This is the first in a three-part series profiling successful photographers utilizing large format printers to bring their art to life on a grand scale.
After earning a Master’s degree in Photography from Yale University, Sarah Stolfa returned to her adopted hometown, Philadelphia, PA, and in 2009 stepped into the role of executive director for the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC). Though the PPAC offers scanning and printing services, these are merely parts of its broader mission, which includes supporting local artists with educational and networking opportunities.
"I think the most important thing for an artist is to get out there, and that means attending openings and other exhibitions, so that you meet people and network," advises Stolfa. "That’s one of our goals—to help develop a community for artists to gather and talk about ideas—just to facilitate conversation."
Those conversations often focus on the ever-evolving capture and reproduction market, and how best to technically create the effect and impact an artist envisions for a piece of artwork. The PPAC is equipped with a stable of scanning and print equipment, made available at very reasonable costs to members.
"In the lab, there is a flatbed Epson Perfection V750-M Pro scanner and a Premier 8,000 ppi drum scanner from Aztek, Inc. The Epson is available for rent," explains Stolfa. "An artist pays $25 per scan, or they can come to PPAC and rent the machine for $50 an hour. In that amount of time, you get anywhere from six to ten scans accomplished."
Stolfa realizes that some may balk at the thought of renting out such expensive equipment to a clientele that ranges in experience and computer savvy. She assures skeptics that the equipment and software is so user friendly, that with just a brief introduction, most artists understand the procedure in little to no time.
PPAC customers also have access to printers. "There are two printers available for rent—a 17-inch Epson Stylus Pro 4880 and a 44-inch Epson Stylus Pro 9900. With both, clients pay $20 per hour, bring their own paper, and make their own prints," notes Stolfa.
"These printers print on just about anything," stresses Stolfa. "We have a portfolio of paper stocks with the same images printed on them so that people can decipher the differences in output appearance. The choice comes down to what the artist is looking for. A Hahnemühle Fine Art matte paper looks very different than a Pearl from Oji Ilford USA."
Consumables are a key factor in the art-to-print equation, she suggests. "I don’t advise using third-party inks, we only use Epson inks. They are the industry standard, and at this point, the most archival inks available."
Read more about Sarah Stolfa and view a selection of her work in the February issue of Digital Output.