Wednesday June 10, 2015

The Magelight Print Shop Opens

Fine Art Printing for Durango and the Four-Corners Region

The big fine-art printer has a home again!


"Fenris" is my Epson 9900 fine-art giclée printer.


For most of a year I've been writing code. I've been sitting at my desk day after day, building out tools to help operate a digital media studio.


But my waistline says I'm not as active as I used to be. Sure, I've made at least one trip each month to explore the wild places. But I think back to how my body felt in 2010 and remember I gave up my desk job for a reason. As much as I love this project I'm on, and I do, having nothing fill my time but desk-work each day is a fate I wish on few people.


So! I unpacked the big printer again.

Fenris and his Workshop

My new workshop space in Durango, CO.

My big printer, Fenris, has been sitting under sheets and plastic wrap since I moved to Durango last summer.


He's big, see? And the support resources he needs around him are even bigger: things like work benches, tools for assembling frames, and a spray booth!


Yes, a printer needs a spray booth.


It's easy to buy a nice fine-art printer and hit print. And it's a lot of fun to play with different papers and fiddle with different tone curves in Photoshop. But at the end of the day you're holding a giclée print and that print is easily scratched, stained, and even will fade in the sunlight unless you coat it with a binding agent. Binding agents have to be sprayed. You can do little jobs with little aerosol cans, but when you get a full-size printer like this one you need full-size HVLP spray equipment, and a full-size, dust-proofed, ventilated spray booth to use it in.


Who has a spray booth like that sitting in the corner of their garage?


Well, me, for one. :)


But that level of infrastructure commitment is why I've rented a whole workshop space here in town just to unpack the printer into.


It's nothing fancy, my new print shop. It's just a 20x30-foot concrete-floor room with lots of power outlets and some good ventilation. It came with a little office, a bathroom, and a fridge. I've named the two sides "Digital" where the printer sits, and "Analog" where the carpentry tools are.


It's absolutely perfect.

Some of the first prints since unwrapping the printer.
The wheeled cart I use to move the printer, now a temporary workbench.
TigerPaws, my truck, watches from outside.

What to Print?

So what should I print now?


Well, let's print your art, for one. I love fine-art printing. You should hit me up if I can do some fine-art printing for you!


And let's print my art, too. I want to build some new collections of my work. I just had a showing wrap up and come down (in Seattle) and as I stare at the reclaimed pieces I realize they're all three years old. I've shot a lot of photos since then that I like more.


I also want to evolve my product types, and I'll be printing a lot of my own stuff to do that. I mean, I offer cool stuff like Floating Metal™ and Scroll Mount™ prints. But want to know a secret? There's a custom-built machine I use for making Scroll Mount™ prints, and it didn't survive the trip from Seattle to Durango. So I'm rebuilding that and improving the design. Having my new workshop will let me evolve these products and try out some other new and exciting ideas too.


My love of photographic art doesn't stop when the camera goes click.


Making printed art takes a set of skills all its own. I'm delighted to get back into it.


"Proof" prints of a few recent favorite photos. I stare at the proofs for a few days and think about last little fixes in post-processing, then I go back and re-print onto canvas.