Fine Art, Strong Heart in Chi-Town
JS Graphics custom-print studio, located about five miles from Print13, is passionate for fine art.
“Fine-art work is not for the faint of heart,” says Jon Scott, owner of JS Graphics, a custom-print studio located just about five miles from McCormick Place.
In business since 1983, the shop has re-invented itself every three or four years, says Scott, in order to keep the revenues coming in. “We’re graphic artists – we’ve learned to digitize anything, for whatever needs – from offset to inkjet, for any process,” he says. “But fine art is our passion.”
JS Graphics (www.chicagofineartstudio.com) offers a plethora of services, including museum-quality digital printmaking, image restoration, retouching, image compositing, a variety of prepress services such as high-end scanning, and more. Its clientele range from photographers and fine artists to magazines, hospitality clients, and various high-end customers including museums and galleries. Most customers hail from the Chicago area, although the shop has succeeded in garnering some clients from out of state, “primarily because of our quality work and customer service,” Scott reports.
The shop’s output is executed on various printers, including a couple of Canon imageProGraf models (iPF9000 and iPF8300) as well as a trio of Epsons (Stylus Pro 9800, 4880, and 4800). JS also has invested in several scanners: two Screen Cézannes, two Epsons (4870, 1640XL), and its most recent acquisition: a previously owned DiCoMed digital scanning back, which has been modified in-house.
“Some of the older technology and machines can still work – new doesn’t always necessarily mean better,” says Scott. “If a machine just needs a minor tweak, we’ll evaluate it and make a decision on whether or not to purchase. Producing good prints isn’t just about the hardware – it’s also about the operator. So even though our equipment might be older, we can provide better output than many of our competitors.”
Particulars from Scott on the fine-art side of things:
• On media: “We typically use fiber-based papers because of their quality and longevity, but they’re sometimes difficult to get through the printers. Fiber papers tend to warp and cockle, so we modify the machines slightly to get these papers through the machines.” The shop will typically source media from LexJet, Hahnemuhle, Harman, and others.
• On the artistic mindset: “Artists are very picky, especially when it comes to media. We experiment with different papers and try to mix it up a bit. We also run lots of tests, on 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 proofs, to allow the client to get a feel for the print before final output.”
• On competitors: “For fine-art work, our competition is often the artists themselves – those who buy their own equipment.” But, Scott points out, those artists soon realize they’re spending so much money on ink and supplies while selling so few prints that their printer investment has been for naught – “and they typically still aren’t producing the quality work that we can do.”