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The Dawn of Simulated Process Color

(December/January 2017) posted on Tue Jan 16, 2018

At a time that many high-end garment printers were struggling to produce realistic images in CMYK, an artist took an entirely different approach that would eventually take the industry by storm.


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By Steve Duccilli

More than 30 years later, those early Harley-Davidson prints are still astonishing. “Dave’s work kind of set the foundation and the bar,” says Anderson. “It was very dynamic for what we were seeing in four-color process work back then, because it used solid colors to get all the forms and shadows of a full-color piece of art. It was very refined.” For the next few years, though, the work would remain known mostly to Harley enthusiasts until Gardner returned to Buffalo and entered into one of the most productive partnerships in the history of the industry.

An early simulated process print done in 1991 by Serigraphic Designs.



Meanwhile, process-color printing advanced throughout the 1980s as the technology improved and printers learned to tame the many variables, the subject of Joe Clarke’s book, “Control Without Confusion” (developed from a series of articles published in Screen Printing in 1985-86). Coudray remembers when a local separator purchased an early drum scanner, eliminating the painstaking logarithmic calculations he had been doing in his darkroom to get the reproduction quality he wanted. Soon after, he bought a used Crosfield 640 and was among the first to interface it to a Macintosh computer. “It was a hack to the system,” he explains. “We intercepted and jumped the signal out of the Crosfield, ran it through a special computer to interpret the signal, and sent it to a Quadra 950 where we could manipulate it and output the film to an imagesetter.”

When Simulated Process Went Viral
Jon Weiss was a motorcycle fanatic and the third-generation owner of New Buffalo Shirt Factory, then a small screen-printing business in Buffalo. He had done some Harley designs before the company started its licensing program. Soon, he began seeing shirts at his local dealer with prints like nothing he had seen before, all featuring the signature of the artist, Dave Gardner. “He did one that was an image of a panhead motor, and what fascinated me was that in the reflection of the chrome air cleaner, you could see an image of somebody taking a picture,” Weiss remembers. “That kind of stuff just blew my mind.”


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