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Axellence in Fine Art

(May 2006) posted on Thu May 11, 2006

Discover how Axelle Fine Arts approaches the printmaking process and why it continues to rely on traditional methods.

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By Andy MacDougall

We really like printing on Coventry Rag. Since we print so much with water-based inks, we like papers that keep their shape even though they may have 60 colors on them. Axelle editions are typically a mix of 150 on paper and 150 on canvas. A lot of our clients have been leaning to Somerset Satin 500 gms, which is a premium paper and very white. We have had a lot of work lately on Ampersand Clayboard, which is a 1/8-in.-thick clay primed hardboard. It really holds registration. We have a project in progress printing on mirrors, and one of our most challenging jobs recently was for artist Rudolf Stingel. He wanted a bright red Victorian wallpaper pattern repeatedly printed on 300 pieces of 4 x 8-foot, 1-in.-thick sheets of aluminum-coated styrofoam insulation.
We did a test on four sheets, and it worked perfectly thanks to Nor-Cote's Matt Cuningham and the specialty ink he made us. Based on the ease of the test, I thought it would take two people two days to print—then the semi showed up filled with bowed, wrinkled, and extremely itchy insulation pieces. The end result was spectacular, but it took a complete retooling of the shop and all hands on deck to get it done.

What’s your typical day like at Axelle?
We work Monday through Friday, 9-5. I start each day by mixing or approving the day's colors. We try to keep three presses going at all times, so this can take a while. We usually proof then run each color over the whole edition. Only rarely do we print a complete trial proof first before editioning.

We typically cycle each press through 1000 impressions per day. That translates to two to three colors per press depending on how long it takes us to match the color. We print cautiously though. We have a very exacting registration on our images. Often, it comes down to a pixel landing on a pixel. Our clients want extremely clean work as well. If the print looks dirty, people won't buy it. So no pinholes if we can help it.


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