How Werner created Big Image
The Big Image story begins in 1981. Werner Schäfer, currently owner and member of the board, was working as an industrial photographer in Australia when he first had contact with really large images. It was love at first sight, and not just because the size did so much for the image. Werner also realized the advantages of printing images on fabric and that they do not need to handled with as much caution as when working with easily damaged paper. Images on fabric could also easily be taken down, folded and could be used again and again.
When Werner returned home from Australia he searched out one of the few printing presses in the world used for large image printing. He found it in Liverpool where it was owned by a company that had just started producing large images in Europe. Werner became their general agent for the Scandinavian region. For a period of several years he was the leading sales person for large images in Europe.
Yet he was not satisfied. The images were not high enough quality for him. Large images were an entirely new element in culture and image history and Werner, whose interest in culture was nurtured during his childhood in Berlin, wanted to make the experience even greater.
He decided to purchase his own airbrush printer from the USA. In 1987 he set up shop in an empty factory location in Täby and Big Image was born, known then as ScanaPrint AB. It began with a setback. The printer was an immensely complicated system with many hundred knobs and switches everywhere. He just could not get it to function properly. Give up or keep trying? Over several sleepless nights and without any support he made the decision to invest everything. This led to Werner learning the basics of large image printing technology and also how to develop it. With the help of students from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) he took printing technology a step further in an attempt to create even better images.
The students stayed with the company for more than ten years, which is typical for Big Image. The company has for many years collaborated with many students from the KTH as well as other schools, and many who started working for the company are still with us. The Managing Director, Andreas Skantze, began as an 18 year old computer operator. Werner’s wife, Margrit, and son Tomas, were there for a number of years and their daughters Johanna and Susi currently hold key positions in the family business.
In 1995 Werner founded Big Image’s sister company in Berlin, and in 1998, Big Image moved to its current location, an old aircraft hangar in Täby. Currently the company employs around 60 people combined at both locations and the market continues to grow.
Today, Werner’s role at Big Image is to serve as an inspirational figure, while his daughter Johanna and Managing Director Andreas continue to lead the family vision into the future.
We want to make the world more exciting with large images, and provide even greater experiences for people everywhere.