Last year a local gallery sold one of my large (44″x30″) prints. They’re keen to sell more, it’s what most galleries like doing and so I recently took in some sample images on my tablet to show them a range of images I thought would work in their space. I had a set of 10 images to show which worked either individually or as part of a series of twos or threes. We eventually settled on three; two new images and a reprint of the one that sold. Jolly good … now I need to print them.
For me as a photographer, and as an artist I guess, there is a stage of the process which quietly freaks me out … I’m talking about printing and You, clever reader forearmed with the reading of the post’s title, will no doubt have guessed this already!
A couple of years ago I had my first exhibition. I wanted my pictures to sing, to look as good as they possibly could and so I set about looking for a printer … not a machine … a person … an artist. Someone who understands what to me is a dark art … someone who can take what I have created and take it to another level … namely a wall. I didn’t want a commercial sausage machine with automated calibrations. I was looking for someone who would create something special. I needed to trust them with my work.
When I first visited Stephen, who lives an hour’s drive away in rural New South Wales and saw the tidy cottage which houses his printers and workstation I was quietly impressed. When he showed me the range of papers he collects and started to show me sample prints speak of black levels and colour absorbency and paper saturation levels and the depth of gloss and coatings I thought “He knows his stuff … he certainly knows a lot more than I do…” I quietly nodded. It was when he spoke to me of his theory: that a viewer has two simultaneous reactions to a picture – the first is a response to content or subject, form and balance … the second is a subconscious reaction to the colour and texture of the print itself and it was this subliminal aspect of the print and it’s combination with the structure and form of the image the he strives for in his printing … he got a faraway look in his eyes when as he explained it and I thought “you’re the one” and so I entered a relationship with a printer. You have to trust them … they can make or break your picture. (I’m paraphrasing … he said far more eloquently than that) …
There’s a strict calibration setup for my monitors to ensure that the colour and tones you want are what Stephen will see when the images lands on his display. He understands implicitly how his inkjet printers interpret colour and tone and crafts an individual colour profile for each image to achieve that … it’s what he does and he does it exceptionally well.
When the printing’s complete and the prints delivered I get tense and sometimes I don’t want to unroll them or open the folio case … the images have entered the tangible world … they’re now real things. Real things that people will look at and buy and hang on their walls … I feel a buzz from that mixed with a weird sense of responsibility … one which I hope I never lose.
Eventually of course I do open them and look and pore … and breathe. Prints of this size are a reasonable investment … they represent my investment in my talent as an artist. An acceptance and belief in what I’m doing … trying to do … should be doing. They look fantastic of course … what was I worried about?
I took them to the gallery the other day and we discussed frames and mounts and wall space … I signed them. There, now they truly are mine. Michael, the gallery owner, loved them and the first of the prints goes up on the wall this week. It’s exciting.
Are you printing your pictures large?