By Lisa Guerriero
With the prevalence of online photo sharing opportunities, printed pictures have impact. Print offers businesses and consumers advantages they can’t get from a photograph uploaded to the Internet, including everything from 4×6-inch prints to large format renderings and photo merchandising found on mugs, t-shirts, and even tile.
Based in Portland, OR, Postup Studio Inc. offers wide format printing across both the photographic and art spectrums. It focuses on white-label fulfillment services for a variety of ecommerce businesses, publishers, and photographers.
Founded in 2013, the company staffs five employees out of a 4,700 square-foot shop. It began after its founder, Aleks Davidovich, CEO, Postup Studio, left a previous employer that was acquired by CafePress. That company, known as Imagekind, became his first customer, and he began fulfilling orders as a vendor rather than an employee.
Focus on Fulfillment
Postup Studio handles a range of fine art photography, user photos, and non-photography décor art. It also fabricates frames and display systems for its prints.
The all-digital firm primarily utilizes Canon equipment. It operates 12 imagePROGRAF printers in house, which range in width from 24 to 60 inches. Davidovich explains that much of its work is completed with the 44-inch iPF8400 models. The imagePROGRAF models deliver the quality Postup Studio requires for its professional photo output. “With our Canon printers, 300 pixels per inch (ppi) is really ideal. However, we can generally achieve good results with images in the 150 to 200 ppi range, depending on the image itself,” says Davidovich.
It also relies on Canon aqueous inks. Davidovich says he tested third-party inks in the past and found OEM inks to print better and be more reliable in the long term.
The shop is able to print high-end photography on the same equipment it uses for mid-range, consumer-driven jobs. The media differentiates the quality of the output, which is helpful given the size of the firm.
The firm custom built its color profiles. It uses X-Rite’s i1 Spectro for paper profiles and i1 Display Pro for display calibration. In addition to using Canon’s Print PlugIn, the staff designs with Adobe Creative Suite and uses DDI Software’s Qimage to RIP.
For finishing and mounting, Postup Studio uses a 62-inch Seal laminator, Idecora’s Gallery Stretcher 60 for canvas stretching, Wizard International’s Computerized Mat Cutter 8000, and a Cassese underpinner for frame making. Additionally, it utilizes a Canon 6D camera with AlienBees flash units to occasionally provide customers with product shots.
Fine Art Photography
Postup Studio finds balancing higher volume orders with specialized, smaller jobs a challenge. It recently faced this issue when it had to print and frame photography for two fine art customers simultaneously.
The first customer, Captured52.com, is a Web-based firm that releases one example per week of professional photography. Each week’s image is intended for wide format printing up to 60×80 inches. An ongoing customer, Captured52 requested four 40×60-inch photos from Postup Studio. At the same time, Captured52 recommended a new customer to Davidovich.
The new customer, Blue Sky Gallery of Portland, OR, needed displayable prints for an upcoming show at the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts. The exhibition involved five different photographers and required 44 prints ranging in size from 16×20 to 30×40 inches. The photography in the art show inspired a narrative by a Guggenheim Fellowship-winning author and professor, Peter Rock.
The two jobs put Postup Studio to the test. It began by confirming the resolution requirements and upsampling when needed. The firm had to capture the detail and quality of the images. It used 300 ppi for Captured52 and upsampled the Blue Sky Gallery images to 200 ppi.
Postup Studio inspected the images and retouched them in some cases. The staff soft proofed the images and made adjustments as needed. Next, 11×14-inch proofs and at-size section proofs were generated for client approval. Following approval, printing was the next step, using both its imagePROGRAF 8400s and 9100s.
“All print jobs were sent through the Canon Print Plugin from within Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud. We used the plugin primarily because we knew we’d be working individually on each image. We have greater control from Photoshop and love the results we get from the plugin, particularly compared to the driver,” explains Davidovich.
For Captured52, the shop printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta, 315 gsm, chosen for its archivability. The staff built shadowboxes for the prints with two-inch Roma Moulding frame material, matboard faced spacers, and a .118-inch clear UV acrylic for glazing. Prints were mounted onto artist-grade foamboard and then built into the framing system.
The process was similar for Blue Sky Gallery. For this job, Postup Stuido selected Breathing Color’s Vibrance Luster paper. Shadowboxes were similar to those created for Captured52, the difference being .09-inch clear framing acrylic as opposed to the .118-inch clear UV acrylic for glazing.
The four-piece Captured52 order was finished within three days and the 44 piece Blue Sky job was done within a two-week turnaround time. “This larger production run really tested us and our ability to produce top-quality work within a short production window. We had to shift resources and methodologies to meet the volume and in the end gained valuable insight into our own workflow,” notes Davidovich.
Fine art photography represents a small portion of the shop’s work compared to décor and user-photo printing, but it’s a valuable segment that Davidovich hopes to expand. Postup Studio has its usual workflow for 90 percent of its customers. The challenge, he explains, is adapting workflow to meet the needs of the ten percent for fine art. The equipment plays a key role in adjusting for this disruptive, but important, customer type.
Tools for Growth
Wide format fulfillment is at the core of Postup Studio’s services. As a young firm, making the most of its resources is essential. Canon printers help it handle a variety of jobs even when simultaneous orders come in and customers require labor-intensive framing.
Davidovich considers it essential to keep up with industry changes—especially equipment and supplies. This allows the firm to grow quickly enough to reward and retain his seasoned staff.
Jan2016, Digital Output