Printer Challenge: Reproduce the 30-foot Painting, African Menagerie

Last fall, Christopher Glassman, general partner at Casual Graphics in Hays, Kan., got a call to reproduce an enormous painting by Brian Jarvi titled “African Menagerie.” The painting, which captures 210 species living in Africa now, was 17 years in the making. It’s been part of a traveling exhibit and Jarvi wanted a more manageable version for smaller venues, as well as prints for reproductions, books and other uses that might come up.

“Chris is the consummate professional,” Jarvi says. “We were very fortunate to have somebody right there who was so skilled. The reproduction is probably superior to anything we’ve had done prior, and with that said, the Menagerie was probably the greatest challenge, as well.”

We caught up with Glassman to ask him about the project and how they pulled it off:

Q. How did you get involved with Brian’s project?

Casual Graphics prints a reproduction of Brian Jarvi’s work on a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer.

In late October, I received a call from Gregory Walters, Exhibits Manager at Fort Hays State University’s Sternberg Museum of Natural History inquiring about the possibility of capturing the painting that they presently were exhibiting. Brian needed it commercially captured for books being developed and for possible reproduction at full scale. It’s a large piece consisting of seven panels with the largest measuring 5-foot-by-10-foot. I love challenges and this would definitely fit into that category, so I was excited for the opportunity.

Q. What all did the project entail for Casual Graphics?

The project required our capture studio, print and finishing services. After the prints were completed, we mailed them to Brian for final stretching and mounting for display. Due to the size, mailing the prints in a tube was more economical, and then he could have a local framer stretch them.

Q. How did you capture the images for printing? 

Each panel was removed on location at FHSU Sternberg Museum of Natural History from the cabinet that was built to house them, and then brought one by one to our capture studio. I scanned the images using a Phase One Power Phase FX II scanning back. After years of experimenting, we decided to make the investment into the Power Phase. Prior to this acquisition, we had scanned artwork with a Epson 12-inch-by-18-inch flatbed in pieces and stitched them, which yielded good results, but the time it took was not cost-effective.

The original painting is lit in Casual Graphics scanning room.

Believe it or not, I’ve scanned 4-foot-by-8-foot pieces on the Epson, and you would never know it. Process was and still is a big player with any project to attain good results. Point-and-shoot cameras have come a long way and do a wonderful job on small pieces, but the Power Phase, even though it’s an older technology, continues to produce and hold its own even today with emphasis on larger pieces. It took approximately 110 hours to complete the project.

Q. Why did you choose LexJet Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas

I reached out to Dave Grotkiewicz, our sales representative at LexJet, for some advice and feedback on our project before making the final decision. Initially, we discussed Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas but the Wilhelm Archival Quality Standard outweighed all other factors. The archival qualities, coupled with one of the brightest white points for a natural OBA-free canvas, proved to be a good match up for Brian’s needs.

Q. Did you coat the canvas?

Coating was an important step in the process, and we chose LexJet’s Sunset Satin Coating, which has the perfect sheen and UV inhibitors the project demanded. Application was done using a HPLV paint spray gun. We honestly use this coating on most all of our canvas prints.

Q. Which printer did you use for this project?

Though latex is becoming more popular for its print-and-go characteristics, we chose our newly purchased Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 due to its large color gamut and LUCIA PRO inks, not to mention image quality. The Canon line of iPF printer series has served us well since out first purchase in 2007. I believe that we were one of the first Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 purchasers from LexJet.

Prints on LexJet Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas.

Q. Where will the final prints be displayed? 

I believe that Brian is using them for art shows and resale opportunities. Also, some potential tour venues might be too small to host the original presentation, which is roughly 14-feet-by-32-feet, so a reduced reproduction would fulfill those needs. We’re in the process of making smaller prints for our own showroom and to address the interest from local patrons wanting to purchase and also help educate on the challenges in Africa.

Q. What do you think people will come away with once they hear Brian’s story and see the prints?

That would depend on your interests. If it’s the plight of the animals and plants of Africa, then Brian’s project surely puts a spotlight on it. I learned quite a few things from Brian as we discussed the evolution of this project and the trips he took to Africa over the course of 25 years. One being the indigenous people continue to hunt and eat the animals that I thought were mainly being hunted for profit or sport. How can you blame a person that is hungry to stop eating what is and has been one of their primary food sources for millennia? Hopefully, the collective powers will be wise enough to address all hunger issues and protect our planet with its many rich resources for future generations to come.

Casual Graphics’ finished pieces on display at a SCI trade show in Las Vegas. Jarvi reports that this reproduction was sold.

Now, if it’s the process of reproducing a work like Brian’s, then maybe it’s just the simple fact that it is possible. You don’t have to be the biggest production house in the world with a million dollars of equipment. Nor do you have to be located in a metropolitan area. Opportunity will find you if your focus is on superior quality and service coupled with the gained knowledge and experience from every project.

I suggest to reach out like I did and still do, ask questions about something you don’t fully understand. Read, read, read — this is something that is your biggest tool to learning anything from the ground up, and I believe is not appreciated these days due to YouTube video training and quick opinions on blogs, which can help, but, many times, I found is filled with what I call half-baked knowledge. So vet your sources and make sure you are being educated with good information, for which LexJet is a great resource.

Q. How did Casual Graphics get started?

Casual Graphics was created by me and my brother, Mark Glassman, in 1991. We opened Jan. 1, 1992 in Hays, Kansas. We grew up in Hays and graduated from Fort Hays State University (FHSU), a local university. A vision of the digital revolution sparked us and that, in itself, was enough reason to attempt to ride the wave of designing and printing technologies to this day.

Looking for Digital Décor Materials? Download This!

So you’re expanding your services to include more digital décor options for your customers, but you need guidance on the best materials to print to. We’ve got you covered, whether you’re printing with aqueous, latex, eco-solvent, UV-curable or dye-sublimation technology.

At LexJet, we’ve got more than 100 materials for you to choose from in a variety of finishes, including media and substrates for wall art, wallcovering, window treatments, fabrics, upholstery and accessories. With these options, you can decorate nearly all of the objects and surfaces in a room, office, retail space or commercial facility with digitally printed graphics and images.

With digital technology, you can make fully customized décor pieces that your customers will cherish. To discover LexJet’s line of digital décor materials, please download our Digital Décor Printing Line Card.

To discover more ways to incorporate digital décor printing into your operation, call a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538.

Fundy Designer Software Now Available at LexJet

LexJet is excited to announce a partnership with Fundy Designer Software. With more people turning to local print service providers to transform their amateur photographs into artistic masterpieces, Fundy software helps PSPs with photo editing and designing layouts, providing new and easy ways to build revenue with this growing trend.

This design suite simplifies the process of choosing the right image for the right space by visualizing images on virtual walls. Fundy can also be used to organize photo albums and arrange presentations for proofing. It opens the door for PSPs to delve into new – and often overlooked – markets.

Fundy Designer Software allows you to streamline sales and increase profits on wall art that practically sells itself:

  • Present beautiful wall art your clients will love
  • Design collections in a stock room or import a client’s room
  • Preview canvases, metal panels and frames
  • Create your own collections in a few clicks

In the coming months, additional tools will be added to the Fundy suite of products, giving printers more options within the décor market.

If you are attending WPPI in Las Vegas, Feb. 26-28, we will have live demonstrations of Fundy, as well as the opportunity to get a copy of Fundy Lite for free. Stop by booth #233 at the show or contact your LexJet sales rep at 800-453-9538 for more details.

Guest Blog: Photographing for Wide Format and Beyond

Guest blog by Billy Elkins

As a professional photographer, I am called some days to make images of products that will be used in an online catalog. Other days I am asked to make images that will span 80 feet long by 20 feet high. Of course, there are all those other sizes that fall somewhere in the middle.

Billy Elkins

How do I jump from one to the other? How do I ensure that the images I create can be used within that vast size range? And what are some simple tips to make this possible?

As a photographer who has clients with varying image size requirements, it can be overwhelming trying to decide what settings and sizes to capture my images. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that I capture with the largest size I can within my camera. Inevitably, the one time you decide to capture using a smaller setting, the client will ask for the image that was supposed to be on their mail-out postcard to be used on the company’s new vehicle wrap. Making images large to begin with, I can provide anything smaller later, or larger later depending on their needs.

All printers have specifications for the type of printing they provide. Traditional off-set printers prefer images to be 300dpi at 100% of the printed image size. Wide-format printers have a range of resolutions that they work with depending on the viewing distance of the final print or installation. Again, they may say they prefer images to be 150dpi at 100% of the printed size (for posters or large photo displays) all the way down to 50dpi at 100% of the print size (for vehicle wraps, wall installations or billboards). It is important to understand that having just one part of that equation is not enough information.

Communication is key. And that is the most important tip I can offer. Asking the client about all the uses that the image will have and talking directly with the printer who will be providing final prints allows me to capture exactly what I need. If I know there is a possibility that an image will be used larger than traditional printing, I will approach the photography differently. I will not only bracket (capture varying exposures of an image), but I will also create overlapping images, almost like a panorama, so that I have much more resolution to allow for enlargement of the image. Knowing the final output and use, the final size, and the preferred resolution requirements ahead of time, I can be sure to capture everything I need in the beginning.

I will be talking in more detail, providing real working job scenarios for wide-format printing and the whole process from: communication, to image capture, to post-processing, to printing and installation in upcoming articles. If you have a specific question or other topics related to photography and wide-format printing that you would like help solving, please let me know and I will do my best to help.

Wide Format Photography Tips

  • Before even grabbing your camera, ask your client how large will your image need to be and for what type of application it will be used.
  • Talk to the printer to find out what resolution and file format they prefer.
  • Create mockups whenever possible so that you and your client and the printer are all on the same page.
  • When actually doing the shoot, be sure to over-shoot so that you have plenty of images to choose from especially when you are overlapping to create the largest possible file/image you can.
  • Send proofs to client as soon as possible in case you need to reshoot.

Visit Us at WPPI in Las Vegas; Get a Free Expo Pass

Heading to Las Vegas for WPPI, Feb. 26 – 28? If so, click HERE to claim your free passes, courtesy of LexJet and be sure to visit us at Booth #233 during the Expo.

When you stop by our booth, meet Roberto Venezuela, award-winning photographer and member of the Canon Explorer of Light program and see his world-renowned work. Venezuela and LexJet are partnering up for a contest where one lucky person will walk away a big winner simply by taking a picture! Stop by Booth #233 for all the details.

We also will have Canon PRO-Series printer and Fundy Design Software demonstrations to show how these tools can help you increase your profitability and offer unique applications to your clients.

Additional products on display include:

If you are interested in learning about Canon printers prior to the expo, you can attend the Canon PRO-Series webinar on Feb. 15 and receive additional savings on your printer purchase. LexJet technical director Michael Clementi be at WPPI to answer questions regarding the benefits of in-house printing.

Don’t forget to ask about our show specials on select LexJet Sunset media and how you can get a free copy of Fundy Software. We look forward to seeing you at the show!

What You Need to Know Now About Digitally Printed Fabric

It’s nearly impossible to work in the print industry and not have heard about the expanding interest in digital textiles. Although digitally printed fabrics make up only 2% of the entire textile marketing, it’s a fast-growing technology. It’s expected to grow from a $14.2 billion industry in 2016 to a $33.4 billion industry by 2021, according to Keypoint Intelligence.

That’s more than doubling the opportunity in five short years. And it could grow even more, with big players like Amazon and Home Depot both entering the textile game in 2018.

As a print service provider, what does that mean to you? More material options with ever-advancing technology, more solutions to offer to your customers and more ways to grow your business. Here are four key points to know now about digitally printed fabric in the wide-format market.