NextGen Graphics brings unique signage technology to downtown Niles

Published 12:09 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

NILES — NextGen Graphics is one of the newest businesses in downtown Niles, providing a unique array of options for signage and decoration using techniques and technology both traditional and, as the name implies, of the next generation.

Dave and Rebecca Vandas opened the business from their home in Buchanan in June of 2021, seeking their own personal next wave. The husband and wife moved to Michigan from Chicago in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2021, seeking to escape the city and find a home closer to family. Buchanan represented a middle between his family in northwestern Indiana and her family in Muskegon, Michigan. Also seeking a home to start and build their business, they connected with the downtown Niles community and eventually found a location at 306 E. Main St.

NextGen Graphics provides numerous services, the most famous being the vertical wall printing services witnessed in regular videos on the business’ social media pages. The technology has only been in the United States for a few years, creating the opportunity to decorate homes and businesses in ways previously unavailable.

“The best way to describe it is tattooing the wall,” Dave said.

While wall printing and associated services related to the printers make up the core of their business, they also offer standard signage services, including plaques, banners, vinyl, and rigid signs. They assist in conceptualizing and design work and continue to expand their reach to dressing up anything they can think of, whether it be an interior space, a whiskey bottle, or any other type of decor.

“We want to be that one-stop shop for folks that essentially, whether they want to rebrand, whether they’re just starting their business and want to rebrand, whether they are just trying to bring in some inspiration or good energy into their space,” said Dave.

Rebecca brings a skillset honed in architecture, graphics design, and interior design. She expresses herself creatively in painting and sculpture. Prior to moving to Michigan, she worked for the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. As described by Dave, her background gives her the abilities to take the ideas from clients and turn them into reality. 

Dave, educated as an engineer, handles more of the technical work. He also worked for the University of Chicago and as the Chief Engineer at Northwestern University. He has used his skills creatively in building furniture and professionally doing design, engineering, and operational work for large scale cannabis companies.

NextGen Graphics was born from their desire to take all of those abilities and wrap them into something artistic. As many did during the pandemic, Dave and Rebecca gained a new perspective, realizing the importance of doing work they enjoy, prioritizing creativity, and having more time with their children.

“We’ve always used art, with our kids, in general, as an outlet,” said Dave.

As one of only a small number of operators of the printers in the United States and the exclusive midwest distributor for the machines, they are actively discovering and pushing the limits of the technology. Filling in their own creativity or that of other artists where the abilities of the printers may be restricted, they are seeking new ideas and challenges with each project.

Dave described how embraced they have felt by the Niles community. Their work is already on the walls or in the works to be added to a variety of downtown businesses, including 2nd & Main Coffee, Elevate 24, Underground Laugh Lounge, and Front Street Pizza. They helped the River Essence group create the fish that decorated downtown.

NextGen Graphics is looking forward to their continued growth in 2024, both in their creative and technological offerings and in their place in the community.

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