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Decorative Dye Sub Experts: Photographic Works

Metal, wood, and tiles are just some of the substrates this shop tackles.

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PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKS in Tucson, Arizona, uses a Roland Texart RT-640 dye sublimation printer to make prints on rigid substrates up to 40 x 60 inches. They print on metal, wood, and tiles for museums, galleries, and private collections, and have handled special projects for the National Park Service.

The company was founded in 1982 by Mary Finn, who started her career as a commercial photographer. Early on, she used Roland’s aqueous pigment-ink printers to make archival prints for artists and photographers on fine art papers and canvas. Since then, she has continually added technologies that enable her customers to display their art in new ways. Today, artists and photographers can create art wallpaper or have printed images mounted on acrylic blocks, bamboo frames, and birchboxes.

When customers started asking for metal prints, she researched Roland’s dye sublimation printers and chose the Texart for its wide color gamut, which includes orange and violet. Photographic Works uses ErgoSoft Roland Edition to manage image quality and color.

Finn notes that while the initial draw of rigid dye sublimation was to do prints on Chromaluxe panels – “prints on metal look so vibrant and alive,” she says – the company has leveraged the technology to work with many additional substrates. “We have seen an increase of interest across the board in our dye sublimation products,” says Rachel Castillo-Larriva, the company’s manager. “Both artists and the general public seem to be interested in the possibilities offered by new materials such as aluminum, steel, ceramic, glass, and fabric. We are excited to add new substrates to our product line.” Photographic Works now offers bracelets and magnetic dry-erase boards customized with dye sub printed images.

Castillo-Larriva says that learning to control color was the most significant step to master. “Color management and consistency of color reproduction is one of the foundations of our print philosophy,” she says. “Each new substrate reproduces color in its own unique way. We color profile and manage each new material and surface finish before offering it to our clients.”

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Eileen Fritsch is a Cincinnati-area-based freelance writer who served as assistant editor of Screen Printing magazine in 1994 before being named a founding editor of Big Picture magazine.

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