have come across these utility boxes once and went “Why do they do this?” or “How did they do this?”. Well, wonder no more. As a large format printing specialist, Multigraphics has wrapped many utility boxes around the city of Vancouver and today we will briefly explain the hows and whys behind it.


What are Utility Boxes?

Utility boxes are metallic structures installed on street corners and sidewalks, holding all the valuable equipment that keeps our city running smoothly. They help run infrastructure like traffic lights, cable and phone connections, streetlights, transit shelters, electric transformers, and much more. Their respective cities own most utility boxes, however, some are owned and operated by private organizations.

Why do we wrap Utility Boxes with vinyl graphics?

No matter who owns them, there are thousands of them throughout the city. It’s one of those essential infrastructures that you need in public spaces, but don’t want the public to see. So how do you justify erecting them everywhere while avoiding making them an eye sore? Simple. You cover them up. Either by wrapping them in graphics or painting over them.

Of course, there is an option of not doing either, however, without any graphics, utility boxes are just flat, metallic canvas for taggers  to add their graffiti markings. 

Up till the late 2000s, this was a major issue faced by cities around the world. Luckily, around the same time, the vinyl wrap boom was taking place. With better printing technologies and materials, large format printing industry had the solution. Their solution could not only deter taggers from marking on utility boxes, but also allow the owners to virtually place any image on the boxes. This pool of untapped potential led to various benefits that wrapped utility boxes provided over the years since.

Benefits of Wrapping Utility Boxes

  • Provides a platform or an opportunity for local artist (e.g. city of vancouver art call) to showcase their talent in the form of public art.
  • Eliminates or prevent vandalism by disallowing graffiti markings on the boxes (as the graphics are covered with anti-graffiti laminate).
  • Helps beautify the city by creatively merging the metal infrastructures with their surrounding landscapes.
  • The graphics are long lasting (upward of 5+ years) and can easily be replaced, providing an economically feasible solution for the city.
  • Can be a form of major tourist attraction if done right. Having a creative image can lead to the up rise of Instagramers popularizing the art.
  • Fun Fact: Wrapped utility boxes are one of the most popular forms of Pokestops in the popular mobile game Pokemon Go.

How are Utility Box Wraps Produced?

Like most prints, producing utility box graphics go through the following stages:

  1. We visit the site to get precise measurements of the utility boxes and any irregularities that we might encounter during installation.
  2. We draw a rough mockup on paper to go with the order for production.
  3. At Prepress stage, each utility box is subdivided into individual panels in relation to how they will be printed and cut.
  4. This is forwarded to client for final approval before proceeding with the prints.
  5. The graphics are printed on highly durable 3M Conformable Vinyl and laminated with either Gloss or Anti-Graffiti Laminate.
  6. The last step involves the actual installation which will bring all the element of design and mockups together to bring the visual to life.

Custom Printed Box Wraps

Contact Us

Have a question about wrapping a utility box or would like to get a quote? Leave us a message below or call us at +1 604.437.8444.