Sometimes final output is really just the beginning.
For artist Paul Rousso, the final inkjet output is just a means to an end. Rousso uses digital photography, wide-format digital printing, and acrylic paints to create original artworks that adorn lobbies and conference rooms for corporations. His corporate portraits entail thousands of images he’s captured digitally as well as hundreds of Photoshop layers, all output digitally, but it’s the addition of the hand painting that makes his work stand out.
In a recent corporate-portrait project for WrayWard Communications, a marketing-communications agency in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rousso spent nearly a month at the firm shooting about 2500 photographs of the staff, office, and working environment. "I just go crazy. If some look bad, it doesn’t matter," says Rousso of digital photography’s flexibility.
Once at his studio, Rousso began "slaying dragons," he says, which actually entails situating the selected images into an aesthetically pleasing collage. Design required three to four weeks in the studio-and roughly 400 Photoshop layers. At this point in the process, he’s typically more concerned with color consistency-ensuring that the colors match across the collage-than he is with color precision.
Upon completion of the image, he output a scaled-down version for a client proof, using his Mimaki JV4 with Mimaki inks onto LexJet’s Sunset Select Matte Canvas. After a few client alterations, the proof was given the thumbs up and he turned his attention to final printing. The final printed output, also produced on the JV4 with LexJet Sunset media, measured 22-feet long x 50-inches and took approximately 11/2 hours to print.
But, as with all of Rousso’s artwork, final machine output really wasn’t final. He then applied an acrylic clearcoat to the canvas and began "smearing" over the canvas with Golden acrylic artist paints, using his fingers, elbows, forearms, or whatever appendage he deemed fit to paint the canvas. He blended the lines between the segmented Photoshopped images and the more true-to-life colors on the final image. A final layer of varnish and UV inhibitor completed the process.
In spite of the time and expertise devoted to the collage prior to the acrylics stage, "Without the paint, the image just has no soul," Rousso says.