Photographer-turned-print provider Bill Louf finds wide-format success.
By Paula Yoho
That year, Louf went to a Photo Marketing Association (PMA) tradeshow in Las Vegas, where he first saw a 36-inch inkjet printer in action. “I thought, ‘That would be great for doing banners and posters and all the commercial work I do, because you can change the type on it really easily.’ We leased one – at the time it was $30,000 – and I was the first person north of Seattle to have an inkjet printer. Of course, a year and a half later, they came out with a better-resolution model that had eight colors, so I wasn’t even done paying for the first one, and I bought the second one and got even more business.”
From there, he began producing tradeshow displays, posters, and banners and, finally found himself in a position to return to his roots in fine-art reproduction, because the new inkjet printers were capable of output onto canvas. In 2000, Louf decided it was time to re-brand his business. He sold the photo lab he had been working out of, moved six blocks up the street, and added the name ‘ImageMaster’ to his business cards.
“At that time, I had a Colorspan and an Epson 7600 printer, and I would do artwork for people as well as tradeshow displays and banners. Then, I hooked up with the hockey team in Everett, Washington, and I would do the boards that go around the rink. As a matter of fact, I still do the design work for their pocket calendar and their season tickets and program every year.”
The business, he says, “Just kind of evolved from there, where I became purely an inkjet print provider – I ended up having four big printers in my shop near Seattle.”
A new focus on fine art
In 2006, when he and his wife were looking for a change of pace, and of climate, they loaded up their belongings and moved to Sedona, an artists’ enclave about two hours outside of Phoenix. It was there that they set up shop to focus on reproducing artwork for the town’s abundance of creative-types.
“We just opened a frame shop down here and offered giclée printing and, because we’re such a small, isolated town, I now do more artwork than anything else. Of course there’s also a lot of competition these days.