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Scanning for a New Life in Print

(December 2011) posted on Tue Dec 13, 2011

How large-format scanners are driving new demand for print services.


By Michael Antoniak

click an image below to view slideshow

Scanners, you could argue, are the Rodney Dangerfield of the modern digital print shop. When compared to the shop’s other technologies and tools, they “don’t get no respect.”

But while digital images are typically supplied by the clients these days, there are still those customers that provide you with slides, photos, or other types of original artwork that need to be digitized. And, sometimes, there are clients you wish provided you with original art – rather than delivering poor scans that necessitate a ton of Photoshop work or a return trip to the client for the artwork. Having a scanner in-house can prove to be a time-saving device, allowing you complete control over that process, including any fine-tuning you might need to do.

In addition, having in-house scanning capabilities can do more than simply fix problems. Print service providers can also tap scanners – particularly large-format scanners – as a well of service opportunities in archiving and printing. As you’ll see in the examples that follow, shops are converting old documents, murals, posters, and paintings for a new life in print, and introducing their client artists to new ways to market their originals.

But it all begins with the scanner.

An improvisational solution
Like many specialists in wide format, Awesome Graphics (awesomegraphics.com) first offered scanning services as a way to seed business for its varied output services.

“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our customers to order prints,” says Mike Napolitano, owner and co-founder with wife Tami of the Rutland, Vermont-based company. “Scanning their art opens up a whole bunch of opportunities for us to do printing.”

In the early days of the 18-year-old company, that “art” included photographic prints, slides, and negatives. Digital photo restoration and reprinting developed as a profitable sideline for this specialist in wide format, via a LaserMaster printer.
“We’ve always offered some scanning services. I always liked the quality you could get from a 35mm slide or 4 x 5 transparency with a film scanner,” he says.

As area artists saw what the company could do with photo reprints and enlargements, they wondered if Awesome Graphics could help them, too. “A couple of local artists asked if we could reproduce their art,” recalls Napolitano. Some had slides or transparencies of their paintings, but Napolitano realized many more did not.


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