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.