By Olivia Cahoon
Digital printing allows artists and photographers to reproduce their work on demand without compromising quality or size. Businesses, galleries, museums, and interior designers request reprints of personal, professional, and well-known photography for display and décor. With the right combination of printer and media, today’s print service providers (PSPs) provide a host of resources for fine art clients.
Above: Tricera Print produced 36 pieces for artist Lyle XOX using its Epson SureColor P9000 printer featuring Epson genuine inks.
One-Stop Photography Shop
Tricera Imaging Solutions was established in 1985 as the first Canadian Epson dealer. Located in Vancouver, BC, Canada, it started with two employees that repaired and sold the original Epson Dot Matrix press.
This eventually led to becoming one of the first retailers of the full range of Epson Pro Imaging graphics products, printers, and media. “We purchased the business in 2010 as there was an opportunity to expand the product lines offered and to service the entire Canadian market,” explains Michael Levin, co-owner, Tricera Print. Tricera Print is a division of Tricera Imaging Solutions.
At the time, Tricera Print operated from a 2,000 square foot workspace. Today the company is still in the same building but occupies the entire main floor for retail sales and warehouse shipments for a total of 5,000 square feet. An additional building for the shop’s print lab is planned for completion in 2020 for 4,000 more square feet.
Early Beginnings in Photography
Before purchasing Tricera Print, Levin was a customer—a full-time professional photographer buying inkjet printing supplies from the print and supply shop.
Up until this point, Levin used LightJet printing technology but found the quality inconsistent and lacking long-term archival stability that galleries expect from their clients.
As inkjet printing technology advanced, he became interested in the print business and found an opportunity to service his needs as well as others in the photography community.
“The archival stability far exceeded any other types of printing processes of the day,” explains Levin. “So I persuaded the owner to sell and after six months it all worked out.”
After purchasing Tricera Print, Levin looked after his own needs to ensure his photography’s print quality was as archival-stable as possible. Around this time the shop also started printing for other photographers and then moved into mounting and framing.
Fine Art Photography
Tricera Print focuses on fine art photography with nearly 95 percent of its business geared toward the market. It is recognized as the only Hahnemühle Certified Studio in BC. “This means that we adhere to the highest level of professionalism when printing for our customers,” offers Levin.
In addition to printing services, Tricera Print offers mounting to different substrates and custom bespoke framing. The shop has a color calibrated workflow from printing to mounting and finishing. Its print lab is focused on high-end digital printing on the most archival papers available from Epson, Hahnemühle, and Moab by Legion Paper. Exhibition-quality prints are produced from a selection of cotton rag, resin coated, and canvas media.
“There is a need for photographers and other artists to understand what archival means for their collections long term,” shares Levin. “We help guide them through the process so that they know when we print and mount for them it’s with the finest products available.”
Tricera Print uses Kool Tack drymount foamboard from Tack 1 Technologies LLC for the majority of its mounting needs. It features a low-temperature adhesive that doesn’t affect inkjet prints during the mounting process. “The surface is consistent with an even coating, which leads to less mounting failures.” It also routinely works with EnCore Products foamboards.
A variety of customers and industries request wide format fine art printing. Photographers use it for their personal large scale pieces for galleries and museums. Universities often request large format prints or mounting for their student and alumni show imagery. The shop also works with museums in Western Canada that require large-scale, high-quality artifact reproductions.
As an Epson Pro Imaging dealer, Tricera Print only sells and supports the Epson brand. “We always have the latest printers offered from Epson so we rotate them often as new models come out,” says Levin. Its print lab currently employs the Epson SureColor P800, P5000, P9000, and P20000.
Tricera Print pairs its Epson wide format devices with genuine Epson ink sets. “What makes these printers suitable for fine art printing is the ink is archival for long-term stability,” explains Levin. “Also, the color gamut is phenomenal with the ability to reproduce almost 99 percent of Pantone colors.”
By using inkjet printing technology, Tricera Print receives consistent results with each job. “You can reproduce a file for a client one year and then the same image can be done two years later and it will look identical,” adds Levin.
Finishing is completed on a Graphic Finishing Partners, LLC 64-inch laminator and a heat press for self-adhesive boards.
Direct Printing Is In
Since Levin purchased Tricera Print in 2010, digital printing technology improved tremendously. One of the most popular trends the shop notices is artists printing directly to different substrates such as glass and wood.
“It opens up a lot of opportunities for the creative individual as these options were not available a few years ago. In the inkjet market we have so many types and textures of papers that we can print on that have only recently become available,” offers Levin.
For example, the shop now offers traditional Japanese handmade washi papers coated for inkjet printers and provide an aged appearance. “That would never have been possible before the inkjet printer came along,” adds Levin.
Recently, Tricera Print worked with artist and repeat customer Lyle XOX for fine art and photographic printing. Lyle creates portraits that are transformative in nature and fuse inspiration from high fashion with the mundane objects of everyday life.
“Through the process of removing his self-identity and replacing it with that of an object, it encourages dialogue on a journey connecting the viewer with a myriad of objects relating to its own carbon footprint and consumerism through a surreal lens,” explains Levin.
Tricera Print works with a number of artists involved in the printing and finishing process. According to Levin, what makes Lyle’s portfolio unique is that all of his artwork is self portraits and he triggers the shutter himself. The artist uses a Phase One 100 megapixel camera in the Tricera Print studio, which allows the shop to control the environment and add consistency to the artwork. It also enables Tricera Print to get the best possible results when printing his 58×77-inch images.
For this particular project, the client’s goals were straightforward—produce the best print quality for the artwork to be exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. “This is the ideal situation as we were able to use the best materials possible for the job from the start,” shares Levin. “As this is an ongoing series we control the consistency.”
The artwork was printed with the Epson SureColor P9000 printer featuring Epson genuine inks. According to Levin, this printer has the widest color gamut available and allows the shop to print the extensive color palette necessary for the artist’s work.
Epson Legacy Paper was chosen for its archival qualities. The artwork was printed in three different sizes and required numerous products for finishing.
3A Composites USA Dibond-branded panels were used for larger pieces and Drytac optically clear mounting adhesive was used to mount the prints. The shop also used Drytac UV laminate to protect the images.
After printing, the artwork was placed into a custom white wooden frame with a wooden retainer fit into the back to ensure stability for the oversized prints. Smaller images were mounted to Kool Tack and then fit into a custom white wooden frame finished with UltraVue Laminated Glass, a high-performance glazing solution from Tru Vue, Inc.
Mounting and framing artwork presents challenges with larger pieces. As the larger pieces are laminated with a UV film, Levin says it’s challenging to keep out 100 percent of the dust. “With so much white/gray background in his images—or pure black—something is bound to go wrong and we end up redoing a number of the prints to get them 100 percent perfect.”
For this job, Tricera Print produced 36 pieces for Lyle’s exhibition. The artist’s jobs are typically completed in two weeks since all the frames are built by hand. Before printing Lyle thoroughly inspects each print.
“We’ve been fortunate to have worked with Lyle since day one so we’ve cultivated a relationship in which he knows his work is being produced to the absolute highest standards,” offers Levin.
Large Format Photography
Artists and photographers seek PSPs that utilize the most efficient printing technology to duplicate and expand their artwork while maintaining quality.
Using the Epson printers, Tricera Print caters to the photography industry and benefits from a personal understanding of printing fine art. Its recent job with Lyle XOX is an ideal example of the print shops many capabilities, which afford them the opportunity to truly collaborate with its customers.
Feb2020, Digital Output