School of Art Print Studio Prepares Students for Professional World

Posted: March 15, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: March 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

Students Deborah Lash and Chris Oliver edit and prep images for printing. Creative Services photo

Home to approximately 500 majors and offering dynamic disciplines such as photography, sculpture and graphic design, Mason’s School of Art has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1972.

And, with the opening of a new Art and Design Building last fall, the School of Art has a new home to keep pace with its flourishing programs.

The Art of Running a Business

Sean Salyards, instructor of photography, explains how the new building provided an opportunity to reinvent the outdated print studio that existed in the old Fine Arts Building.

“With the opening of the new facility and the advantage of having more space, many students and faculty began voicing their desires for a print studio,” he says.

Working with other faculty members and students, Salyards led the effort to establish the new School of Art Print Studio, which opened its doors in February.

The print studio, which offers professional, high quality, two-dimensional fine art prints, is open to anyone in the Mason and surrounding community.

“Although the print studio has only been open for a few weeks, our goal is that it will eventually become one of the top facilities in the area to offer professional printing,” Salyards says.

Operating just like a for-profit business, the print studio will funnel its revenue to the School of Art to fund growth and further expansion of programs that enrich the student experience.

Into the Digital Age

In the digital age, technology is being used more often in all the artistic disciplines, and the print studio is no exception.

The studio currently offers a variety of solutions for artists and designers and will offer more in the coming months.

As one of only a handful of businesses in the area to offer exhibition-quality print services, the School of Art Print Studio is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and support for its customers.

The new print studio boasts seven inkjet printers. Creative Services photo

The facility boasts seven inkjet printers producing wide-format, pigment-based prints, and a Chromira LED printer producing traditional wide-format chromogenic prints. The acid-free archival paper and inkjet printer inks ensure finished prints will last for a lifetime or longer.

As a fully color-controlled facility, the print studio ensures that colors are matched across color devices. For example, if a customer wants to print a photograph of a sunrise on the beach, the colors that appear on the computer screen are accurate and will be just as vibrant when the picture is printed.

In addition, the print studio is equipped with special daylight-balanced light bulbs that are ideal for viewing digital prints.

The print studio also offers the ability to immediately preview and change an image before it is printed. The staff will sit with a customer and walk him or her through the process until the desired product is achieved.

While the cost of printing depends on several factors, such as the size of the image, number of copies and type of media being used, the studio’s prices challenge those of other print studios in the area.

A Learning Lab

In its first few weeks, the print studio has already been used by students, faculty and staff members to print magazine and book covers, limited edition prints and photographs for exhibitions.

In the future, visiting artists to the School of Art will be able to use the print studio to facilitate workshops they hold on campus or to produce exhibitions associated with their visit.

The studio is currently staffed by two highly qualified and knowledgeable graduate students and two undergraduate students from within the School of Art.

“Being able to work in the print studio has been a great experience for me as I continue my graduate studies at Mason,” says Deborah Lash, a graduate student pursuing a degree in Critical Art Practices. “I am able to see new developments in art practice firsthand and use this knowledge as I work in both the classroom and in my own studio.”

Mason’s proximity to Washington, D.C.’s thriving arts community offers students numerous opportunities for connections with professional artists, including a work study program. Through the work study program, qualified students in each discipline are chosen to work in the print studio to learn about the digital printing technology and methods.

The School of Art also offers courses such as Digital Print Practices and Digital Photo, in which the content closely relates to what students learn in the print studio. Students are able to absorb the fundamentals in a classroom setting and then apply them in the professional environment of the print studio.

“Although I became a faculty member just last fall, I have been loosely associated with Mason for several years and have had the opportunity to see how the university has grown,” says Salyards. “I feel very blessed to be able to work with so many fresh, young minds in an environment where they are encouraged to see their work come to fruition.”

The print studio is located in the Art and Design Building, Room 1011, and is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu