Clear Lake Press Prints Nostalgic Office Décor

Wall Mural by Clear Lake Press

Eric Erickson, prepress systems administrator for Clear Lake Press, Waseca, Minn., loves LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric, and is sticking it everywhere to give customers and prospects a bigger-than-life visual of what they can do with the printable adhesive-back fabric.

The nostalgic photo above was applied at the offices of Clear Lake Press to illustrate the eye-catching displays that can be easily and economically created in similar settings. Erickson has also created visuals in various forms and formats for other environments, like cubicle and bedroom walls.

Cubicle Decor by Clear Lake Press
Clear Lake Press made a cubicle more livable with a view using LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric.

“We’re trying to provide some creative ways of using it, more than just rectangles on walls. You make up something, show it off, and it helps spark ideas for use in their home or business,” says Erickson.

Erickson adds that the unique adhesive, which makes it easy to re-position, remove and re-use is also a big selling point to customers.

“Now that we have offered Print-N-Stick and are showing it off, a lot of people have been asking about it. For instance, we printed some artwork for the Waseca United Way from the front of their brochure. We made a large graphic out of it with Print-N-Stick for use at local businesses to put on their walls and promote the United Way. When they’re done with the promotion, they can peel it off and put it back on the backing paper and hold onto it for future use,” says Erickson.

Printed Wall Graffiti by Clear Lake Press
Wall murals don’t have to be plain rectangles as this cut-out printed wall graffiti illustrates.

For the classic kids’ lemonade stand photo from 1967, Erickson asked the Waseca County Historical Society, a long-time customer, if he could use the photo for their wall. The Historical Society was happy to oblige (with the requisite “be careful with the photo” instructions) and Erickson scanned the original 6 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ black-and-white photo.

The photo was scanned with a desktop Epson scanner and brought into Photoshop for touch-up to get the right tone, and blown up to its final wall mural size of 12′ x 8′. The image was printed in two panels on the company’s Canon iPF8300 and applied horizontally with the help of employees Tonya Wittman and Cory Stencel.

Wall Graphics by Clear Lake Press
Clear Lake Press printed this baby room decor with Print-N-Stick Fabric.

“There’s a little bit of an overlap that you can see. This was our first time applying more than one panel and we learned from the experience. Next time, we’ll include an overlap and slice it right down the middle and take off the excess for a clean, exact cut,” says Erickson. “We love the material and the way the bright white point on the fabric reproduces artwork, whether it’s black-and-white or full color. The coordinator at the Historical Society was thrilled with the mural.

Prints that Win: Narnia

Narnia by David Hyttsten

Misunderstandings sometimes pay off. David Hyttsten, owner of David’s Photography in Monticello, Minn., thought that he needed to print on LexJet Sunset inkjet media to be eligible for the Sunset Print Award at the recent Northern Light PPA print competition.

So, he picked up a box of Sunset Photo Metallic Paper and entered what would become the Sunset Print Award winner at the competition, a family portrait entitled Narnia. As it turns out, the only requirement for Sunset Print Award eligibility is that the image is inkjet-printed.

For his “mistake,” Hyttsen received a bonus prize of an iPad Mini, in addition to a Sunset Print Award trophy, pin and gift certificate. Plus, Hyttsten says the Metallic paper likely gave the image a boost at competition.

“That is a rockin’ paper. When I tried it I thought, ‘Holy cow; I need this stuff for the studio.’ I’m absolutely impressed with the paper,” says Hyttsten. “It works great for competition, but more than that, I really think it makes a beautiful, saleable image that you can get a good price for.”

Of course the real key to winning the Sunset Print Award is to capture, print and enter an image that brings the judges back for a second look.

“I was surprised to win the Sunset Print Award. When you get to that level of competition there are a lot of good prints. It’s very common for me to think I have good stuff, but when I go in there I’m pretty humbled when I see everyone else’s work,” says Hyttsten.

Shot on a winter’s day in Minnesota when frost blanketed everything in a surreal coating of white, Hyttsten took advantage of the opportunity it presented and picked the perfect spot in a field of native prairie grass on a farm in central Minnesota.

“The frost is so white on a morning like that; it overcomes everything. Makes you want to move to Minnesota, doesn’t it? We get a few of those days here and when we do I have people I call to see if they’re interested in getting pictures taken,” explains Hyttsten. “Generally, I shoot pretty close to wide open; as much as I can get away with, and I did some dodging and burning to tweak and even out the exposure. There’s a lot of emotion in it, so that may have been part of what appealed to the judges.”

Printing a Wall of Faces to Promote Local Education

Creating wall murals with an inkjet printer and Tyvek

Traditionally a commercial printer, Clear Lake Press moved into wide-format printing earlier this year with the purchase of a Canon iPF8300 printer. The diversification into wide format, as well as apparel, has helped the printing company grow and better serve its expanding client base.

“You have to change with the times; you can’t be a one-dimensional printer anymore,” says Eric Erickson, prepress systems administrator for Clear Lake Press, which is based in Waseca, Minn. “We’ve had the Canon since February and in addition to variety of wide format work, we’ve also produced canvas reproductions using LexJet’s Sunset Select Matte Canvas, mounted using the Sunset HD Pro Stretcher Kits and finished with either Sunset Gloss Coating or Sunset Satin Coating. They’re all phenomenal products and the stretcher kits are easy to assemble and mount.”

A recent project for the nearby Austin (Minnesota) Public Schools to produce a large-scale wall mural requiring multiple large panels output precisely and quickly was a great testament to Clear Lake Press’ new capabilities. The wall is a linear collage of student and teacher portraits for a campaign called Austin Public Schools Inside Out (click here to read more about the project and the photographers behind it).

The job of Clear Lake Press was to reproduce the images on a media that would resist Minnesota’s changing and sometimes brutal weather over the next six months or so. After consulting with Rob Finkel, the company’s LexJet customer specialist, Erickson and Clear Lake Press president Dan Nitz decided to use LexJet TOUGHcoat 3R DuPont Tyvek.

“The combination of the inkjet material and the water-resistant, pigmented UV inks has worked out well so far. If anything, the first thing that will give out is the glue and tape they used to apply the panels because the mural is on a porous brick surface,” says Erickson.

The school installed the panels using double-stick tape and a water-soluble wheat paste so that removal will be fairly simple with minimal residue left behind. Clear Lake Press printed each student panel at about 3 1/2′ x 4′. Each teacher panel is about four times as large and printed in two panels, seamed together with double-stick tape.

“The printing went great. They were all monochrome images, so we utilized the black inks. The student photos printed in six minutes, which is extremely fast. I used actions tools in Photoshop so that it would produce the same image size and other characteristics, like lighting, consistently and automatically. That way it only took a minute or two to process each one, put a white frame around it and export to the Canon,” explains Erickson.

The mural was installed last month and should be up for the next few months at the high school.

Printing for Profit: Photographer Tim Graham Adds Inkjet to the Mix

Printing award winning photography on satin surface photo paperUp until just a few weeks ago, photographer Tim Graham was outsourcing all of his portrait photography printing. Then, Graham bought a Canon iPF8300 inkjet printer from LexJet and quickly reaped the benefits of doing his own printing.

“I wanted to update the gallery wraps in my studio, so I outsourced that work and it cost me $1,800 to do two displays on my studio walls. In hindsight I could have printed them here for a lot less. My studio walls are dead; they’ve had the same portraits on them for five to six years and if you’re asking me to update my studio walls for $4,000-$5,000 each year, I’m not going to do it. I even gave up a mall display space because the cost of keeping it fresh was too expensive,” explains Graham. “I went to Travis Guggelman’s in-studio training session and saw what he was doing with inkjet printing and the cost of it. I also found that it would bring me back into the craft of photography.”

Part of that craft is color management, which was one of Graham’s biggest roadblocks to in-studio printing. That roadblock was more easily hurdled than he expected. Though he needed to invest in a better monitor and re-print a few jobs as he worked through the process, the learning curve was relatively quick and painless.

“For me, it’s been putting on the big boy pants and getting the job done, and I’ve loved it so far. I love LexJet’s website, because it walks me through a lot of the steps that would otherwise be intimidating, and I don’t feel like I’m intruding on someone’s time. When I do need to intrude, Justin Craft is there and has been perfectly patient and willing to help when needed,” says Graham.

Graham has enjoyed the ability to print everything from wallet-sized photos to 40×60 enlargements, as well as the versatility of the materials at his disposal, like Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, Sunset Select Matte Canvas and LexJet Water-Resistant Satin Cloth. Graham plans to use the canvas for gallery wraps, coated with Sunset Gloss Coating and Sunset Satin Coating, and stretched on do-it-yourself-and-do-it-professionally Sunset HD Pro Stretcher Kits.

In the photo that accompanies this post, Graham is shown holding to prints that merited at the Twin Cities PPA competition. Graham says that photographers in line with him at the competition as he unpacked the photos asked, “Where did you get that color?” Graham says, “All I did was print them on Sunset eSatin and mounted them unfinished.”

Graham’s studio, officially known as Graham Photography, is located off the beaten path in Wanamingo, Minn. Located in a picturesque river valley on five acres, it’s a destination studio. Most clients have to drive at least 30 minutes to get there, but it’s worth it.

Graham has been in photography for the past 19 years, and is also a Baptist pastor. To say he’s busy is an understatement, but taking on inkjet printing at his studio has brought an extra dimension to his work that ultimately brings satisfaction to himself and his clients.

Asymmetrical Symmetry in Fine Art Photography and Printing

Printing a fine art photography exhibitionIt’s been a busy month for Hutchinson, Minn.-based photographer, Jon Otteson, as he finds himself in the midst of his latest project, “The Image Within” art exhibit at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts.

This is Otteson’s first time exhibiting his abstract work, yet it seems to be going quite well for him. “Everybody who’s stopped in has been impressed with it,” he says.

The display consists of a mixture of 56 framed abstract prints on canvas, art and photo papers, all of which he produces himself on his Epson Stylus Photo 2200 and Stylus Pro 7800 printers.

Even if this is new territory for Otteson, he’s no stranger to the world of photography. He’s had a passion for photography for more than five decades.

“I was raised in a conservative Midwestern farming environment. At an early age I took an interest in photography and was fascinated by the process of capturing a moment of time on film.” It wasn’t until his college years, when he first “gained access to a 35mm camera and a darkroom,” that Otteson was able to really hone in his skill and passion.

Printing fine art photography for an exhibition
Race of the Water Beetles, by Jon Otteson, printed on Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

After that, Otteson was actively involved in portrait and wedding photography as well as working at other jobs, including 30 years at 3M in quality control related areas.

“In 2002 I retired from my career at 3M and began the transition from film to digital,” Otteson explains. “The entry into the digital world has given me a portal to focus my skills on creating fine art photography with the primary emphasis being on traditional landscapes and the natural elements while at the same time branching out into experimental abstract photographic images.” This was the time that Otteson really mastered the digital techniques that make his photographs so unique.

Inkjet printing on canvas for an exhibition
Black Hills Gothic, by Jon Otteson, printed on LexJet Premium Archival Matte Paper.

“The Image Within” is a showcase just a few of his experimental abstract images printed on LexJet media, including Sunset Select Matte Canvas, Sunset Velvet Rag, and Premium Archival Matte, seen here in one of Otteson’s favorite pieces, Black Hills Gothic. “The training, customer service and advice that LexJet has provided me over the last nine years have been important resources for my business.”

“Most of my abstract images involve exploring the mathematical randomness of nature,” Otteson says of what inspires and creates his work. “When studying images of rock walls or bark, I sometimes find colors and patterns that I wasn’t aware of at the time of the image capture.  I will then use post production techniques to enhance these colors and patterns.”

Of course Otteson takes some pieces a step beyond with some fine tuning. “Some of the images are merely nature providing me with the main image, which I then crop down to highlight patterns or colors,” he says.

Other times Otteson will take an image and manipulate it, creating a whole new outcome. One of Otteson’s techniques is what he refers to as “asymmetrical symmetry,” which involves mirroring various areas of an image and then placing the mirrored sections back into the photo. Otteson especially likes this technique when applied to tree bark, as with Race of the Water Beetles. “It can create unusual mystical images and landscapes that tend to play with one’s imagination,” Otteson says.

“The Image Within” can be seen now through July 31 at the Hutchinson Center for the Arts in Hutchinson, Minn. 

LexJet’s New Minneapolis Distribution Center Up and Running

Product delivery range from a warehouseLexJet’s distribution center in Minneapolis is the first of five new distribution centers to open this month, shipping large format inkjet products for expanded same-day and one-day delivery in the area for items in stock. LexJet now provides same-day delivery to most Zip codes within 50 miles of the distribution center, as well as product pickup at the distribution center, which is located at:

4825 Mustang Circle
Mounds View, MN 55112

You can pick up your products at the distribution center until 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, and receive same-day delivery if you order before noon Central Time. Check with a LexJet customer specialist at 800-453-9538 about specific product availability and to find out if you fall within the same-day and one-day coverage areas.

LexJet products around the United StatesChances are that, no matter where you are in the lower 48 states, you can get LexJet products delivered one-day. With the addition of the five new distribution centers, LexJet will be able to deliver products one-day to 90 percent of the contiguous U.S. In addition to Minneapolis, LexJet will open new distribution centers in Charlotte, Kansas City, Phoenix and Portland, Ore. The remaining four distribution centers will open over the next few weeks.

LexJet’s other distribution centers are located in Albany, N.Y.; Birmingham; Cincinnati; Dallas; Denver; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Reno; and Wilmington, Del. LexJet also ships OEM products from 30 warehouses across the U.S., including Minneapolis.

For more information about the Minneapolis distribution center, LexJet’s state-of-the-art logistics network and Nationwide Delivery System, call 800-453-9538. Every time you call during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET), someone will answer your call within ten seconds and you’ll talk to a real person who can help.