2018 International Print Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to the 2018 International Print Competition winners. In August, 26 District PPA Sunset Print Award winners vied for the coveted top spot, when the judging was finished, the winners were announced:

1st Place: Leaving with Dignity – Kimberly J. Smith

2nd Place: From the Ashes – Dawn Muncy

3rd Place: Heaven’s Hands of Hope – Brian Castle

There’s always such creative diversity in the Sunset Print Award winners and 2018 was no exception. From a snowy landscape in Winter Pastel to a canine Gentle Giant to a train bringing families Home for the Holidays, the judges did not have an easy job selecting the top three images.

“From the Ashes” by Dawn Muncy – 2nd Place

For Smith, winning back-to-back titles is exciting and she’s incredibly happy that her work has such an impact on the judges, “Impact is so important. I put a lot of emotion behind the story in my images and the judges can tell,” she says. “It’s not just another pretty picture. When they see the title [of the image], I want them to brace for impact, I want them to feel something, and apparently, they did.”

Muncy describes the stages of her “competition journey” and how the third and final phase allows her to be expressive with her work: “When you get to be yourself and let your creativity flow, that’s when competition becomes powerful. I know the rules, now I want to show the world who I am.”

First-time Sunset Print Award-winner Castle also thrives on creating emotional impact through his visual storytelling.

“Heaven’s Hands of Hope” by Brian Castle – 3rd Place

“When I can give my clients an image that creates emotion and causes them to tear up, I know I’ve done my job,” he says. “I would never have learned that unless I started competing.”

Along with an engraved crystal trophy, the winners will also receive cash prizes: $2,000 for First Place, $1,000 for Second Place and $500 for Third Place. We want to thank all the participants in the 2018 Sunset Print Awards and will have information regarding the 2019 awards coming soon.

 

Prints That Win: Heaven’s Hands of Hope

LexJet Sunset Print Award winner Brian Castle of Picture Perfect Photography was destined to be a photographer. The Kingsport, Tenn., native grew up in a town that was home to Eastman Kodak.

“Heaven’s Hands of Hope” by Brian Castle

“My dad worked for Eastman Kodak and I spent time in the darkrooms, where I learned to develop film,” Castle says. His experiences in the EK darkrooms and his parents’ influence led him down the photography path. “I was in high school when I picked up my dad’s film camera. I was hooked, it was over. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a photographer.”

Since Castle started with film in a pre-digital world, he had to learn to get the shot right from the beginning. “I learned early on that I needed to set the shot I wanted and then take it, not shoot a bunch of pictures and hope for the best,” he says. “Even with digital, I still set the shot beforehand. I guess it’s because I can still hear my mom and dad saying, ‘don’t waste my film’ when I was younger.”

Castle is already inspiring his 2-year-old daughter to follow in his story-telling footsteps. “Now that I’ve given her a camera, I’m teaching her about telling a story,” he says. “It’s not about getting the perfect picture, it’s about telling someone’s story. If I didn’t do that, I didn’t do my job.”

With his PPA Southeast District award-winning image “Heaven’s Hands of Hope,” Castle did his job by telling his own story. He says that he wanted to do something different, he just didn’t know how. The idea for the photo came to him in a dream.

“I wanted to tell the story of how I turn to God when the weight of the world is too much to bear,” he says. “The hands below me are my wife’s and daughter’s and represent my Earthly family. They are the ones who lift my hands to Heaven when I don’t have the strength.”

Castle knows that the presentation of the image is just as important as the story, which is why he used lighting to create an oblong vignette, giving the appearance of praying hands behind him.  To create a mystical look and complete the ethereal feeling, he chose to print the image on LexJet Sunset Cotton Etching 285g.

While this is a very personal image for Castle, he felt that it was important for people to feel the impact of the story and understand that there is a place to turn in times of struggle. He’s had such a profound response to the image that he’s decided to make a video about the image to share the story and show people how to look for help when they need it.

Creating impact for his clients is what drives him. His motivation comes from his clients, but he’s learned the importance of impact through competition. “When I can give my clients an image that creates emotion and causes them to tear up, I know I’ve done my job,” he says. “I would never have learned that unless I started competing.”

Competitions are critical for photographers. Not just for merit, but for experience and guidance. The opportunity to improve comes with every competition and feedback provided by the judges. Castle takes the competitions seriously, not only to help him with his clients but also in hopes of reaching a personal goal: Rich Newell’s World Photographic Cup team. “When you represent Team USA, it’s like being in the Olympics of Photography. That’s the summit,” Castle says.

With continued support from his family and his faith in God, Castle feels that he will be able to climb any mountain that lies ahead of him. In the meantime, he wants to continue creating art for his clients: “I don’t want to give them just a photo for their wall. I want to give them an experience, a piece of art. I want them to feel emotion every time they look at the image.”

Prints That Win: Coming Home for the Holidays

Photographic craftsman Robert Howard has been taking pictures since he was 7 years old. The Lebanon, Pa., photographer grew up in a household where his dad avidly captured family moments on Super 8 film and his mom had a Polaroid, eventually transitioning to a Kodak camera. Even his grandfather taught him to use an old Kodak Brownie. For this Sunset Print Award-winning photographer, telling a story with pictures is in his DNA.

His first camera was a Polaroid, and at that time (during the 1970s), each image was about $.50 and there were only 10 images per pack of film. Howard says that his parents didn’t want him wasting money. “50 cents a sheet was expensive back then, so my parents taught me the value of knowing and preparing my shot, understanding the exposure,” he says. “Essentially, they taught me the value of getting the shot right the first time.”

5 Creative & Inspiring 2018 Customer Projects

Every year, we look back on the innovative work our customers have created, and we’re never anything less than amazed. This year has been no different. Take a look back through five of the coolest projects our customers printed for their customers in 2018.

Reproducing Art for a Good Cause at A-R-T & Associates Each year, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Coca-Cola Company commission an art partner to create an original painting that is auctioned during a fundraising event to raise money for the charity, which provides housing for a family while a child is receiving life-saving care at hospitals around the country. This year, A-R-T & Associates won the bid to do the poster printing. Check out how they created this year’s super cool poster using LexJet TRIBUTE Satin Photo Paper 240g. READ MORE

Printer Challenge: Reproduce the 30-foot Painting, African Menagerie Christopher Glassman, general partner at Casual Graphics in Hays, Kan., was asked 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. Check out how the Casual Graphics team made it happen. READ MORE

LexJet Print-N-Stick: Encouraging Students to Explore the World Year after year, LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric continues to be a customer favorite, especially for temporary wall murals. Elementary school teacher Rachel Montisano is thrilled with the results of the images on Print-N-Stick and says that the size and scope of the graphics played a huge part in bringing the environments to life in her classroom, which continue to generate excitement and learning among the students. READ MORE

HP Adhesive Vinyl Case Studies: ‘The Best We’ve Ever Used’ Whenever we launch a new product, our hope is that customers gain the most value possible from it, and the new line of HP Adhesive Vinyl did not disappoint for AlphaGraphics in Rexburg, Idaho, who used HP Prime Gloss Air GP and the Polymeric Matte Overlaminate to create a wall mural that was full of detailed text, spot-on colors, and multiple image depths. READ MORE

Listen Up: Before & After Acoustic Sound Panels + EnduraFab OK, we admit it — we’re suckers for musicians, but that doesn’t take anything away from the cool acoustic panels that Ryan Moore, Vice President of DFMGraphics in Newnan, Ga., made using EnduraFab™ Frontlit Premier and Rockwool acoustic boards. You can even hear the difference in the sound files Moore recorded. READ MORE

Do you have print projects that you’d like to share with the LexJet blog? Email us your story!

Listen Up: Before & After Acoustic Sound Panels + EnduraFab

In October, we announced the new acoustic rating for EnduraFab textiles for sound absorption and noise reduction when used with an acoustic board or foam. So Ryan Moore, Vice President of DFMGraphics in Newnan, Ga., decided to put EnduraFab™ Frontlit Premier to the test.

DFMGraphics uses an HP Latex 335 for printing EnduraFab panels.

Moore’s operation includes office space, printing facilities and a recording studio. “Everything in here is a hard edge, and sound is bouncing back and forth,” he says. “When you’re on the phone, you can hear people talking in the background.” Worse, when recording music, sounds would reverberate, echo and distort the clean sound he was looking for.

“I looked into buying panels, but the cost was too much, and I knew there’s got to be something I could print on,” he says. His LexJet representative mentioned EnduraFab, which, when mounted on an acoustic board, would trap the extraneous sounds in the panel. He paired EnduraFab™ Frontlit Premier with Rockboards from Rockwool. In his 855 square-foot room, he constructed three acoustic panels using 3/4-inch flooring plywood, 4 pieces of RockBoard 4’x2’x2” glued to the wood, then wrapped the whole thing with printed EnduraFab.

Moore installed three of the panels in the room, and immediately noticed a significant noise reduction, both when someone was speaking or when playing an instrument. “You can really hear it,” he says. “You can immediately hear my voice without any echo.”

He used fun music-related graphics for the panels, including a photo from a Nirvana concert, installed over his HP Latex 335 printer; an abstract grouping of speakers with the musical instruments and a collection of retro mix tapes in a utility area.

“The EnduraFab prints great — the color is perfect,” he says, noting some trial-and-error with profile settings. After installing the panels, he quickly received a new order from a customer for printed acoustic panels to be used in a small room to record YouTube videos.

For an ultimate test, he recorded himself speaking and playing a snare drum to illustrate the reverb and echo reduction. Take a listen below:

BEFORE Acoustic panels were installed:

 

AFTER Acoustic panels were installed:

 

If you have questions about using EnduraFab for acoustic panels, give a LexJet print specialist a call at 800-453-9538.

Prints That Win: From the Ashes

The portrayal of a Phoenix rising from the ashes is not only a Sunset Print Award winner for Enid, Okla., photographer Dawn Muncy, it’s also an indication of the state of her career: on fire. A member of the high school yearbook staff, Muncy says that’s where the decision was made to work in photography. “I got to see life differently, looking through the lens. Not to mention, the darkroom was an escape for me,” she says.

Out of high school, Muncy attended the Colorado Institute of Art for a year, but she didn’t feel at home. “Initially I wanted to be a commercial photographer, and they did allow me to focus on that,” she says. “However, after I photographed the same cereal box for weeks, I realized I needed people. I needed conversation. Commercial photography wasn’t for me.”

After leaving the art institute, Muncy decided she was going to take it upon herself to learn about photographing people, so she started doing photography on the side. She says it was her marriage that really moved things forward. “When I first started, it was before digital cameras, then my husband and I got married,” she says. “He knew I had the bug and it wasn’t going away. I finally got my first digital camera in 2001.”

As she delved deeper into her craft, Muncy says she found inspiration everywhere, especially from local photographers. She remembers walking by one studio with a picture of a beautiful brunette in a red sweater and the photographer used a red gel for lighting. “It was very striking and all I could think about is one day, I want to create something as striking as that.”

With the support of photographers like Karen Moore, Jackie Patterson, and Dwaine Horton, who helped her with technique, she became involved with the Professional Photographers of Oklahoma and then PPA where she then found inspiration in photographers like Tony Corbell and Kristi Elias. “Once the floodgates open and you meet that kind of talent, you realize there’s so much more out there that you need to learn,” Muncy says.