By Katrina Ceruolo
Advancements in the quality of large format digital printers and substrates continue to influence fine art. Print service providers (PSPs) recognize this and offer services for not only professional photographers and artists, but consumers. Stecker Graphics experiences the benefits of offering fine art reproduction to a range of customers.
Stecker Graphics began as a Rock Island, IL-based Minuteman Press Store franchise in the Fall of 1977. The first operation was offset printing and equipment consisted of an offset press, a few pieces of bindery equipment, and a walk up copier.
Over time, the small franchise evolved into two Rock Island, IL locations, becoming Stecker Graphics in 2012, with a total of 7,000 square feet and a crew of seven full-time employees.
Five years ago, offset represented approximately 75 to 80 percent of the PSP’s business, but now it is only 20 to 40 percent of the work in a month. The addition of large format digital accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the shop’s current business.
Becoming a digital shop was a pivotal decision. “Our growth seemed to stall out about four years ago, but in the past two years, we are seeing yearly growth of about 15 percent,” shares Greg Stecker, production manager, Stecker Graphics.
In 2010 the shop purchased its first piece of large format equipment, a Roland DGA Corporation VersaCAMM VP-540i. To meet growing demand, this past Spring Stecker Graphics purchased an Epson SureColor S70670.
The PSP services other local businesses in the Quad cities of IA and IL, as well as the surrounding area, offering a full line of printing, marketing, and graphic services. It offers business cards, letterheads, t-shirts, storefront signage, vehicle graphics, and interior wall graphics.
With the addition of the Epson SureColor S70670, Stecker Graphics began promoting fine art reproduction. It currently provides two canvas choices, Epson GS Canvas Gloss and Epson Premium Canvas Satin. Epson UltraChrome GSX solvent inks are used due to quality and longevity.
Typical turnaround time is three to five days from when the file is received. Simply Elegant Gallery Wrap Pro Bars from IT Supplies are used to finish the prints, providing a clean display solution.
A Personal Gift
A repeat customer of the PSP noticed a sample print from the Epson displayed on the front counter. Looking for a unique, custom gift to give his wife for Christmas, he requested a reproduction on canvas.
The customer sent over a photo of his wife smiling with a cup of coffee. The PSP performed a slight touch up and added requested text to the top of the image using Adobe Systems Incorporated Photoshop. “The biggest challenge was getting the lettering to match the colors in the photo so it didn’t look out of place,” notes Stecker.
The photo was printed on Epson GS Canvas Gloss with the Epson SureColor S70670 using Epson UltraChrome GSX inks. The shop used 12×18-inch Simply Elegant Gallery Wrap Pro Bars to wrap and finish the canvas along with archival glue and staples. The image was printed with a two-inch bleed on all four sides, making the photo 16×20 inches. A Sooper Edge safety ruler from ImageOne Impact and Olfa cutting blade were used to trim the canvas pieces.
From photo submittal to finished canvas, the PSP completed the job in approximately 24 hours. “This is all new territory for us so I’m sure there will be more challenges presented in the future, but overall our customers are impressed with the output from our Epson printer,” adds Stecker.
Stecker has high hopes for the future of the print business. “I think the biggest challenge is educating customers about what we can do, making them aware that there is a local company that produces high-quality, fine art pieces for business and home, along with all of the other services we offer,” he shares.
With a variation of projects such as business marketing materials and in-home decorative gifts, the PSP experiences a range of output possibilities with the addition of fine art reproduction capabilities.
Feb2014, Digital Output