Developing New Markets: Art by ASI

“Getting involved with digital printing opened so many doors for us in reproducing other people’s fine-art work."

Karl Jaeger didn’t set out to be a specialist in giclée printing. But, as others have discovered, interest in digital print technology can add a new dimensions to an artist’s career.

“I first considered digital printing as a way to reproduce my work, then it morphed and evolved into something entirely else,” says Jaeger, both a photographer and master of colored-pencil drawings. With his father Frank and brother Chad, they now operate Art by ASI, in Buffalo, Minnesota. They bill themselves as specialists in fine-art and custom-canvas printing. ASI also offers custom-framing services, and maintains an art gallery at its office and on its website, where the public can purchase prints from Jaeger and several clients.

“Getting involved with digital printing opened so many doors for us in reproducing other people’s work,” he says. He’s relied on a succession of Epson printers since 2002 before investing in the company’s 8-color Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 almost two years ago.

An artist himself, he also sees economic incentives in digital fine art, both for archiving, and for reproducing work without the upfront investment once required to print a limited series.

“It’s the flexibility of digital printing, and the low risk of being able to sell their work without a huge investment that appeals to artists,” he says. “The beauty is we can offer them what amounts to a print-on-demand service. They can order their prints in small quantities, then re-order more only after they’ve sold them.”

As area artists learned of these capabilities, they began bringing their work to ASI. “We benefited from a lot of word-of-mouth, and never really had to promote this service,” he says. The company now serves approximately 25 artists working in a variety of media. “We do a lot of work for them on Epson’s canvas and other fine-art papers,” he notes. Typically, prints are in the 18 x 24-inch range, and most orders are for stretched canvas.

“Some will describe the work we do as a limited edition of their work, and number each print in a series of as many as 500,” he says. “It’s giving them a new and affordable way to develop new markets for their work.”

Speaking artist to artist, Jaeger can convey the advantages of digital printing in terms they understand, even advising them on how to price their fine-art prints. “This is all entirely new to some people,” he notes. “A good starting point is to figure at least three times the cost of the print.”

Artists can also draw ideas and inspiration from the ASI website, where the work of Jaeger and a select group of client artists can be purchased. Fine-art prints are offered on paper and canvas, in signed versions and limited series, with or without frames.

Jaeger’s own work focuses mainly on sports: regional teams, stadiums and venues, and star athletes in football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, and hockey. In fact, the ability to easily reproduce and mount digital prints sometimes leads to installations in the same types of venues he celebrates in his art and photography.

A recent project for the new Sanford Arena, home of the WCHA Beavers hockey team at Minnesota’s Bedimdji State University required a series of prints celebrating the team’s All-American players, chronologically arranged against a background highlighting the team history. Jaeger designed all the art, printed it on canvas and vinyl, and handled the installation.

“It combines three of our strong points: our artistic ability, adhesive vinyl application, and canvas stretched prints,” he notes.


View more from this Big Picture issue