So....How Did We End Up Here?

A lesson learned. I attended my high school reunion in a zoom meeting. Amy, our host, set it up through the college where she teaches. Just as it started, a storm front moved in over her house deep in the Maryland woods and we lost her. Seventy five people on 3 screens, most have not seen each other in decades. The women took over with shout-outs and compliments, the men sat in bemused silence. Then Leslie, with the clearest audio feed, took control and began check-ins. All of our plans for polling questions and break out rooms were out the window. 

My desktop is arranged so there is a wall behind me that I painted years ago by applying 4 layers of translucent colored glazes using a natural sponge. The effect had a painterly softness to it. I learned this technique while painting a blue sky and clouds on the ceiling of my twin daughters’ nursery. I’ve used this aging technique over time, at work and home.

The beige / brown wall behind me was lit by a window and I was in shadow, so I grabbed a small, dimmable LED light panel used for video work and propped it on top of my computer. I adjusted it so I was a little brighter than the background. That’s how I was situated for the 2.5 hour reunion. I didn’t say much. I was more of a people watcher that day

Meanwhile... in the months leading up to the reunion..our clients at Grafaktri Inc. ( an environmental graphic design/build company I had started years ago) were now working from home with construction and marketing projects curtailed. With no slick lobbies to walk through or expansive conference rooms to meet in, our video interactions initially took on a homespun appeal supported by the “we’re all in this together” mantra. The virtual backgrounds were distracting, and as it became obvious that this is now the new normal, I thought my clients / friends needed a better solution. 

Grafaktri (“graphic factory”) has alway been about imagery. Simply put: we’re about helping people and organizations communicate with words and pictures. What began as a fine art silk-screen print studio grew, over time, to a design/build company with a strong digital printing capability. We have a thin fabric-like product for our commercial clients that can be easily applied to walls. What works for giant mall window displays can now easily shine at home. After testing, we decided to offer abstract soft glow images that worked best: they’re honest, not distracting and bring a visual focus to the individual. 

So now Switchfab.com is Grafaktri’s response/pivot to Covid 19. We took the KISS approach: Keep It Simple Shopify: great pricing, 3 sizes, curated offering, and custom design services.  Soon we’ll be offering the best values in lighting and microphones for one stop shopping for those wanting to look their best online.


After the reunion, I got two emails from classmates out of the blue. They both commented how I stood out on the screen. As someone who has spent a lifetime in the back of the room, I was pleasantly surprised. I can now speak from experience: this works.