Print on the wall

Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA, 2016

Curated Traveling Exhibition:
The purpose of this curation project is to bring Just Press Print, a cutting-edge group exhibition from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at the University of West England, Bristol (UWE, Bristol) to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD; and to engage local, national, and international audiences through well-rounded academic and public programming. A 16-week undergraduate class, one-day workshop, series of talks and a public lecture at MICA and reciprocal exhibition at UWE, Bristol, will supplement the three and a half month show. Just Press Print is on display in one of MICA’s three main galleries, Meyerhoff Gallery (1,148 square feet), from December 2015 to March 2016. The exhibition will continue to travel in the USA between 2016 – 2017, venues include the School of Art Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State; University of Utah, Salt Lake City; University of Wisconsin Madison  and University of Texas at Austin before finishing at Museum of Texas Tech University in June 2018.

_MG_8972_MG_8980_MG_8970Just Press Print is an international, traveling group exposition that explores the introduction of 21st century technologies within the predominantly mechanically defined discipline of printmaking. The exhibition will highlight artistic planning, collaborative practices, and the broadening possibilities for the graphic artefact in the digital age. The exhibition includes published prints evolved from collaborations between fourteen carefully selected artists and myself at the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) as part of CFPR Editions. The curitorial premise for the exhibtion and background to the collaborative practice can be found here.

_MG_8962The exhibition draws the attention of the audience to significant, yet often overlooked elements of the printing process. Sketches, correspondence, and draft editions to highlight the importance of the relationship between artist and master printer, the iterations necessary to achieve the final print, and the archiving and recording process accompany the artists’ work. The exhibition also touches upon the evolving nature of digital technology and its potential influence upon established definitions and practices within the field of printmaking. For further insights on the exhibition a preview / interview article was writen by Bruce MCkaig for the What Weekly publication in Baltimore here.

Stan Donwood, Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA,

Just Press Print will be supplemented with a 16-week academic course, with workshops, talks and lectures from a visiting artist, and reciprocal exhibition. MICA faculty Robert Tillman and Johnathan Thomas are running an undergraduate class entitled “Print and Technology” to engage students with the subject matter of Just Press Print. Students in the class will use MICA’s state of the art Digital Fabrication Studio to produce their own digital prints. The Digital Fabrication Studio houses 3D printers, laser cutters, computer-controlled milling machines, 3D scanners, and other equipment, and provide students technical support from trained technicians. Student work produced during the course will be curated into a reciprocal exhibition at UWE, Bristol that will include BA Illustration, BA Graphic Design and MA Printmaking. I will visit MICA’s campus to lead a workshop on digital print technology and give a series of talks with a public lecture. Public programs will be free and open to members of the MICA and surrounding community.

Just Press Print features cutting-edge prints that have been exhibited across the world including the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Mixer Gallery in Istanbul, Christies London and the University of Dundee. The project will provide a forum for raising the public’s awareness of innovative art works and ignite a renewed interest in the art of printmaking. Students will engage with and gain valuable skills in a range of new digital fabrication technologies. Finally, “Just Press Print” will engage professionals in the printmaking field, artists and designers, students and faculty, and art and design enthusiasts.

Carolyn Bunt, Just Press Print Exhibition, Meyerhoff Gallery MICA,

Intended beneficiaries include MICA students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends; Baltimore City and an extended network of artists, designers, curators, educators, and art patrons across the U.S. Just Press Print’s goal is to engage the public with the possibilities of print in the digital age – aligning with MICA’s commitment and expertise in community engagement. The show dispenses with conventional formats, instead displaying 2D and 3D digital prints along with sketches, notes, email correspondence, and test proofs bundled in bulldog clips that hang informally from the walls. This curatorial approach, which emphasizes the creative process, increases understanding of print practices for artists, academics, students, teachers, and the general public by creating visual narratives for a range of competency levels. Public programming will include an inclusive talk on the iterative and collaborative decision making process.

Participating artists include Carolyn Bunt, Arthur Buxton, Gordon Cheung, Paul Coldwell, Stanley Donwood, Richard Falle, Paul Laidler, Sebastian Schramm, Andrew Super and Roy Voss.

The exhibition publication Working Proof: Featuring Just Press Print is available as an e-publication and a printed version through Newspaper Club which is available to purchase.

Photography by J. Thomas and P. Laidler

Evidence of presented lectures and talks at MICA can be seen through the links below.

Master’s of the Printverse

Ben Rowe, Batteries not included, MDF
Ben Rowe, Batteries not included, MDF Sculpture
Artist Ben Rowe

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

On numerous occasions I have witnessed academics, artists, commentators and students make links between new print technologies and Science Fiction. Whether or not this is a light hearted connection it is undoubtedly a reoccurring phenomenon for example; Sci Fi and Print from Printeresting, Sci Fi inspired Workshops at MIT, RISD & Brown and Workshop 4 at VCU Qatar. I have tentatively explored similar themes in my own work but have always wanted to broaden this connection beyond my own thinking / making. More recently these sentiments have begun to take shape as part of a CFPR Editions collaborative print studio production, after a few conversation with Sci-Fi inspired artist Ben Rowe . I am therefore pleased to say that we have undertaken a collaborative project with a view to turning one of Rowe’s remarkably detailed sculptures into a limited print edition.

Ben Rowe describes the process behind his work, in part, as a ‘morphing of the digital world into a physical object,’ the intrigue and interest in the collaboration lies in the reimagining of the reversal of that process. In this instance the object is digitally captured before being rendered back into the physical as an analogue print edition. After visiting Ben in his Spike Island studio (studio 43) and discussing ideas in the following weeks we decided that the sculpture titled Batteries Not Included would be the first work to be editioned as a relief print.

In this instance the print project is the epitome of a collaborative studio endeavor when considering all of the contributors.

Artist: Ben Rowe
Project Initiator: Paul Laidler
Photographic Capture: Andrew Super
Digital File Preperation: Richard Falle
Flexo Plate Production: John McNaught
Relief Printing: Andrew Super

CFPR Editions' Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe's sculpture
CFPR Editions’ Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe’s sculpture
CFPR Editions' Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe's sculpture
CFPR Editions’ Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe’s sculpture
Andrew Super embossing Ben Rowe Print
Flexo plate
Ben Rowe, Batteries Not Included, 2014, Relief Print
Ben Rowe, Batteries Not Included, 2014, Relief Print

Recent interview by Coats & Scarry on Rowe’s work here


Donwoods Woods

Stanley Donwood, 'Wait here and I will come for you' (2013)
Stanley Donwood, ‘Wait here and I will come for you’ (2013)

Collaborative Print Studio Project
A little over a year ago I began discussing the possibility of producing a print edition with the artist Stanley Donwood as part of CFPR Editions. A year later we were pleased to edition two new laser engraved artworks (February Holloway, 2013 & Wait here we will come for you, 2013) that later coincided with Donwood’s Solo exhibition ‘Far away is close at hand in images of everywhere‘ at the Outside Gallery, Soho, London 2013.

Intro to the project
The project was developed from a body of work described by the artist as his ‘tree period’ and inspired by Holloways (hidden country footpaths) and other arboreal scenes; this work is also featured in a bestselling book of the same name and formed the artwork for Radiohead’s latest record, The King of Limbs. So just to clarify Holloway lanes are characterised by an over-arching avenue of fauna that creates a natural tunnel effect. ‘In the lead up to making these pieces I became fascinated with the idea of a cathedral of sound,’ says Donwood. ‘I was working with Radiohead on the record that was to become The King of Limbs, and my early hearings of the music seemed to suggest an over-arching canopy of detail.’

Whilst working on the Holloway book, Donwood slept overnight under some of the canopies in south Dorset, most of which have since been cut down. He then drew the canopies from memory back at his studio. It was this body of arboreal drawings that were used as a starting point to develop Donwood’s edition with CFPR Editions.

The Bends (1995), Ok Computer (1997) & Atoms for Peace (2013)
The Bends (1995), Ok Computer (1997) & Atoms for Peace (2013)

For those of you who may not know Stanley Donwood he is best known for his work with the band Radiohead who he has created artwork for since the group’s inception in 1985. Donwood and frontman Thom Yorke met at Exeter University and the two are often thought to be one and the same, despite accepting a Grammy award together for the band’s packaging in 2002.

Stanley Donwood & Paul Laidler, Artists studio (2013).
Stanley Donwood & Paul Laidler, Artists studio (2013). see more images here

Collaborative bit
When approaching an artist about producing a print edition our studio approach often begins by showing the artist a process, material or tool that they may not have encountered before. This technically led approach can sometimes offer a different, new or novel option for the artist and is often considered to be the main collaborative contribution of the editioning studio. In most cases the studio’s affiliation with print process is a pragmatic one yet this form of practice based activity often initiates dialogues that reveal rich insights about the artists practice and the realisation of printed matter.

This practice based engagement with making and production considerations has become central to CFPR Editions philosophy and subsequent area of contribution concerning; the production of digitally mediated artworks and the fostering of practice based insights within this emerging arena. With this in mind (and given that Donwood has produced both mechanical and digital prints in recent years) I hoped to develop a project that would offer the artist a different digital process but perhaps more importantly a resulting image where the binary fused with the organic.

As previously mentioned the dialogue between studio and artist is central to developing further insights about the discipline of printmaking and I therefore felt it only necessary to ask the artist about his interest/observations/ position /relationship with new and old technologies. The artist offered the following thoughts,

‘Each generation is seduced to an extent by the technology of it’s own time; if our civilisation doesn’t collapse in the near future there will presumably come a time when 3D printing is perceived as quaint and old-timey.
I think that when what we see as ‘technology’ first began to develop at a rapid pace, during the Industrial Revolution, people saw a dizzying parade of developments in almost every field. Suddenly there were machines for everything from sewing to locomotion, and I suppose that something of that almost magical essence remains present in the cast iron of printing presses, steam engines and so on.
There’s a sense in which that level of technology is ageless; if something breaks any semi competant engineer can figure out what’s gone wrong and then fix it. If we are no longer able to generate sufficient electricity it won’t matter, as these machines were never designed with electricity in mind. There are no silicon chips.
There’s also the problem of mathematics and the binary nature of digital technology. Digits are what we have attempted to replace everything with, but the things, objects, and aesthetics we are demanding were never digital to begin with, and something unnameable in the human spirit is well aware of this. People instinctively prefer the human-generated curves of a classic car; the sweep of the arm is more beautiful than a digitally created vector.
I could go on and on, but I have now put on my tshirt that says DON’T GET ME STARTED’.

To be continued…

A quick overview of the production

Original drawings used to create editions
Original drawings used to create editions

Proofing stage
Proofing stage

The engraved editions (February Holloway & Wait here we will come for you) were developed from two separate pencil and ink drawings that the artist had produced prior to discussing any potential editioning of the images. In this instance the CFPR Editions team were supplied with high res scans of the drawings that were then digitally adjusted for the laser cutting process. As part of the proofing procedure the digital files were engraved in to a number of paper substrates that produced varying tactile and tonal qualities – through different paper manufacturers, weights and colours. This paper testing procedure offered a number of qualitative material considerations for the engraved image and gave the first indications as to how certain hand drawn qualities had been recorded, translated and rendered for the new eidtioned work. Once the paper tests were complete the digital files were then rendered as ‘raster engravings’ – taking around 6 hours to cut and produced as a limited edition of 6 artworks on paper.

February Holloway & Wait here we will come for you
February Holloway & Wait here we will come for you

Upon viewing the completed raster engravings Donwood commented that, ‘the results are quite mesmerising; to me it looks as if trained paper-eating bacteria have been told to make a picture. The vaporised images look very organic.’  

Technical laser bit

The laser process uses carbon dioxide that is excited in a chamber. Emerging as light from an aperture in the chamber, the beam is focused by a series of mirrors, a lens and through a nozzle down to a thickness of approximately 0.2mm. When the beam comes in to contact with a material it cuts through by vaporising it. The nozzle moves across the surface of the material on an x and y axis that allows designs to be cut or engraved with a high level of accuracy and complexity in a variety of materials. In summary this specific laser cutting technology involves the use of a powerful laser to cut, etch or engrave into textiles, paper, card, plastics, vinyls, glass and some types of wood. A computer controls the path of the laser over the bed to melt, burn or vaporise the material.

CFPR Editions would like to thank Verity Lewis for her assistance with editioning, documenting, marketing and over all enthusiastic contribution to the project. Also Sarah Barnes and Tom Sowden for their technical advise with the laser cutting process. I would also like to say a special thank you to Stanley Donwood for his poetic engagement with the translation process and general enthusiasm around the possibilities for the work – that made the collaborative relationship all the more enriching for the editions team.

Visualising Colour Tends

Arthur Buxton, Vogue Covers series, 2012

From collaborative print studio project to research bid:

In 2011 I invited UK based artist Arthur Buxton to produce a limited edition fine art print with CFPR Editions. The invitation was led by my preoccupation with artworks / artefacts that traverses the physical & digital divide and how this post digital space maybe located within a Graphic Arts discipline. In the case of Arthur I was predominantly interested in the use of printed matter in his work and the open source software method applied to sample colour information. The sample tool (and briefly) extracts the most prominent colours from an image by counting the pixels to create a percentage along with the  hexadecimal code for each most prominent colour. I’m beginning to feel this thread is about to go off on a bit of a tangent, as it is not really about Arthurs work per se (more about that here), but how this collaboration developed into something more than the production of a limited edition print.

Fast forward four Fine Art limited edition inkjet prints later and we find ourselves at the Pervasive Media Studio on the REACT Books & Print Sandbox (it’s like a workshop). REACT is a partnership between UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England), Watershed and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it is a unique collaboration supporting innovative products and transformational services by bringing together companies and academics across South West and Wales. In summary the workshop facilitated ideas for individuals wanting to maximise the potential of printed matter, a material experience that is being transformed through new digital platforms. Following a few conversations Arthur and I decided to situate his sampling methods for creating printed artworks at the centre of a funding application.

Artist Arthur Buxton, Oryx Premium (Inflight Magazine) Qatar Airways, Jan 2013

Beyond the artist practice:

The use of colour trend visualisation tools has predominantly been used by specialist design orientated disciplines that often cater for industry-based outcomes. Our approach would attempt to broaden the audience and scope of such tools. We aimed to do this by engaging with creative approaches for personalising and producing printed matter generated through pervasive mobile technology. For example the bridging of physical (capture) to digital (sampling) and back to physical (print) for creative enthusiasts would allow the user to engage with the transition and physicality of colour through abstract and novel description of their world. So that was the idea anyway… but we didn’t get the funding!

However in 2012 we did receive one of REACT’S Pump Priming Awards, part of the Prototype and Feasibility scheme within their Strategic Fund programme. The funding was designed to either support collaborations to take their first steps or to fund the development of a proto-type. For our feasibility funded project we proposed to use the money to test the sampling process with a range of different user groups and produce a market research report. The purpose of the study was to identify potential target markets for an easy to use colour trend visualisation software – and hopefully secure further funding to develop the app.

Gathering information:

To do this we invited attendees to take part in the free one-day session. Participants were selected from Art, Design and Education – along with Media Professionals who would potentially offer specialist insight on the process and hopefully how to improve the sampling tool. The workshop investigated target audiences and scoped the development of easy-to-use software to engage users with the world around them through colour. The day offered attendees the opportunity to learn how to digitally capture, sample and construct their own colour trend visualisations using the online software ImageColour Extract and PicPie. With this in mind we asked participants to bring a range of source material that could be used for the process i.e. objects, printed publications, photographs and / or images found online for example. As this was the first workshop of its kind we also wanted participants who could offer guidance on the design of the workshop scenarios.

The ten attendees were:
David Abbot – Designer; Graphics / Web; Frea Abbot – Artist, Printmaking; Alex Butterworth – Art History; Owen Davies – Videogames, Sound;Verity Lewis – Graphic Design, Photography; Tom Metcalf – Designer, Apps; Orla Joan – Graphic Design, Motion Design, Photography; Melissa Olson – Colour, Print, Researcher; Andrew Super – Photographer; Anthony Wilkins – Fashion Design.

This is how the project was pitched: How might people tell stories with colour, reimagine their photographs and create bespoke, personal printed artefacts using any collection of images? By using artist Arthur Buxton’s working methods the day will explore the field of colour trend visualization. The workshop aims to broaden the appeal of this process to a wider audience and hopefully engage users to the potential of interpreting their experiences through colour – with the option of creating personalised printed artefacts that express their interests and tastes. 

Colour Trend Workshop 2013
Colour Trend Workshop 2013

A brief overview of the day:

To begin the day an explanation and brief demonstration of the process and software was provided. Prior to the task, participants had been asked to think of a set of images to apply to the process. They were able to choose any images they wanted but were reminded to give their choice of images careful consideration in terms of what colours that wanted to contrast and why.

To create their colour trend visualisations participants were able to choose from PicPie or ImageColour Extract software. They were also given the option of batching the charts on an A2 Photoshop canvas. Participants were able to output their charts individually on the laser printer at A4 size, or batched on the laser printer, also A4. A selection of the batched charts was also output at A2 on a wide format inkjet printer.

Colour Trend Workshop, 2013

Once the participants had completed their task they were invited to discuss their choice of images with the group as part of a round table discussion. They were asked to explain why they chose the images they did and if they were satisfied with the results. They were also asked weather any resulting printed material lived up to their expectations. We asked them what additional software features might have improved the results. We used this method as a means of ascertaining novel real world uses for the software, the corresponding requirements and functionality. One of the participant examples to follow.

Participant Example: Alex Butterworth
Source material: World war 1 and 2 propaganda posters.
Output: A2 poster using PicPie comparing the colours of posters from British, Italian, German and American posters.

Alex Butterworth, WWII Propaganda Posters

Feedback: Alex reflected that all the countries ‘national palettes’ translated easily to the pie charts. He suggested that it might have been useful to give extra weighting to a particular point or sections of an image.

Development Aim: Option for a selection feature that would offer more localised sampling within parts of an image

The majority of participant feedback referred to control and refinement parameters for the open source software. There was however one noteable exception that appeared to highlight an emotional attachment to an image. In this instance a participant had sampled work from their favorite artist and then applied the same sampling process to their own artwork. The colours sampled by the software for the selected artist were considered as pleasing and reasonably accurate, yet when the same process was applied to their own images the results were not what the participant considered to be the best representation of how they saw the images. This raised similar developmental aims as previously discussed around more user control and highlighted that some images may contain colour groups that compliment the sampling process. The majority of this analysis is weighted toward quantitative colour accuracy. However when an individual has an extended experience with an image or event more qualitative expectations of it’s rendering become part of the process – an observation that differentiate the development of the project from other colour sampling software.

Education workshop

Colour Trend Workshop, 2013

We also took the opportunity to run the workshop for a group of BA (Hons) Fashion students at the University of the West of England, Bristol with some added (preparation) descriptions about the software.

Think about the colours – forget about composition!
Forget about focus and resolution – they don’t matter (Great when using a camera phone!)
Think about lighting – minimize shadows where possible
Close ups tend to work well – go macro! (But don’t restrict yourself to one format)
Keep backgrounds to a minimum – fill the frame
If you do have irrelevant backgrounds – crop.


Boateng & Mcqueen samples

The opportunity to disseminate the project to University students was presented as a lecture and live brief opportunity (competition) for UWE BA (Hons) Illustration students in January 2015 as part of a Professional Practice module. The module (amongst other things) addressed entrepreneurial activity in the creative industries and how students might create collectives to develop graphic orientated projects for crowd funding.


Lets not forget that this post is not about disseminating results but an indication as to what happened and how we aim to move forwards.

With this in mind the project intends to find ways of framing “stories” that users would be telling through the process. This will allow individuals to make their collections of charts into unique, personal, visual narratives in the form of printed artworks i.e. ‘telling their stories with colour’. Real world examples might include books recording the colours of outfits at a wedding, collecting the signature palettes used by your favorite graffiti artists or simply asking “what colours summaries my summer in Bristol?” We expect a social element would emerge with users sharing their colours via social media, which will provide us with free viral advertising.

Our novel publishing tool would provide an alternative route into art print publishing. Easy to use print output options allowing for customizable pagination and page size would provide enthusiasts with a fun entry-level way to experiment with print design and narrative. To be continued…

The seed of an idea

Gordon Cheung, Tulipomania, 2013, Lost wax cast 3D Print in Brass with 18 Karat Gold finish
Gordon Cheung, Tulipomania, 2013, Lost wax cast 3D Print in Brass with 18 Karat Gold finish

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

Publishers and Print Studio’s will approach artists to produce editions for a range of different reasons that may include; long standing friendships, a studio specialism, economic benefits or for esteem indicators to name but a few. CFPR Editions is situated within a University context and as an academic who seeks to publish editions with artists I am always keen to initiate projects that can be motivated beyond financial return which the publishing industry is dictated by. With this in mind I’m always on the look out for artists, practices or projects that may extend the field of print or put simply to take a few risks, go with my gut feeling and invest in the up an coming. To start this process I tend to read quite a bit to see what is going on in the world of Print and perhaps more importantly on its boarders. This will then point one in certain directions whilst being mindful of particular trends. The print project initiated with artist Gordon Cheung developed after reading about the artists work that referred to a technological informed scene with phrases such as; between the virtual and actual realities; oscillating between Utopia and Dystopia and epic techno-sublime vistas.

Gordon Cheung was born 1975 in London; he studied painting at Central St Martins College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London from where he graduated in 2001. Cheung and many others of his generation fall into an interesting and maybe unique category where a new generation of artists have grown up amid the digital revolution and subsequently inspired by the new media of our age. One might speculate that science fiction films such as Star Wars, 2001 and Blade Runner have helped to forge a common imagination, as well as sparking a willingness to think and create in technological terms. More importantly this generation has witnessed the transition between analogue and digital, enabling a understanding of the materiality and tangibility of technology compared with the all digital and immaterial that prevailed at the start of the digital era.

Cheung’s art has been said to look to the future, whilst remaining firmly rooted in the past. The project undertaken at the CFPR provides a historical reflection of contemporary culture through the exploration of the Dutch Golden Age, a period of extraordinary wealth and power in 16th- and 17th- century Holland. The title of the work 
‘Tulipmania’ was a notorious episode in 17th-century Dutch history, in which the trading of tulip bulbs became so extreme that the price of one flower would sell for ten times the annual wage of a skilled worker. ‘Tulipmania’ was the world’s first recorded major financial crash an occurrence that the artist has drawn upon for this work, highlighting that economic bubbles are not a modern-day phenomenon.

The tulip bulb for the series refers to the Rothschild bulb that was selected by the artist whilst visiting Amsterdam in 2013. The artist explains that the bulb is named after one of the most powerful banking family dynasties in history and therefore a principle player in spreading Capitalism globally.

Overview of the Tulipomanaia Project:

In 2013 CFPR Editions completed the first 3D printed bulb series for the artist Gordon Cheung. By using an Identica dental scanner (with assistance from Robert Keogh at 3dScan Alliance in Bristol) we were able to record the three dimensional surface of a tulip bulb. The capture data was then used to create five separate files as part of a devolutionary print series.

3D Scanning of Tulip Bulb
3D Scanning of Tulip Bulb

In the photographic recording above you can see the five devolutionary stages of the bulb that begins with the original high resolution 3D recording on the left (constructed of 381,774 triangles) toward the simplification or decimation of the object as a pyramid structure on the right. The lowering of resolution in each 3D file eventually begins to reveal the triangular structures that are formed to create the final object – an image construction process similar to a digital photograph and the building of visual information through pixels. However in this instance the lowest resolution would always be a pyramid rather than a square.

Before the printing process begins the 3D files are set to a specific number of triangles that are then ‘cleaned’ (by adding or subtracting triangles in a 3D software program) to make sure that the model is ‘water tight’ for the printing process. The print ready object is then uploaded to the 3D print on demand company imaterialise to complete the process.

The company is able to render 3D files in a range of materials and in this instance the model is 3D printed in wax then dipped into a ceramic slip – an ancient process known as lost wax casting. The ceramic coated bulb is then baked in an oven that melts the wax whilst hardening the ceramic exterior, creating a shell that is then filled with molten brass. The brass is then plated to have an 18kt goldish appearance.

Paul Laidler & Gordon Cheung in London Studio
Paul Laidler & Gordon Cheung in London Studio

Collaborative print team contributors include: Peter Walters, Robert Keogh, Gordon Cheung and Paul Laidler

Just Press Print

Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012

Curated Traveling Exhibition:

Over the last 25 years we have seen new digital tools and processes enter the traditional domain of the collaborative print studio. These developments have, to some degree brought into question the role of the traditional print studio model if we consider the ubiquitous nature of digital resources and their impact upon previous associations with specialist tools and facilities. Similarly the technological developments in inkjet, laser cutting and rapid prototyping are contributing to an expanding field of digital production methods and the subsequent realisation of digitally mediated artefacts.

Within the context of a collaborative print studio practice, the exhibition format is presented as a graphic dialogue of printed matter – revealing the emergent and interpretative possibilities for the graphic artefact in the digital age. This exhibition title Just Press Print was chosen to highlight that although digital printing has a ‘print’ button, the significant elements for the creation of the digital print are often overlooked: the relationship and conversation between artist and publisher/ master printer, the iterations that are necessary to achieve the final print, the need for archiving and recording the process.

Exhibition Review:

The following review of the Just Press Print exhibition at the Northern Print Gallery is by Sara Ogilvie, an artist, illustrator and Senior Lecturer in Imagemaking within Graphic Design, Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK.

‘Most often an exhibition consists of marveling at polished final outcomes. Just Press Print, curated by Dr Paul Laidler from The Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at University of the West of England, is an invitation to explore beyond this and get under the skin of the print process in its many forms.

CFPR is renowned for its cutting edge print facilities so it is no surprise to see an eclectic range of published prints on display. These recent prints have evolved from CFPR collaborations with a carefully selected group of artists. From mind bending vectors of flaming ice creams to 3D polymer Lichtenstein-esque knuckledusters each project vies for your attention to uncover how it came to be.

Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012

Layers of paper sketches, notes and test proofs bundled in bulldog clips hang informally from the walls. Rifle through these pages and you can share in the artist and printer exchange; eavesdrop on dialogue, decision-making and the ups and downs of the creative process that unfurls. It is this factor that pulls the diversity of artists together in this show and hooks the viewer into the work.

Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012

Designer Sebastian Schramm’s brief email asking, ‘Don’t you want to sell my prints?’ is a forthright invite which lead to a long distance collaboration between Schramm in Germany and Paul Laidler in the UK. The exchange is at times rapid fire, bouncing feedback on scale and colour, correcting digital photographic images of porcelain figurines augmented with unexpected head balloons in an exploration or alienation and individual behavior. The final edition of large saturated inkjets is vivid, striking and unsettling in equal measure.

Like Schramm each exhibiting artist opens the doors to their process and it is this welcoming, inclusive quality that is so refreshing. In Paul Coldwell’s accompanying visual chronicle we see more of the artist in the throes of the project. Scrawled sketchbook pages, noting the music playing in the studio and a packet of Trebor mints stray into shot. With a jaunty thumbs up over the printing press the atmosphere suggests a more easy going tempo in comparison to Schramm’s.

Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012

Coldwell’s outcome, ‘Lines and Branches’, shows two relief prints taken from laser cut MDF, which are also on display, depicting treetops coarsely treated with exaggerated halftone dots. Small personal artifacts are depicted such as letters, kirby grips and combs, items that keep strands together, separate or suggest lines of correspondence all related to family trees.

There are some fine examples of 3D printing on display. Katie Davies and Peter Walters have created ’Vela’ (2011) an elegant ghostlike form sitting quietly on its shelf. Inspired by remote constellations it is a transformation of audio data from a pulsar star into a 3D rapid prototype. In contrast to this is Brendan Reid’s Manta Ray, a 3D technicolour prototype with a rhythm of rainbow stripes shouting for attention.

Other intriguing colour concepts of note are Arthur Buxton’s obsessive digital data visualisations of British Vogue covers from 1981-2011. Like scrambled TV test cards predominant and common colours come to the fore in ordered bars. The results show that trend colour preferences have lightened in tone over the last 30 years.

This show undoubtedly displays the forward thinking ethos of CFPR in relation to digital technologies however it is encouraging to see everything in the mix; traditional, digital and 3D technologies are interwoven here.

Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012
Just Press Print Exhib, Northern Print, 2012

It successfully spotlights how specialist guidance and liaison can help artists discover and ‘make’ in new ways, leading to unexpected print territories and possibilities. In his PhD curator, artist and CFPR printer Paul Laidler has explored whether the role of Master printer is still relevant in todays technological democratisation. This exhibition firmly suggests it is’.

CFPR Editions

Home Page image from

Fine Art Print Publishing Project.

The collaborative print studio has had a profound impact upon the production and realisation of some of the most innovative prints within the discipline of fine art printmaking. Traditionally these activities have centred upon the hand and mechanical print, two cornerstones of the fine art print industry that may have less persuasion in the digital age. With these historical print precedents as my point of reference and building off of my PhD (that centred upon practice led methods with artists producing inkjet prints) I wanted to begin exploring the broader production and realisation possibilities for the digitally mediated print edition. The contemporary print publishing market would provide the context to consider the output and role of such a publishing studio.

In early 2012 I submitted this idea as a proposal for an early career research grant that was then funded £14000 by UWE  allowing me to instigate a collaborative digital print studio model and develop a publishing studio within the University. Between 2012 and 2016 I invited and worked collaboratively with fifteen artists, producing 52 separate editions that equated to 488 prints.

From a research output perspective the project has enabled me write six journal articles and present at three conferences (two international and one national). The generation of printed artworks allowed me to exhibit the work as a publisher (representing the CFPR) and as a curator of the Just Press Print show. In total I exhibit the collaborative productions at eight international and six national venues. I was also invited to speak about the research project at six international and eight national higher education institutions. The initiation and development of one particular artist edition led to two co-authored research projects that were awarded £11000 and £50000. The University publishing practice also afforded me to have two UWE  internship positions during this time and I would therefore like to acknowledge the assistance of Verity Winslow and Meggie Wood. It is also worth noting that all of the print production and exhibition costs during this period were paid for by the sale of editions.

The publishing studio is still running today and is situated within the Center for Fine Print Research – and aptly named CFPR Editions. A large percentage of my projects with artists, research activity and art practice is informed by the digitally mediated print and subsequently the work produced through CFPR Editions has been instrumental in a large portion of the things you will find on this site.


Shock and Awe Project

(Left to right) Richard Hamilton and Prof Steve Hoskins, CFPR, UWE

Collaborative Print Project
After the successful printing of Richard Hamilton’s Typo-Topgraphy of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass in 2004 the artist returned to the CFPR studio to produce a number of further inkjet printed works. The latter of these works was an ink-jet on canvas print entitled Shock and Awe 2010. The project was developed in conjunction with Hewlett Packard and the Getty Institute to create a specially manufactured ink-jet coated linen canvas for the output of Hamilton’s digital file.

Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 18.00.27Richard Hamilton’s son Rod Hamilton generated the digital image and the print proofing was undertaken at the CFPR. The proofing of the image on canvas was performed over a six-month period allowing for proportional revisions to the figure and colour alterations to the different Photoshop™ layers within the image. To monitor these alterations, a rigurous documentary procedure was used to archive each proofing stage, so that Hamilton could compare the different proofing states over the lengthy duration of the project.

Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 17.55.40_MG_6373The printings of the canvas also brought up further considerations for coating the ink-jet surface, as a means to protect the printed layer from scratches and enhance the colour of the image. The logistics for spray coating such a large surface area lead to further collaboration with the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam and their coatings department.

By using the collaborative print studio method as part of a practice lead project, the artist’s aspirations for an ink-jet print have instigated the development of a new ink-jet substrate and an alternative to current canvas coating options within the fine art printing market. The project also demonstrated the identification and utilisation of external print production collaborators for the holistic practice of the fine art digital print studio.

Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 18.29.59
Richard Hamilton: Modern Moral Matters exhibition, Shock and Awe, 2007 – 2008. Installation view Serpentine Gallery, London 
(3rd March – 25th April 2010). Photograph: Gautier de Blonde

Edition Information
Medium: Pigmented Inkjet Print
Substrate: HP Linen Canvas
Substrate Dimensions: Width 105.5 cm x 205.5 cm
Image Dimensions: Width 105.5 cm x 205.5 cm
Edition Size: 3

Scape Project

Neeta Madahar and Jo Lansley, Scape 2007

Collaborative Print Studio Project:
In 2007 I worked with the artist Neeta Madahar (represented by Purdy Hicks Gallery, London) on a two month long project that comprised of practices relating to photography, performance and printmaking. The collaborative project proposed by artists Neeta Madahar and Jo Lansley brought together their practices in photography and performance, the latter was led by Lansley and the photographic documentry component was undertaken by Madahar. The development of a print edition with the two artists discussed a number of image generation possibilities before deciding to focus on a recent project that they had undertaken that would be exhibited in Paris later that year. To begin the project Madahar brought a selection of 5 x 4 colour negatives to the studio that were to be used to begin the digital print project. From the selection, two negatives were chosen to be digitally recorded and enlarged to Madahar’s specifications for the final printed image. The project required two main production phases that included joining the separately photographed images and colour retouching the combined image.

Options marked for digital collaging for Scape, 2007

Discussions concerning the marriage of the two digital images towards the creation of a single work examined the possibility of digitally merging the photographic images. The desired outcome was to produce a seamless photographic image rather than a print which had the appearance of a collaged photographic space.

A series of digital collage combinations were discussed and tested prior to printing the file. The initial discussions developed through e-mail correspondence and sketched instructions from Madahar regarding the methods for combining the digital files for a seamless photographic appearance. For an example of this discussion and sketch process see the following image and e-mail copy.Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 14.48.33

From the provisional tests, Madahar felt that the space presented in the image appeared contrived, this was partly due to the fact that the presentation method had not been considered when taking the photographs. After a number of variations were tested, Madahar decided that the separate images may be better presented as a diptych. Madahar referred to the panel works of David Hilliard as an alternative method for combining the separately recorded images.

David Hilliard, Home, Office, Evening, Day. 2006

The combining strategy meant that the images were printed separately although the adjustment methods for the printed proofs were considered collectively. This meant that the two prints had to look as if they were from the same timeframe, so that the quality of light and tonal information appeared consistent.
N_MadaharTo begin matching the tonal information between the two files, a number of colour adjustments were made to large areas of the images before the full-scale proof was produced. The proceeding adjustments made in response to Madahar’s assessment of the full-scale proofing gradually became smaller as the process was refined to specific locations of the image. The refinements to the smaller areas were proofed in strip sections to be compared with the previously full-scale printed image.
Madahar was only present in the studio on three occasions throughout the duration of the project, so in order to manage the studio time effectively, the proofed sections were printed ready for Madahar’s inspection on each visit. To manage the large number of printed proofs, each printed strip was labelled with information documenting the date, print parameters and Photoshop™ adjustment methods.

P. Laidler & N. Madahar 2007

Recorded with traditional Photography formats, the digital rendering of Scape enables the work to traverse the fields of photography, painting and printmaking. The increase in scale of the 5 x 4 photographic image draws parallels with the scale of paintings, whilst the magnification of the colour negatives’ grain adds a painterly appearance to the surface of the photographic image. Together with the soft, matt-printed surface, the photographic image reflects printmaking’s interests in surface quality and the physicality of ink on paper.
The photographic recordings of the tableaux environments together with the image adjustments for the Scape image share similarities with digital retouching methods used in the fashion-advertising industry, for example tonal and colour adjustments used to enhance the appearance of an image. The two retouching methods only begin to differ in relation to the production and parameters of the printed artefact. Within a fashion context, retouching is often confined to a screen-based image and determined by the parameters of mass production printing for magazines and advertising displays.
Within a fine art print context, the retouching methods are intrinsically linked to the physicality of the image surface and the digital rendering of the image as a limited edition fine art print. The production process is also susceptible to the varying changes that are brought about through the artist’s decision making process.

Typo Topography Project

Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, 2012
The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), by Marcel Duchamp 1915 -1923. Photo taken at Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, 2012

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

I have always had a fascination with copies, reproductions, facsimilies, replica’s, translations and multiples in the visual art’s (and beyond). Perhaps an obvious link as to why I work in print. Anyway a few years ago I was incredibly fortunate to work on a fine art digital print edition with the late artist Richard Hamilton who (at the time) had created a digital drawing of Duchamp’s Large Glass work. More specifically Hamilton had constructed a graphic representation or ‘blue print’ of Duchamp’s image to be printed at a 1:1 scale.

For this project post I’m not going to discuss the printing of the file (you can find out more about the printing element in Chapter 5 in my thesis here), instead I want to discuss the reproductive procedures that Hamilton employed in the ‘remaking’ of Duchamp’s Large Glass – Painting / Sculpture.

Reproducing Procedures:

Prior to the generation of the digital file, Richard Hamilton had collaborated with Marcel Duchamp between 1957 and 1965-6 towards the translation and reconstruction of Duchamp’s sculptural piece The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass), 1915 -1923. In 1957, together with the art historian George Heard Hamilton, Richard Hamilton began translating Duchamp’s notes from The Green Box (1934) into English, which were later published by Hamilton as The Green Book in 1960.

In 1965 Hamilton, aided by Duchamp, began a reconstruction of The Bride Stripped bare by her Bachelors for a Duchamp retrospective Hamilton would curate for the (then) Tate Gallery in 1966. The reconstruction was aided by the fact that Duchamp’s sculpture was too fragile to travel from its permanent installation in the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, USA.

The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6 at Tate Modern
The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6. Tate Modern Exhib June 2010 States of Flux: Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Hamilton.
reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6.
Sieves reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6. Tate Modern Exhib States of Flux: Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Marcel Duchamp and Richard Hamilton, June 2010.









Hamilton’s reconstruction took around a year to complete, prior to being signed by Duchamp at the opening of the exhibition in 1966. Using the previously translated notes as a guide, Hamilton sought “to reconstruct procedures rather than imitate the effects of action.” Subsequently the results of Hamilton’s approach does not afford a direct visual copy but a transcription of Duchamp’s making instructions. From this perspective, Hamilton’s reconstruction used the same materials as Duchamp’s Large Glass to replicate the original work rather than copy the effects of age.

The replication of colour in the Sieves for instance, was a system- based procedure using “’time’ and ‘dust’ to produce a transparent pastel colour”. Hamilton later used these kinds of colour descriptions when we were proofing the digital file at CFPR for Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, 2003, requesting that colours be formulated as ‘chocolate’ or ‘lead’ in reference to Duchamp’s text.  The print allows two separate works to exist together, the text from The Green Book and the image of the sculpture The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6.

S. Hoskins, R. Hamilton & P. Laidler at the the CFPR 2003
S. Hoskins, R. Hamilton & P. Laidler at the the CFPR 2003
Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamps Large Glass.
Inkjet Print of Typo-Topography of Marcel Duchamps Large Glass.
Illustrator file of the Sieves section
Illustrator file of the Sieves section