HP Artist System developments

The HP Artist system gets a big boost at PMA next week.

Featured in HP booth #F150: HP and Nikon — capture-to-print fine art reproduction solution
Discover the untapped business opportunity of selling gallery-quality limited editions of fine art reproductions. And, learn how easily and efficiently you can create these fine art prints thanks to the new fine art reproduction solution that resulted from a close collaboration between HP and Nikon. With ErgoSoft StudioPrint DFA edition powered by HP Artist Software, you now have an end-to-end application optimized from capture to print, incorporating the Nikon D3 and D3X camera and Nikkor lens and the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo printer.

Please be sure to stop by the HP booth and meet David Saffir, Fine Art Photographer and Printmaker, and learn how the solution helped him to drastically reduce his production time from hours to minutes, and how he is developing this new business with demanding artists and fine art photographers.

My fried David Saffir has written a detailed review of the system. I encourage you to check it out at this link:

http://web.me.com/davidsaffir/davidsaffir.com/Digital_Fine_Art_Reproduction_With_HP_Artist_Solution_for_Nikon.html

You can also see additional content, including video artist interviews, profitability analysis, and more through links on the same page.

Push Yourself That Bit More, and Thus Push Your Photography

Do you give up when out photographing just a little too soon or do you give up when you have a succession of failures with a new technique? If so, you need to read this.
You may be tired and decide to pack it in for the day. And of course as soon as you pack up and leave the light will turn wonderful. Do you give up on trying that night photography technique you have told yourself you are keen to try just because it is a bit cold or your favorite show will be starting on TV? Or you may have put all your stuff away ready to try a new location and an opportunity presents itself. Do you get it all out again or do you go home or move on?

Pushing your photography requires pushing yourself. I don’t know about you, but lugging that big, heavy but oh so nice tripod around is hard work. Same with taking some of that extra gear. So do you leave it in the car or at home or do you make the effort?

Pushing your photography is a lot more than just pushing your technique. In fact, I would argue that really it is only the pushing of your thinking that advances your photography. Techniques are only the vehicle by which you demonstrate this change in thinking.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that it is that last extra repetition of an exercise, after you wanted to stop that builds the muscle. When your dad told you that life was hard he may not have meant exactly that, but rather that sometimes you have to persevere even when you have little to apparently show for it.

Taking great photographs or making great art is not easy. In fact it is a complex and demanding task. Some of those demands are intellectual, learning exposure and optics and all the rest. Some is physical, such as carrying the gear, walking that bit further for that great view or crouching in a cramped position to get exactly the right point of view. But some is also emotionally and spiritually demanding: how do you keep going when it is just not coming together and the shots are lousy or how do you summon the motivation to drag yourself out of a nice, warm bed so you can shoot before dawn?

To borrow a phrase from the Mel Gibson movie ‘We Were Soldiers’, there is always one more thing you can do. So apply this to your photography, your art and to your whole life, in fact. There is always one more angle you can shoot, one more change in the lighting you can try or one more technique you haven’t given a go.

Are you a quitter?

Web Strategy 101 for Creatives (Part 3) – Website Design Options

We look at ways to develop your website, whether for photography, digital art, your business or whatever.

Website

One of the hardest things for people to realize, and especially photographers, artists and designers, is that their website should not be designed to suit them. Yes, that is what I said. Your website needs to be designed with your typical and intended viewer or customer in mind. Sure, you site needs to reflect you tastes and branding, but this should not get in the way of the customer or viewer. I see many sites which are over designed, have form fair outweighing function and in fact do the owner’s business harm by turning people away. I design websites for people and generally find photographer to be the hardest to work with, since we tend to think we know it all and they are often far to over concerned with looks and not enough with the user experience.

The first step is working out what you need the site to do for you. Is it an online portfolio? Is it your major way of communicating with your existing clients? Is it purely to satisfy your ego? Do you intend it to be a major entry for new business?

Then you need to determine who your primary target user is. What equipment will they use to browse you site? How long will they stay? Are they visually sophisticated? What will they be looking for? How strongly motivated will they be to find it?

Once you understand these first two points only then can you start sketching out a design for the site. The design is not just how it looks but, most importantly, where the information will go and how people will move around the site. Don’t get stuck on the first design you come up with. Explore several and then fine tune from there. Even if someone else is designing your website for you it is worth doing this step yourself initially as it will help you to crystallize your thoughts and refine your ideas of how the website might work for you. Then if someone else is building the site, present your ideas but also listen to theirs. If you have hired someone for their experience rather than their low cost, listen to them. Still in the end you know your own business better than them and so you should not always go with what they say. But always listen to them and be prepared to adjust your ideas accordingly, where appropriate.

Look for creative ways to get the functionality that you need. For example there are two types of web sites: static and dynamic. In a static site each page is designed and its content put in place before it is uploaded to the site host. Making changes to the site means editing the page files on your computer with a program like Dreamweaver and then uploading them again. For a simple site or one where the information does not need to change frequently, a static approach works well.

In a dynamic site the pages are created on the fly from information you provide in some other way than a set design, such as from a database. Such a site might use what is called a content management system. For complex sites and especially ones where you need to upload and change content yourself without having to use web site design software, like Dreamweaver, a content management system (CMS) is the way to go.

The CMS approach works like this. The site is still designed to create a look (often called a theme, which is defined in a set of files, which are uploaded from Dreamweaver or the like), but no real information is placed in it. Instead the information content of your site is stored in a database. When you access a page, such as index.php, program code runs on the server to extract appropriate information from the database and merge it with the layout of the theme. The result is then sent to your web browser to be displayed as html, the language of web pages. So the page can change (be dynamic) as the information in the database is changed. What this does is decouple the information from how it is displayed. This means that you can change or add to the information using a web browser and a special login rather than needing to use Dreamweaver. Likewise multiple people can add content to the site with no fear they can screw up how it looks or functions. This approach is perfect for sites where the information changes frequently or where you want multiple people to be contributing content. It is also ideal for sites with massive amounts of information. Most major sites are designed this way.

Dynamic sites can use a custom CMS, such as DIMi’s, which I developed, or a standard, usually open source one, such as that used for the galleries on www.cosshall.com or www.dimagemaker.net, or the blog on www.digitalimagemakerworld.com, which can be modified to suit your needs if necessary. Sites can even mix static and dynamic components, such as cosshall.com where the home page and a couple of the others are plain, static html pages while the gallery of work uses a CMS, or combine several different CMS components, as Digital ImageMaker World does, one for the blog and another for the galleries.

Many of the open source content management systems work on a Linux website server, so if you have this type of hosting you are right. This is one reason why I highly recommend Linux hosting for creative clients.

Should you design the site yourself or pay someone else to do it? This is a tough question to answer but let’s have a go. The short version is ‘it depends’. Photographers and artists, since we work visually, are often tempted to do it yourself. This can work. However, web design is a complete discipline in itself as there are usability, interaction and technical aspects that are outside of the normal photography or art skill set. So the big question is do you want to learn all this and more? When starting from scratch you will find that your first website is probably rubbish, just like your first photograph or painting. But they get better with time and experience. Paying someone to do it costs you money but if you value your time in any reasonable way then if you consider all the time you will spend learning to do it yourself, you just might find that your time is better spend elsewhere.

Finding a web designer is tricky. Cost should not be the main determinant. Rather look for someone with an understanding of your business area, experience there and a good, all round understanding of web design. Listen carefully to what they say and get them to clearly explain the way they like to work. Most issues between web designers and clients come about through lack of communication. Be realistic about what a website is going to cost. A website that will handle thousands of images and offer shopping cart facilities, etc is not going to cost you $200, or even $500. Even when someone uses an open source CMS as the basis, there is still configuration, customization and client training work to consider. A smart web designer understands that they will have to support the client in getting the most from the site and a smart client understands that they have to pay for this.

View Your Camera and Computer as Part of One System

Once images are in the digital domain there is an infinite field of possibility open to you that can move your photography to new levels. It is time to stop thinking of your camera gear and computer gear as separate things.
Digital photography is as massive a paradigm shift in photography as the invention of photography was in the first place. The paradigm shift is one in the thinking of the photographer, and many of us haven’t yet caught up with this. Let me explain.
Let us create a hypothetical ‘normal’ photographer and a ‘new paradigm’ photographer for comparison.

The normal photographer shoots pretty much the same way they did with film, though they may shoot more. They have their camera gear and they have their computer gear. The computer gear replaces their old darkroom equipment and the trips off to drop off and pickup film and prints that they were not equipped to handle in their darkroom. Their thinking is inherently two-stage in nature. They go out and shoot with their gear, then later they get into their images on the computer. When they shoot they take some heed of what they may do on the computer, just as in their darkroom days they exposed so they could get a decent print without too much prestidigitation in the darkroom. A hangover from this thinking is an effort to handle as much with the camera as possible.

The new paradigm photographer has an inherently one-stage thinking. Everything is their photography and everything is their camera gear, even the computer. They think in terms of what is the best way, within their present means, to address a particular issue. They understand fully the effect of every decision on their workflow and structure things to get the maximum quality they can out of what they have, and have the most fun doing it. So they may have a workflow that uses the best camera and lenses they can afford and use appropriate software to reduce image noise, correct lens aberrations and achieve image modifications that allow them to do the photography they want to do in a way that suits them.

On the discussion lists too often you see photographers who are struggling with the camera gear they have and limiting what they shoot because of it. Yet computational photography, as it is becoming called, opens up so many possibilities. Rather than not doing night photography because they have a fairly noisy camera and cannot afford an update, a cheap software purchase may do the trick. Likewise a cheap lens with aberrations that make architectural photography difficult can be addressed with software. Panorama stitching does not need a special camera. Likewise using HDR techniques can extend a low dynamic range camera. Software can extend depth of field in macro work and even allow you to choose the focal point and depth of field after the shoot. And the list goes on.

Beyond technological solutions there are also solutions of perception. Not every image has to be sharp and perfect. Blur can be highly effective, a soft image can add atmosphere and burned out highlights and blocked shadows can be used in creative ways.

I sometimes think we like to be limited so we have something to complain about or have an excuse for not testing our creativity. Perhaps it is an avoidance mechanism so we do not have to risk failure. Whatever it is, it is worth blocking it away and taking the risk of changing your thinking. You just might like it.

Every Image Has a Story

When it comes to selling your photography and art there is one great aid. Make sure that you have a story about or involving each image. People love a story.
One of the things that those of us who are serious about making images forget, whether photography or art, is why other people buy images. We are focused on the beauty of the image, or its symbolic meaning or whatever.

So why do people buy art? Well there are, of course, many reasons. Some will buy purely for their own enjoyment, some from a collector’s mentality and others to enhance their surroundings.

No matter the personal motivation, most people who buy art will, in some way, share it with other people in their lives. It may be a conversation with a friend over coffee, down at the gym or while picking the kids up from school or at a dinner party. Describing images is a challenge for most people. But telling a story comes naturally to many. If the artwork has a story attached to it, it makes life much easier.

At gallery openings I have a tendency to watch the artist. I guess all photographers are voyeurs but I find it very enlightening. Many of the artists and photographers that I see doing very well from exhibition sales know how to spin a yarn. As they chat with potential buyers they have an interesting story about every image in the show, “You know, when I shot this…” or “I have to tell you this about this image, I had a proof hanging in my studio and …”. You can see the way it changes how the potential buyer views the work. Now I am sure few are directly thinking “Wow, if I buy this I will have a great story for my next dinner party”, though some will. For most I think that it draws them into a deeper engagement with the work, adds depth and interest and increases the feeling that they just must have that image, that their life will be the lesser if they have to let it go. This same idea holds in other venues than galleries: it is applicable at art fairs and markets, online and in a portrait or wedding studio (helped here by the buyer’s own stories about the images). Obviously the length of the story and how much time you have to tell it needs to be different in these varying contexts, but the idea is the same.

Selling is still selling and it is easy for artists and photographers to loose sight of this about their work. Sometimes people need just one more reason to buy. Make sure you give it to them.

Web Strategy 101 for Creatives (Part 2) – Site Hosting

As a creative, whether a hobbyist or a professional, artist, photographer or designer, a key thing is presenting our work. The Internet is one of the ways of doing this. But it is important to get it right. This series of articles covers the issues.

Setup Site Hosting
Once you have a domain name you will need somewhere to host your website. A hosting company provides a server on which your site sits, various services and an admin interface so you can control your site, emails, etc. Do not look for the cheapest but, at the same time, there is no need to go for the most expensive. You want a reasonably priced, extremely reliable host with excellent customer service. Anything else will drive you nuts and more than outweigh any financial saving (especially if you take your time and possible lost business into account).

There are many other decisions to make. Hosts will usually offer either Linux or Windows hosting. This is not related to what operating system you run on your local computer, but rather the OS the server will run. It affects the services you can use. For most creative’s I would recommend Linux. Not only is it sometimes cheaper but you also get access to a whole range of free open-source software applications you can run on your site, such as blogging and gallery systems. Windows is a good choice for certain businesses but creative’s rarely need these features.

Hosts will often offer you a range of options (and prices) from shared to dedicated (some call private), and sometimes some in between, such as virtual dedicated, which gives you most of the capability of a dedicated server but with the machine actually being shared. Shared means that many other websites will also be hosted on the same server whilst dedicated gives you a dedicated machine all to you. The latter is generally too expensive for a single creative’s website although it does give you full control of the machine. Full control can be important if you have to install certain features, but again is unnecessary for most creatives. Shared hosting works well if the hosting company balances the number of sites appropriately and adjusts as necessary to maintain good performance.

Hosting is priced on the features you get. Apart from the above, the common differentiators of hosting cost are space and bandwidth. Space is how many mega or giga bytes of disk space you get on the server. While 20MB is plenty for many small business websites, many creative’s want a full portfolio of their work and this can end up quite large. Thankfully storage is quite cheap and so hosting plans are available at reasonable price with enough storage to suit almost anyone. Bandwidth is the measure of how much data is transferred to and from your site. Transfers to the site will typically just be you uploading new content, unless you use ftp a lot for clients to send you large files, and so will be a small part. When people view your site every file they see, images, the pages themselves, CSS files, etc count towards the bandwidth. This can add up fast on a popular site or even an unpopular one where people who do come view a lot of content. Again, this is getting cheaper all the time.

There are also many extras to consider. Having the ability to create your own email addresses gives you a lot of flexibility. I’ve adopted a policy of using a minimum of three addresses: one for use on forums and mailing lists, one for enquiries from my site and another for email correspondence I participate in directly with individuals and the companies I deal with, such as the camera companies. I change the first two fairly often to minimize being hit with a lot of spam. I also use fairly heavy spam filtering on these. Another option worth having is Fantastico. This allows you to easily install free open-source applications, such as blogs, galleries, mailing lists, newsletters, forums, etc on your website and keep them updated. You’ll understand the value of this in the next part of this series. There are many other options.

Hosting can happen anywhere in the world. It is thus worth exploring hosting in another country if local hosting is too expensive or does not offer the features you need. While I live in Australia I host in the US because not only can I get a faster connection to the Internet for my server there but the costs I have to pay for huge amounts of space and bandwidth are so much lower than I would pay here in Australia. Look for features of the hosting company, such as the configuration of their data center: redundant air conditioning, power backup and generators and redundant and fast links to the Internet.

One company you should never use for hosting is your Internet service provider, the people who you use to connect to the Internet from home or the office. Hosting with them can lock you into using them as an ISP and it has been my experience that you want to be able to easily change ISP for a better deal, faster connections, a cheaper price or more reliable service. You do not want to be locked in. This is the same reason why I said to register your domain name yourself; it means you have no hassle moving your site to a new host if necessary.

Once you have a host, you point your domain name to it by logging into your account at the domain name registrar and setting the DNS (domain name server) to point to the hosting company’s DNS server. When you create a hosting account they will tell you what you need to specify here.

Email
Once you have your domain name and hosting in place you should create for yourself one or more email addresses tied to your domain name. This is commonly done through some sort of control panel your hosting company provides you access to. In some cases they will need to do it for you. You want to use your domain name in your email address, such as [email protected], for two reasons. Firstly, it looks far more professional and stable than a gmail, yahoo or .mac address. Secondly it advertises your web site every time you use it. It amazes me how many people have a website but continue to use a gmail or such account. It makes no sense to me because if you have proper hosting you can easily create new email addresses whenever you want.

Many hosting companies include optional spam filtering on your email addresses. Learn how to configure this and turn it on and off as you need it. Work out how you want to handle spam. I have to be careful because many press releases I receive look like spam to most filters, so I have my spam filters label is as possible spam but still send it though to my mail program so I can check it myself. For others this will not normally be such an issue and you may be able to be more aggressive.

Web Strategy 101 for Creatives (Part 1) – First Steps

As a creative, whether a hobbyist or a professional, artist, photographer or designer, a key thing is presenting our work. The Internet is one of the ways of doing this. But it is important to get it right. This series of articles covers the issues.

The Internet is, today, a core part of doing business. It is also a core part of doing our hobby or avocation. Yet, as in all things creative’s do, there are so many options and possibilities. In this article I try to cover all the key essentials to either get you off to a good start or to help you fine-tune the approach you already take.

Motivation
The first and very real question is what will a website do for you? The glib answer is ‘whatever you want it to’. It may be glib but it is also true, though with a major caveat. So here are some ideas of what a website may do for you.

A website acts as an open 24/7 shop branding you and your work. Yes, branding YOU. As a creative what you have to see is actually you. This is especially true if you are a designer, as it is your talent that you directly market. This of course also clearly applies to commercial artists or photographers. But also with artists and fine art photographers the same is true, you are the brand and ultimately the product, even when what you sell is a piece of art.

For those with a lot of actual product to sell, your website can be a full shop. It has the benefit of being open 24/7 and located in all parts of the world, because when it comes to the web, the entire world is as close as next door. You can go as far as accepting and processing credit card payments online, though this is only something to do if you expect a lot of sales. Alternative payment systems, like PayPal, are an option or the place an order, send a check and then we ship system is a straightforward and low cost alternative.

Having an online portfolio can be a key to getting work or commissions, and even in getting a physical exhibition.  There are many opportunities that come up when you do not have a physical portfolio with you. But if you have an online portfolio it is just a case of telling them your domain name or giving them a business card (so long as you have it on your card).

Those who have had physical exhibitions know the value of an exhibition goes far beyond the exposure and possible sales. The process of preparing an exhibition gets you focused on your work, forces you to go through your work carefully, choosing a cohesive body of work and even writing a suitable artist statement. It gives you an opportunity to look at your work in a new light, polish it for exhibition and to see your work as collections rather than just as individual pieces. You can gain all this with a website if you treat the process in the same way as for a physical exhibition. This is the key point: you don’t just throw your latest work up but rather you carefully work on it, creating a unifying theme and concept, polish the individual pieces to look great in your chosen exhibition form, online and write it up. That is what most people do not do, online.

Being online can also be key to gaining other types of exposure. For example it is much easier to get a magazine to profile you if you have a ready way for them to look at your work. Likewise even publicity to support some other thing, such as a physical exhibition or an interesting project, is more likely to get into print if the journalist can go look at more of your work online. Similarly other websites, such as DIMi, and bloggers will profile artists and photographers but only if it is easy for them to do. Plus of course you get far more exposure from any of the above if they mention your own website, as people will go and look.

The major caveat I mentioned earlier is that, by itself, a website does nothing. It is just a tool. If you do not use it fully or exploit its full potential then it will achieve nothing. People will not find your website by itself. On any likely topic there are so many websites that, if people Google, your site may not be listed before the 10th page, and few people bother to go that far. So you must build relationships with other sites, have your site address on your business cards, all brochures and stationary, send out PR material (press releases) and maybe even display it on your car (what better mobile billboard, and you have already paid for it).

What follows is a step-by-step sequence to success.

Register a Domain Name
A domain name, such as www.dimagemaker.com or cosshall.com (the www part is not really part of the domain name and is optional in all modern browsers) is your site’s address on the Internet.

At one level it really does not matter what the domain name is. It doesn’t have to be meaningful. However it does provide an opportunity to start the marketing and branding right up front. So a meaningful and descriptive one is useful, if you can get it. Something like www.joeblowphotography.com or www.sallysorensonart.net instantly says something about your business. On the other hand it can instantly label your car for robbery if displayed on the back, as it probably should be, so you need to think it through.

Domain names should be easy to say to someone over the phone. You will do a lot of that and you want it to be something that is easy for people to get right. This also helps with people remembering the domain name if they see it somewhere but don’t write it down.

Don’t always be tempted to take a free domain name as part of your hosting account (see below). Many do offer a free domain with a new hosting account and many of these will do the right thing by you. But I have also see and experienced problems. The classic problem is having difficulty getting them to release the domain name when you want to move to a new host. It can always usually be done but it can greatly slow this process down and cause huge headaches. Also weird things happen. A friend of mine made use of an offer his hosting company had of a free three month hosting extension when you refer someone else. They extending his hosting but forgot to renew his domain at the required time. It got snapped up by a Chinese co-artist who then wanted serious money to give it back.

The best and safest way is to go to a major domain registrar and do it yourself. That way you will be given the registry key directly (essential for moving the domain, etc) and have a login account with the registrar to use when you change hosting companies or whatever. Plus they will directly contact you when your domain needs renewal, which is usually yearly except for some national ones, such as Australian .com.au and .net.au where you pay for two years at a time. Note: some hosting companies will do this for you and provide you will all the details properly.


Print In More Sizes

It is easy to become stuck on one or two sizes of print. Break out of the rut and try something different. Photographs and art work can look very different depending on the size.

There is no right size to print every image at. We tend to fall into habits with regard to everything, including our printing. Sure, we can work out what size print a given camera can produce at 300dpi. But this is really on the starting point. A print resolution of 300dpi (or 360dpi for Epsons) works well when you are up close and personal to the print. But with larger prints we don’t hold them in our hands up close, we look at them hanging on the wall, typically, and also from some distance so we can take in the whole image in one go. So you can lower the resolution you print at and thus print the image larger. Think of this as the packing density, how close the camera pixels are packed together on the page.

The other thing that affects what resolution you need to print at is the type of paper. High gloss, photo papers demand the highest resolution to produce a print that will look great up close. Matt papers can sometimes take a lower resolution and still look great. Non-digital art papers, especially the heavily textured watercolor papers can look great at even lower resolutions. For example, I have printed an image at as low as 25dpi (image resolution, not printer dot resolution) on a non-digital watercolor paper and the result has looked great. I have even used very low actual printer resolutions, such as 300dpi. This has partly been a result of the texture of the paper making the lower resolution image look more detailed and also because when you print on non-digital papers, the ink bleeds into the paper, spreading the dots out till they blend together, creating the illusion of a higher resolution than actually used. Particularly suitable to this approach are the non-digital watercolor textured papers and the Japanese, Korean and Nepalese handmade papers, often called Washi,  and especially those with inclusions, such as bark or flowers.

Some images work well when small and intimate. Many don’t. My observation is that probably a majority of people print their images smaller than is ideal for the image. This is perfectly natural because of issues of having suitable equipment and the cost of the gear and the consumables as you go up in size, but is still something to be worked on. You could argue that images have a natural size at which they work best that is determined by a combination of factors. The amount of detail in the piece and how important it is plays a part. As does the style of the work: is it intimate or bold and brassy? The desired impact on the viewer and what it is you are trying to say play a major part. When discussions of what size should I print my work comes up I am always reminded of a time soon after I had returned from a trip to Poland where I had done a lot of shooting at Auschwitz. I had been printing my images fairly large, approximately 24″ x 36″. There was an exhibition at a local photography gallery by a photographer who had also shot Auschwitz. His work was printed very small, in fact no larger than 8″ x 10″ and mostly noticeably smaller. With such small work the automatic response was to move in close. You were then confronted with the subject matter that had not been obvious from a distance. This drawing you in worked well with these very detailed, medium and large format images. My approach had been to play with the graphic elements, the shapes and textures, and I found this worked better for me large. Who was right? Frankly I don’t know and I suspect we both were because although our subject was the same, our photography was very different. I preferred my approach though I could see what the other photographer had done.

So how to you change your printing size or even judge what size works best? There are several approaches. The easiest is to make sure you can move well back from your computer screen so you can vary the viewing distance. Fill the screen with the image and then vary your viewing distance from close to far away and see how the image responds. Zoom right into the image and judge how dependent it is for success on the detail it contains. For those who can, a data project is a wonderful tool. It lets you explore the really large sizes before you have to print. Just remember the projected image will be much lower resolution than your print will be. Think about the psychology of your image and how you want to use it. Should the viewer have an intimate and thus close engagement with the image or will a huge, in your face sort of impact work better? You will generally find the same size will work well for most, if not all, images within a body of work. This certainly makes for a more cohesive look in an exhibition, though some variety can also work in your favor. It depends on what suits the work.

Overcoming equipment and cost issues can be a creative exercise in itself. What about tiling your prints together to make a larger one, taping them together even or mounting them as separate pieces that hung together form a whole? Do a trade with a friend with a larger printer so you do something for them that they need in exchange for some larger prints. If you want to, there are ways around most limitations.

Digital Art Studio

Techniques for Combining Inkjet Printing with Traditional Art Materials
Digital Art Studio

Techniques for Combining Inkjet Printing with Traditional Art Materials

By Karin Schminke, Dorothy Simpson Krause and Bonny Pierce Lhotka

Published by Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004

ISBN 0-8230-1342-1

Digital Art Studio is a book about extending digital printing, mainly inkjet, by working with unusual media, transferring the digital image and overworking the digital print with other artist’s materials. As
such, it reminds me of the wonderful books on alternative photographic processes, like gum bi-chromates and cyanotypes, that I used to love in my darkroom days.

This is a how to book for digital artists, illustrators, photographers and crafters who like to get their hands dirty. If you have become bored with the uniformity and repetitive perfection of the digital print, this is the book for you. Chapters include:

  • Tools and Materials
  • Choosing Printing Surfaces
  • Creating Customized Surfaces
  • Underprinting Digital Images as a Base for Other Media
  • Overprinting Digital Images on Other Media
  • Wet Transfers to Absorbent Surfaces
  • Dry Emulsion Transfers to Non-absorbent and Dimensional Surfaces
  • Gelatin Transfers
  • Layering Prints with Collage and Paint
  • Creating Three-Dimensional Work
  • Printing on Fabric

There is also a useful glossary and resources section.

Written by three artists who have well established reputations as digital artists and print makers, the book is lavishly illustrated with their work. Step by step sections take you through each process. I like the fact that the book is not just limited to this step-by-step approach but also helps you to understand the basis of the process. This is essential, as everyone finds their own working process, this mix of a proven step-by-step approach plus a deeper understanding helps you to achieve this.

There is a good variation in the book from pretty simple processes to quite complex ones. All are handled well. You can read the book from cover to cover, as I did, or browse and dive in at random.

Who should get this book? I actually think anyone who is serious about their digital art and who works in print should get this book as a way to unlock your thinking, whether you actually use any of the techniques or not. Digital art students, design and photography students, crafters, art and photography hobbyists and scrapbookers looking to do something different should all buy it. I use it with my undergraduate (college) art, photography and design students to get them experimenting and thinking about alternatives.

Can the book be improved? Well, if they do a second edition, apart from adding any other processes the authors have come up with since this was written, I would like to see a section after the processes have been discussed that examines the aesthetic and conceptual thinking of an artist in how to decide when and why to use these techniques. The book is great, as is, at telling you how to do these things. I would like to see a section that discusses why to use them.