Prints That Win: Solitary Journey

Plano, Texas photographer Brooke Kasper jumped into photography in the most unusual way. With a background in painting, she was spending her days working as a graphic artist. That is until her mother died. “I quit cold turkey and picked up a camera. It will be 15 years on Dec. 4,” Kasper says. “To heal, I went out and shot everything I could with the camera. It was an inauspicious start to a photography career.”

Her work often conveys a heavy message through symbolism and the somber technique known as low-key photography. “I use ropes a lot in my imagery,” Kasper says. “They represent the ties that bind.”

Kasper’s photograph “Solitary Journey” won the Southwest PPA District and placed 3rd in the National competition held this summer. Her award-winning image is rife with symbolism. “We all have our own personal stories, and this one represents how I’m charting my course,” she says. “We may feel abandoned and alone at times, but we are surrounded by so many wonderful memories of people and things that have given us strength, even in solitude.”

Kasper adds personal and tangible items to her photoshoots. “If it’s not on the set, it doesn’t get added,” she says. “The lantern is in the center and represents God, who is an important light at the center of my life. My mother’s picture is also in it, as are other things that are important to me.”

Studying the image closely, the story begins to unfold of just how lonely the journey of life can be. “Above my mom’s photo is her old bible and a compass that is pointing to true north, which is what God represents to me,” Kasper says. “Then you have the ropes. I put in the mouse as an homage to my husband. There’s another lantern but the light is out. There’s only one light that guides me ever since my mom died.”

Many photographers may find it unnerving to enter such a personal piece into a competition. For Kasper, it was about healing and finding peace. “You can’t always verbalize your woes, but you can find an outlet, and that’s what I’ve done,” she says. “The greatest honor is when someone wants to know the story behind the image, and they are moved when they see it. If I’ve reached someone, what better compliment is there?”

Jumping into photography like she did, Kasper relies on the Dallas PPA and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), as well as her mentors for support and guidance. Her merits and degrees include Certified Professional Photographer (CPP), Master of Photography, and Photographic Craftsman.

Through it all, she’s been inspired by – and learned from – David Edmondson. “David is a good friend and one of the most phenomenal people, inside and out. He has taught me how to be an artist and keep those characteristics in my life. That’s the most important thing to me,” she says. “There were times when I wanted to quit, but David is the one who encouraged me to go on. We share a strong faith and it means so much to know he has my back.”

Kasper is adamant that all photos should be physical, not just an image on a computer screen. “I don’t think it’s really completed until you print it,” she says. For her low-key images, Kasper prefers a satin photo paper, like Sunset Photo eSatin 300g, to ensure the fine details are captured with every print.

The popularity of local, state and national PPA competitions isn’t slowing down and Kasper believes that is because photographers are pushed to be better. “You have to keep moving forward, keep reinventing yourself. If you’re not getting better, you’re stagnant.”

Real Color Design Partners with EPSON for Marvel-ous Results

Real Color Design, in Torrance, Calif., has been printing fine art reproductions for years. In 2008, it became an authorized print house for Warner Brothers Studios and they also hold the licenses to print images for Marvel, DC and other well-known studios in California. “Ninety percent of what we do today is related to the studios. Our customers are licensed with Marvel, WB, DC Comics, Dynamite studio,” says print manager, Alex Costa.

With a customer base like that, there is no margin for error. To meet the demands of qualifying as an authorized print resource, Costa and his team work with a fleet of EPSON printers. “We’ve been with Epson since the beginning,” he says. “Currently, we use the SureColor F6200 (dye-sub), SureColor S80600 (solvent) and SureColor P10000 (aqueous) and on occasion, we still use our old 9880.”

Given the wide breadth of Epson technology available, Costa and his team can offer diverse prints to their customers. “We do archival fine art on Hahnemühle, Sunset Velvet Rag and canvas, for dye-sub, we do aluminum prints on Chromaluxe as well as wood and sometimes fabric,” he says.

One of Real Color Designs’ largest customers is Sideshow Collectables. When they got their license to print, they realized right away that they couldn’t just use any printer, they had to find an authorized resource. “They came and met with us, and we helped them build from nothing to getting their print program up and running,” Costa says. “From mock-ups to introducing them to new materials, we’re there with them from conception to design to print.”

It’s that partnership with their customers that has helped Real Color Designs work with some of the most renowned high-end art gallery and collectibles companies around the world. “We were approached by Castle Fine Art, a gallery that is part of a major chain of over 50 galleries in the UK and Europe, that includes Halcyon Gallery which displays great artists like Picasso,” he says.

Relationship building and delivering results has helped Costa and the team create a name for themselves in an industry that demands perfection. “When Castle came to us, they said, ‘We want to start working with you because we’ve seen your work with Marvel.’ We are getting into the high, high-end fine art,” he says. “Right now, we are working with artist Domingo Zapata. They’re going to release a whole new line of prints and we’re working with them the same way we do with Sideshow.”

Costa says that they treat their customers the way they are treated by LexJet. “We see the customer as a partner, the way LexJet has worked with us since we started our business relationship in 2011. Stuart Haddow [LexJet sales specialist] sees us as a partner and tries to work stuff out, figure out our needs.”

The partnership relies on trust. Costa puts his trust in EPSON because he knows the quality that his customers and licensees demand. He puts his trust in LexJet to work with him on existing products and help him find new products that will excite his customers. His customers put their trust in him to create high-end art pieces that look like they stepped right off of a movie set or just out of a comic book.

LexJet brandUP: Wheels Up at Suncoast Jeep Festival

In the LexJet brandUP tradition, we supported a community event with wide-format printing and dye-sub transferred graphics of all types to highlight event activities and direct foot — and vehicle — traffic for the second annual Suncoast Jeep Festival at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Fla. (Watch the video above to see all the activity and printed projects.)

The Festival is a gathering of Jeep lovers from all around Florida who convene for two days of fun that includes obstacle courses, relay games, kids mini-Jeep courses, a Tug-O-Jeep competition, food trucks and a vendor area with Jeep styling options to trick-out your ride.

Even though there’s a saying that Jeep stands for “Just Empty Every Pocket,” somewhere between the lift kits, bumpers, lights, winches and other modification options, these folks were digging deep to help charities, too. A major purpose for the event was supporting organizations focused on mental health, first responders, veterans and children in need.

“The Festival is a gathering of vendors and community and enthusiasts to raise money for charities,” says Billy Elkins, the Festival co-director and designer for this year’s event graphics. “We decided this year that we were going to take it up a notch across the board. We got a lot of new activities and we also wanted to step-up all of our signage and take advantage of all the stuff that’s available to us in the graphic world today.”

That stuff includes things like panoRama Walk & Wall textured self-adhesive material that marked the finish line for the Tug-O-Jeep competition; HP Print & Cut and HP Adhesive Vinyl for event decals and mini-Jeep graphics; and Fisher Textiles for outdoor flags in the Jeepers Midway.

“This was a highly branded event, and we wanted to take it to the next level, and we were able to do that with all of the graphics we had,” Elkins says.

Visit Suncoast Jeep Festival to learn more, or call a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538 to learn how LexJet products can enhance your next event.

Bringing Children’s Books to Life with Wall Decals

A few years ago, John Etienne wanted to do something different with children’s activity books, so he started brainstorming to come up with different themes.

“As an illustrator, I thought it would be nice to have educational wall decals,” he says. “I wanted them to have activity and coloring books, but I also wanted them to have wall decals that matched the books.”

Today, he runs Wall Adventure, an online business that offers activity books with matching fabric wall decals. “I do the illustrations for the books and then I print the decals in-house,” Etienne says. “I started in 2017 and had to learn how to use the printer and cutter and find the right fabric.”

Since he started the project as a freelancer, he had a lot of questions and turned to LexJet for help. “I use the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-Series 4000S and LexJet Print-n-Stick Fabric,” he says. “The printer is easy to use. I got all the information I needed from LexJet, including ICC profiles.”

The reviews are in. “My customers love the products. The colors on the fabric are bright. The combination of printer and fabric is working well,” he says. Using the right printer and material is important. “I use a Graphtec cutter and I was having issues getting a clean edge when I cut and trimmed the product. That’s when I started using the Print-n-Stick.”

Currently, his products are only available online, but Etienne plans to attend conventions in the future. “I want to get the word out and get more exposure,” he says. “It started with some brainstorming a few years back and now, and one day I will be doing my first convention.”

From concept to reality, Etienne is creating interactive adventures for children around the world and he is glad that Canon and LexJet are along for the ride. “I can get the information I need, or someone will direct me on where to find it on the website,” he says. “They are always very helpful.”

 

HP Adhesive Vinyl: ‘The Colors are Amazing’

About a year ago, William Roll opened a Signarama franchise in Dothan, Ala., and he’s been growing ever since. Working with an HP Latex 365, Roll and his team create vinyl signs, car wraps, box trucks, yard signs, etc. As a franchisee, Roll was given a pallet of a variety of adhesive vinyl products to kickstart his business. “Those products made things difficult,” he says. “We were redoing jobs over and over.”

Roll reached out to his LexJet sales specialist to see if he could help find a solution. That’s when he first heard about HP Prime Matte Air GP and the Matte and Gloss laminates. “We got a sample roll and did some color calibrations on it,” he says. “The colors are amazing, and it makes us look good. It’s important for a new shop to work with good products.”

The versatility of the product has also helped Roll keep his expenses down, another key to success for a new shop. “We use it for yard signs now because it’s cheaper. I can have the guys use the Graphtec and cut a square, adhere it straight to the yard sign,” he says. “You don’t have to lay it out, face tape it or anything else. It saves time and makes the project more cost-effective.”

While he has a rack full of vinyl, he narrows the selection to just a few products. “We use HP almost exclusively. I have two types of perforated vinyl and we use Avery 1105 for car wraps, but the rest is HP,” Roll says. “If it’s not backlit, we’re going to use it first.”

The wide color gamut is important to Roll and his customers, but another reason he and the team enjoy working with HP vinyl products is because they are easy to install. “We do our own installations. This stuff is the easiest stuff to lay down. It’s probably got the best air-release out of all the products we use,” he says. “The learning curve with HP is excellent.”

Roll had a project in the winter when conditions were less than ideal, and the HP products installed easily. “It was extremely cold, and our guys were on a lift 20 feet in the air. We were afraid it wasn’t going to stick because it was freezing, but we got it done,” he says. “It still looks amazing today.”

Whether creating yard signs, menu boards and food trucks or decorating his store for Christmas, Roll has discovered the versatility of the HP Adhesive Vinyl line keep his customers happy. “It doesn’t matter how cheap a product is, if your customers aren’t happy, it’s expensive. Our customers love the results when we use HP.”

For more information on HP Adhesive Vinyl products, call a LexJet sales specialist at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.

Sunset Photo Metallic Paper Beats Aluminum for Gallery Exhibit

When Hollywood director Blair Hayes curated his movie-site images for a new exhibit, Light of Future Past, he set out to print them on brushed aluminum for a sleek, modern look. However, when he sent a few sample prints to the Shafer Art Gallery, at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan., where they would be displayed, the gallery struggled with lighting the images.

Using overhead spot track lighting, the light bounced off the aluminum and muddied the colors. “Blair uses dramatic contrast. The backgrounds are almost a coal black with one spot or source of illumination in that photograph,” said Dave Barnes, Shafer Art Gallery Director. “The brushed aluminum made the situation worse.”

Click images to enlarge

After trying different placements, and even hanging the prints on a diagonal to get the light angles right, the gallery staff was at a loss. That’s when they turned to Chris Glassman, general partner at Casual Graphics.

“I explained that the direction of the print negates the illumination, due to the direction of the brushed surface,” Glassman says. “I suggested using LexJet’s Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, due to its large color gamut and outstanding ability to illuminate. Also, we found that laminating the printed pieces accentuates the unique characteristics of the media by seemingly magnifying the light coming in, reflecting a more saturated color experience.”

Glassman had similar luck when producing 6-foot-tall prints of neon-accented bugs on black backgrounds, which were printed on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g and finished with a gloss coating.

“When a customer has a piece that demands bright saturated colors, [the Sunset Metallic] is our go-to product,” he says. “Dave stated to me that if it weren’t for Casual Graphics, the show would not have happened due to the lighting issues, and in turn, I must state that if it wasn’t for the LexJet media, I wouldn’t have been able to provide them with a cost-effective alternative solution to aluminum prints.”

Hayes has directed commercials, television and movies, including the cult classic, Bubble Boy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. His dramatic images were captured mostly during location scouting, and Barnes and he connected through a mutual friend, which led to the exhibit, which runs through the last week of October.

“I’m fortunate enough, being a director, I get to go all over the world – and mostly America – and get exposed to things that one might think are just ordinary objects, but when I see them with my eye for the first time, I can’t help but – I find them fascinating,” Hayes says. “My work is very Americana. … I love our country, the people who make up our country and what it’s all about.”

Hayes was hoping to create images as well as an experience for the viewers: “With the metallic paper, as you move past the photograph, side to side, things start to reveal in the shadows.” He said it was a similar experience with the brushed aluminum, but the gallery lighting deadened the effect. The Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, however, was simply a “more practical and equally effective way to show off the photographs,” he says.

When printing Hayes’ work, Glassman used his Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-Series 6000 to ace the job. “Interestingly enough, some of Mr. Hayes’ photos had subtle tonal ranges in the darks, and this media improved and distinguished those incredibly well. The gloss laminate helped take it a step further, which was a happy surprise.

To achieve a specific desired printed look, Glassman emphasizes that color profiling is a must, regardless of the printer or media choices. “Profile your printer with your chosen media and calibrate when critical jobs arise, or when the appropriate amount of usage has occurred on your printer, and also if you have a hardware change, like printhead replacement,” he says.

To learn more about applications using Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, or if you need profiling assistance, call a LexJet print specialist at 800-453-9538.

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Artist Brian Jarvi

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

Last year, we featured another print project by Glassman and his team at Casual Graphics. He reproduced a giant painting by artist Brian Jarvi titled “African Menagerie.” The painting captured 210 species living in Africa now, and was 17 years in the making.

Glassman reports that the original painting is currently for sale, valued at $6 million, and Glassman’s reproduction is now hanging in a castle in Switzerland. Jarvis is heading back to Africa for more research and public awareness.