At Fine Balance Imaging Studios (FBIS) in Langley, Wash., on picturesque Whidbey Island, the watchwords are quality and variety. The studio images everything from fine art and photography to commercial and special event graphics, using an amazing range of inkjet printable materials from LexJet to better serve its clientele.
An ongoing project for Fine Balance Imaging is the annual summer art festival in Langely called Choochokam, which is Hopi for “gathering of stars.” FBIS co-owner Joe Menth chairs the design committee and prints just about everything imaginable for the festival, from directionals and schedules to booth signage.
With a long history experimenting with different materials, Menth employs his materials and color management knowledge and arsenal of LexJet media to create a colorful and informative venue for the thousands that swarm to the island for the festival.
A few years ago the look of the festival underwent a makeover with Menth heading up the design committee, employing a metal artist to create custom ironworks for the row markers at the event based on the signature design created by Chris Baldwin.
Menth chose to use LexJet Water-Resistant Satin Cloth for the banners attached to the ironwork, and says the material has held up to weather and abuse after years of being used and re-used. For replacement banners where needed, as well as crosswalk, booth and artist banners, Menth used LexJet’s new Poly Select Light fabric.
Other areas of the festival were decorated with Photo Tex for non-permanent, easy-to-apply-and-peel-off applications like schedules at the main event stage, the fronts and sides of shuttle buses and posters applied at the ferry terminal on huge posts to direct people to the free shuttles.
Fine Balance Imaging also used LexJet TOUGHcoat AquaVinyl PSA for the primary information booths (which Menth also designed) and some other non-adhesive applications on LexJet TOUGHcoat Water-Resistant Polypropylene, though these applications were replaced with Poly Select Light for this year’s festival for the look and feel of fabric, plus a cost savings over other media options.
“I’m impressed with the fine art quality I can get with the Poly Select fabric. You can see the details as crisp as just about anything else we print to. It’s also a nice, affordable material for large wall hangings when a client doesn’t want to invest in a more expensive material,” says Menth.
Just such an opportunity came up recently when local fine artist Dan O’Halloran wanted wall-sized hanging reproductions of his work. Menth printed The Archer and The Kingfisher for him on Poly Select Light on the studio’s Epson Stylus Pro 9900 at 44 inches wide by five feet tall. One of them sold almost immediately.
Menth says, “He was one of the first artists whose work we carried in our art gallery before we started the printing studio, and we’ve remained friends for many years. While he’s still working his way through his old offset lithography limited editions of all of his original pencil drawings, he is now starting to explore alternative processes with us, printing on fabrics and polyester cloth. We’ve done large-scale tapestry-style hangings for Dan and other fine artists on machine-washable cottons and silks, but the price point was simply too high for the perceived value the artwork could be priced for at retail. The Poly Select Light cloth has become an excellent alternative for a flowing fabric look without the associated costs of real cottons and silks we’ve printed on in the past.”
FBIS also hangs three fabric portraits along the side of the building outside the second story windows. The banner on the left, printed on Poly Select Light, is a reproduction of 19th Century Japanese artwork the studio prints. A whopping 50 percent of all retail sales of the prints from an ongoing exhibition started last September by FBIStudios, by the way, go to the Japanese Relief Fund for victims of the tsunami.
The “Ukiyo-e: Pictures of the Floating World” exhibit of Japanese woodblock print reproductions hangs throughout the building inside, with prints on Moab Moenkopi Unryu Kozo (Mulberry) Paper with bamboo hanging rods, as well as the ever-popular Water Resistant Satin Cloth.
Large hangings of Hokusai and Hiroshige, as well as many other lesser-known 19th Century Japanese artists are represented, care of the public domain imagery available through the Library of Congress. Much care has been taken to keep the original aesthetic of the work, with minor retouching done to clean up the images, but without the over-saturation and over-sharpening that appears on the gaudy reproductions of Japanese art found on most large-scale retail poster shops and websites.
The resulting images are available not only in the building where FBIS has their printing and photography/classroom studios, but also on their new website, GratitudeGallery.com, where they are adding many of their clients’ work at no commission; artists receive 100 percent of the retail sales minus the print cost.
The middle building banner image on Poly Select Light is a rainbow, representing the color magic FBIS works for its clientele. The third and latest banner is a photo of the island’s lavender fields, a picture-perfect scene printed on LexJet Poly Select Light that captures the printing expertise of the studio and the island’s charm.
Fine Balance Imaging has been donating the printing of building banners for various community events since the day they moved into the historic Bayview Cash Store building, but always at a cost that prevented the banners from being changed out more than once every four to six months.
Previously, the banners were printed on Tyvek, Polypropylene, or Water Resistant Satin Cloth. With the introduction of the Poly Select Light cloth, however, all future banners will be run on the versatile and cost-effective material.
“The banners get a lot of attention and it’s pretty neat having something that big with all that color hanging from the building,” says FBIS co-owner Nancy McFarland. “We usually leave those out on the building for a month or two. They get a lot of weather and wind, so it’s a great durability test.”
FBIS prints all of its work on its three Epson printers, a 4800, 9800 and 9900. Menth says the printers, coupled with the ImagePrint RIP, ensure color consistency and accuracy on each job, and that’s what FBIS is all about.
“I love the printers, and we use ImagePrint 8.0, which is beautiful because we can download profiles for just about any printable material in the industry and for any lighting condition we could run across. It also allows us to run these ridiculously long banners,” adds Menth.