Avast Ye Swabs! The Art of Piracy at the Tampa Bay History Center

Forty Thieves by Don Maitz

The Tampa Bay History Center is featuring the original work of fine artist Don Maitz as part of its exhibition, The Art of Piracy: Pirates in Modern Culture. The exhibition began on Jan. 24 and runs through April 26.

No Prey No Pay by Don MaitzMaitz is famed for creating the original artwork for Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum when the adult beverage was first brought to market to be properly swilled.

The exhibit examines the role of art in shaping the popular and iconic images associated with 17th and 18th century pirates in and around the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic seaboard.

Originally from Connecticut, and now based in Sarasota, Fla., Maitz’s interest in pirates and sea rovers goes back well before he moved to the Buccaneer coast. The move simply made his pursuits in pirate art even more appropriate.

Hidden Cove by Don Maitz“A lot of artists and illustrators had moved west and were doing western art. Since I moved to Florida I didn’t think that subject matter really fit. Illustrating what was going on in our coastal waters and treasure hunting, I thought pirates would be interesting subject matter for me to continue. Plus, some of my favorite artists have worked in that genre,” says Maitz.

For this exhibition, Maitz printed some of his most notable pirate art to date using his Epson Stylus Pro 7800 on Sunset Hot Press Rag, LexJet Premium Archival Matte and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 g.

Don Maitz
Don Maitz

Maitz sends his artwork – typically oil paintings and watercolors, though he works in a variety of media, including acrylics – to Eagle Photographics in Tampa to capture his work.

“I get a digital file and go through ImagePrint software to balance the print to the original art. I use Photoshop to manipulate the color and the ImagePrint software to change the image based on the surface of the paper I’m printing to,” he says. I want to use the highest quality paper possible. I like Sunset Hot Press Rag because it has a little less tooth so it doesn’t collect things like dust and oil from your hands. I use Premium Archival Matte for more cost-effective smaller prints.”

Maitz cuts the prints by hand, rather than using the automated cutter inside the printer. He says it’s best to keep the dust produced by cutting as far away from the printer as possible; a clean printer alleviates potential headaches from clogged nozzles and cuts down on maintenance routines.

Maitz has worked with LexJet as print supplier partner since he bought his printer. “What I really like about LexJet is that I place an order and it gets here quickly; that’s a real plus. Also, when I first bought my printer from LexJet, my learning curve was dropped considerably by help from my rep and technical support,” adds Maitz.

A Simple Method to Flatten Curly Art and Photo Prints

Curled Art Prints
Photo 1: The curled print and the de-curler.

It’s convenient to roll up inkjet art and photo prints for storage before they’re delivered, but not so convenient when they won’t roll back out nice and flat for final delivery to the customer.

Mastercolor Professional Labs, Greensboro, N.C., came up with a simple “de-curler” system that has the dual purpose of flattening out prints while re-using the cores of the inkjet media rolls the company uses.

Print De-curler
Photo 2: The de-curler unwound. Canvas is taped or glued to a used inkjet media roll core.

“We save the empty cores when we finish printing a roll of media and save different-width cores so that we can de-curl a variety of widths,” says Chip Wright of Mastercolor Professional Labs. “We’ll usually tape scrap canvas to it to help protect the print when we roll it back up print-side down to de-curl it. You just roll it against the curl. Some papers will flatten out in 15 seconds; others in a minute or two. You can just hold it in place with Velcro if you don’t want to sit there and wait for a couple of minutes, but you don’t want it to sit there too long or it will start curling in the other direction.”

Un-curling Art Prints
Photo 3: The print is rolled onto the de-curler.

Wright adds that thinner papers will flatten out faster than thicker papers, and that smaller cores (2″) will do it faster than thicker cores (3″).

“When someone’s paying a lot for a fine art print, we don’t want to hand them something with curl. It makes it more difficult to command that higher price you’ve set because of all the other things you do in the print process to ensure quality,” adds Wright.

Rolling Art Prints
Photo 4: The de-curler is secured after rolling. The time to hold it in place ranges from 10 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on the thickness of the paper and the amount of curl.

Here’s how it works…

Photo 1: The curled print and the “de-curler”.

Photo 2: The de-curler unwound. Canvas is taped or glued to a used inkjet media roll core.

Photo 3: The print is rolled onto the de-curler.

Photo 4: The de-curler is secured after rolling. The time can range from 10 seconds to whatever is required to de-curl, depending on the thickness and amount of curl. Practice will help determine the length of time required.

Thanks for the tip, Chip!

A Photographer’s Best Friend: Dogs Underwater

Underwater photography sessionsSeth Casteel is making a splash with his underwater HD photography of dogs as they dive in after tennis balls. The results of his experiment have created an Internet sensation, with ball to ball coverage on blogs of all stripes, from ABC News to the Discovery Channel and throughout social media, primarily Facebook.

“I was photographing a little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Buster. We were meant to do an ‘on-land’ shoot in his backyard, but he decided he would play in the pool the entire time. Watching him jump in time after time after a sinking tennis ball, it occurred to me that I needed to see what that looked like,” explains Casteel. “I had no idea what to expect, but I just thought the results were so fascinating and fun.”

As the name of his business, Little Friends Photo, implies, Casteel specializes in pet photography. To say Casteel loves man’s best friend would be an understatement. Like photographers who specialize in human portraits, Casteel seeks to bring out the unique personality of each pet. Casteel’s experiment yields personality plus as determined dogs paddle their way to their play prey.

Photographing dogs underwater“From the water’s surface, it’s a simple exercise: a dog’s leap, a splash, and then a wet head surfacing with a ball, triumphant,” says Casteel. “But beneath the water is a chaotic ballet of bared teeth and bubbles, paddling paws, fur and ears billowing in the currents. From leaping lab to diving dachshund, the water is where a dog’s distinct personality shines through; some lounge in the current, paddling slowly, but others arch their bodies to cut through the water with the focus and determination of a shark.”

The timing of all this viral attention comes at a perfect time for Casteel, who is putting together a book to be released this fall called Underwater Dogs, which features 80 portraits of diving dogs, which Casteel says “gives playful and energetic testament to the rough-and-tumble joy that our dogs bring into our lives.”

Casteel also has an exhibition opening in Brazil this month, which will be followed over the summer here in the United States. The photographs are available at Casteel’s website as art prints up to five feet wide. “They look so cool when they are big,” says Casteel.