Clone-Me turns photographs into wall art
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen wide receiver Andrew Papenfus sprinted up field, stopped abruptly to gain some separation from one of Faith Christian’s cornerbacks and jumped to haul in a pass from quarterback Anderson Cole.
The image was a mere footnote in the Skiers’ 26-20, 2A state quarterfinal loss to the Eagles on Nov. 21. Now, thanks to a fledgling valley company, Papenfus’ acrobatic catch can live in perpetuity.
Clone-Me, the brainchild of local personal trainer Curtis Schwab, is giving people the chance to turn photographs into one-of-a-kind wall art – self-adhering, reusable images that range in size from 3 to 7 feet and in price from $59.99 to $149.99.
While the idea is not new – the company Fathead has long offered images of professional athletes and team logos, among others – Schwab said Tuesday that he is endeavoring to develop a different niche.
“That market is not what I’m after,” he added. “Having been a coach for eight years, I know how much parents like this stuff. It became an idea to put kids on their own walls, not Peyton Manning.
“It’s a way for kids to have memories of their school days for as long as they want them.”
A friend from Denver first approached Schwab with the concept a few years ago, he said. After a period of inactivity, Schwab decided to “Do my own thing, and serve it the way I thought best.”
He enlisted the help of a product manufacturer in Alabama, and went to work developing local contacts and reaching out to photographers. (People can also submit their own images.)
Among them was friend Jim Ryan, with whom he used to coach Little League baseball.
“I saw this as my opportunity to resurrect my photography career,” said Ryan, a faux painter who once studied photography at Colorado Mountain College and owned gallery and shop space on Cooper Street. “I love kids and I love shooting the games. … If it’s for kids, people always seem to be into it.”
The reception has been positive since Clone-Me was launched late last year, Ryan said. School booster clubs from Aspen to New Castle have expressed interest.
In the last week, Ryan shot the Basalt High School girls and boys basketball teams. The school is planning to display the images on the walls of the gym for upcoming games, he said.
“We had people jumping off chairs and slam dunking,” Ryan added. “They got to do their fantasy. Mackenzie Buck, we had a shot of her jumping off a chair and screaming. … I said, ‘Wow, that would look really cool on a wall.’
“The possibilities are endless.”
Schwab and Ryan plan to reach out to local karate, gymnastics and dance studios, among others. One man saw a Clone-Me display – a door covered with a 7-foot photo of Papenfus – at a recent game and inquired about having deer and elk images made for his taxidermy shop.
Local interior designers have also explored the possibility of creating custom wallpaper, Ryan and Schwab said.
“Could you imagine your whole wall as the Maroon Bells?” Schwab said. “I also want to do photos of local mountains … and sell those through ski shops.”
“One of my favorite sayings is ‘The only limitation is your imagination,'” Ryan added. “I’ll ask people what they want to do, and then figure out how to do it.”
Schwab admittedly is taking a risk. He is funding the venture with his own money – an unsettling prospect given the state of the current economy.
“I’m hanging out there on the edge,” he said. “Nineteen other companies are doing this, but it hasn’t been marketed very well. … We have to start getting through the schools, advertising in photography magazines and finding photographers who need work.”
He might just have uncovered an idea that could distinguish Clone-Me even further.
“Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I have a plan,” Schwab said. “Ask [your girlfriend] ‘How big of a ring do you want?’ Then, send her a 7-foot one …”
For more information, visit http://www.clone-me.com.
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Basalt went 11-5 in the shortened regular season and finished a mere fourth in the Class 3A Western Slope League behind Moffat County, Gunnison and Delta. Then the Longhorns were the No. 21 seed in regional play that only includes 24 teams, but still shook up the bracket with a pair of big upsets.