Digital pre-press house expands into display-graphics business
By Jake Widman
Artisan Colour began in 1998 as a digital prepress, high-end color-separation house for catalogs. But the catalog business is evolving to in-house production as well as moving onto the Web, says division manager Peter Cook, and Artisan, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is trying to expand its existing relationships to develop a display-graphics business.
“We have the accounts already,” Cook says. “For years we’ve been doing catalogs for companies that have retail channels as well. There’s no reason we can’t convert those accounts into signage and expand our business.”
The development of the display-graphics side of its business got under way last April with the acquisition of Mighty Imaging based in Phoenix. “They had a 50-inch Lightjet 5000 and two employees,” Cook recalls. “They served the photography and art markets, but all they did was output, no finishing. They wanted to expand their capabilities and bring finishing in-house. They printed some graphics for our lobby, and that’s how the relationship started.” With the acquisition, Artisan now has about 40 employees, with six on the display-graphics side.
The company’s latest acquisition: an Océ 350GT Arizona flatbed printer, which is versatile, Cook adds. “We have the roll-to-roll option and can print up to 86-inches wide, and we can print on a flat substrate up to two-inches thick. With the white-ink option, it opens up new markets. We do a lot of work on supplied materials, and artists bring in ceramic coasters or tiles and we output images onto those.”
Cook recently called on the 350GT’s white-ink capabilities in a job for an auction house dedicated to classic and high-end automobiles. When a car is sold, the auction house has a photographer take pictures of it from multiple angles. “For years, they just archived those photos and never did anything with them,” Cook says. “They wanted to expand, and we were asked to come up with ideas highlighting our capabilities for their marketing group.”
One result: a 24 x 30-inch print of three views of a 1940s Buick station wagon. The image was provided by the auction house, archived by Artisan, and then printed on 3mm brushed silver Alcan Dibond aluminum composite. “The photos have white elements that would not work without white ink, such as the whitewall tires and the chrome highlights,” Cook says. “In addition to printing white in those areas, we put a white spot channel behind the whole image to ensure it would be opaque and the colors would pop.”
Artisan drives the 350GT with Onyx’s ProductionHouse RIP. “Once the spot channel was set up as a separate layer in the TIFF file,” Cook says, “printing it was as easy as enabling the channel in the RIP. ProductionHouse also has a simple feature that would have let us floodcoat the entire surface, but our client likes the appearance of the brushed silver showing around the images.”
The final image was initially installed at the auction house’s offices and is now on-site at Artisan’s offices.