Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Black and White Printing

It was quite euphoric to print my first set of black and white exhbition prints. I thought that the prints were pretty good and I was all set to send them to the framers. Just to check myself, I let master printer Chris Yap take a look at what I did. Chris was really insightful. All the images had colour casts which I did not notice. I followed his instructions for printing neutral black and whites and was only then able to see the very slight colour casts by comparing the results side by side. He made comments about areas of different images and told me that the overall mood of the images was inconsistent. I guess that I was a bit crest fallen but I knew in my heart that he was right and I had to reprint all the images.

Time aside, reprinting 15 16.5" X 16." images is expensive on textured fine art paper. But this exhibition is important to me. This was also the first time I am printing my own work and have so much control over my own images. So back to the computer and printer I went.

I first had to find a way to print the images without unwanted colour casts. I finally decided to use the Epson Advanced black and white driver and not the canned printer profile in Photoshop.The colours are definitely more neutral but the print density was very different from what I saw on the screen. So I had to tweak the printer driver to give me a close approximation to the density seen on my screen. Wasted a few prints trying to get that one right.

Then I started on each image and took a hard look at each one. There were areas where I had to bring back information. There were images that just looked wrong. Reprinting all the images made me relook at things I let pass in the first round. The new set of images look much stronger than the first. A couple of my assistants told me that my initial set looked pretty good but when they compared it to the new set, the new set is obviously stronger.

The prints are now with the framers. I know that for this time round I have done the best that I can. In my heart of hearts, I wonder how far short I have fallen. Art and the skill involved is not absolute. An artist needs to continually push the boundaries of skill and understanding. With all that information out there, the artist also needs to keep true to his own vision. The artist has to show his work and take the constructive criticism with the accolades. There is no point in practising art in an ivory tower, away from reality. Art that can communicate has to go through trial by fire.

As a short side thought, my good friend Wesley told me today that the most important thing he considered in the people that worked with him is teachability. Slow or fast, can you teach the people you work with? If they can be taught you can work with them. If they are smart but are unwilling to learn, it is still not a good working relationship. I guess when I think about it myself, I can believe in my own inner vision, but I must be willing to learn from others. The day I think I know it all is probably the day I stop pushing myself. I cannot be complacent in the search to improve my work.

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