Not pleased with her official senior class photo, my daughter, Kirsten, had her high school graduation pictures taken in the JCPenney Portrait Studios at the mall. The hand-stretched canvas print, now framed and prominently displayed, is absolutely gorgeous. Its artistic, textured finish looks like gallery-quality wall art, and the price was surprisingly not expensive.
More so than ever before, digital photography and printing are bringing fine art to the masses. On a lower-end scale, shoppers can walk the aisles of retail stores, such as Target, and browse breathtaking framed prints and posters. For large custom prints and posters, competing Walmart Photo Centers employ HP Designjet models.
Nationally acclaimed aerial photographer Mike Gustafson has the perspective of being a printer as well as a photographer. He is one of four brothers running sheetfed packaging/print firm JohnsByrne, based in Niles, IL; their father, John, founded the company on Chicago’s Printer’s Row in 1959. Gustafson’s photos specialize in the famous Chicago skyline and “cityscapes” as well as sports venues—he has photographed some 160 stadiums throughout the US. It all began 24 years ago next month, when he shot the first-ever night game played at historic Wrigley Field. That, of course, was before Gustafson used a digital camera. Cubs fan or not, chances are you’ve seen his work on a Graph Expo poster or two. Especially popular among sports memorabilia collectors, the 27x39-inch lithographs are available online.
Today, you can go online and buy a canvas reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Irises:” $285 at zazzle.com, which outputs its prints on 18-mil., heavyweight matte canvas. For wide-format printers who want to play in the fine-art space, a 50-foot, 42-inch-wide roll of HP’s large-format, mid-grade artist matte canvas sells for around $340. (A 24-inch by 20-foot roll is $78.) Swiss firm Folex also produces traditional classic textured canvas for giclee fine-art inkjet prints, classic paintings, and photographs. The canvas gives superb image quality and wet smear-resistance as well as good light stability, says the film and paper coating manufacturer.
At drupa 2012 in May, Folex highlighted its fine art and photo papers for eco/solvent and water-based inks. The matte white, lightly structured materials are ideally suited for fine art and digital photographic output, the company said. The papers offer excellent archival properties along with good light stability and “brilliant” colors with high-density, solid blacks. Also, its nanoporous photo papers can be used for photographic poster prints, presentations, point of sale, short- term proofing, and exhibition panels. Images dry instantly due to a highly porous coating, ensuring production speeds are optimized. The photo papers offer excellent handling, stability, and lamination properties, according to Folex.
In New York City, Joel Meyerowitz is a former art director turned “street photographer.” Meyerowitz, 74, is a one-time digital skeptic who served as a spokesperson of sorts for Hewlett-Packard from 2007 through 2010. He also was the only photographer permitted on the scene at Ground Zero, where he spent months photo-documenting the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.
HP culminated its partnership with Meyerowitz with the exhibition “Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks” at the Museum of the City of New York in 2010. Capturing the parks throughout the five boroughs, the exhibition showcased the majesty of the city’s coveted park areas in large photographic prints. To print the images, Meyerowitz relied on HP’s large-format printing portfolio, including the Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer and the Designjet L65500 Printer, to produce high-quality prints and large-scale graphics.
“You can see the softness of light that comes through with HP printing,” Meyerowitz praised. “I won’t print on anything else.”