Sutra - Print Making
TAGS: sutra, printer, Print Making, Jon Cone

Narrative form Jon Cone ..

“This particular methodology that I am using to produce Yatin Patel's prints on large sheets of handmade Japanese paper was designed specifically for that high contrast imaginary. I rejected the idea of printing black & white prints with color inks and invented a process in which many shades of black ink are carefully combined to produce a smooth gray transition from white to black. Using only one black ink does not have enough tonal response to convey a large range of tonalities.

For Yatin's imagery, I am printing using a bluish gray ink to carry the mood in the shadows. It peeks out from behind the blackest parts. I use a brown nearly as strong as tea in color. I have three shades of pure warm carbon that make up the bulk of the gray tones in the print. But, some orange ink, some greenish gray ink, and some purple gray inks are overlapped carefully to shift and split the gray tones so that the images appear to be rich and with considerable depth. These inks cannot be controlled by conventional methods.

The images are all printed from single channel grayscale images. The images in my computer have no color information whatsoever. Besides making my own inks, I develop my own software with which to print. I cannot use a traditional RGB color space, nor a traditional CMYK color space with which to print. No conventional printing RIP software can take a grayscale image and translate those portions of tone to the colors of ink that I have designed.

My approach is similar to that of a fine art lithographer who "thinks" in terms of separations. I make plates of ink that when overprinted result in a range of color and tone that realizes the print. The amount of ink that is being printed must carefully be controlled so that I have built my own ink linearization software. There is no conventional profiling software that I can use. I am alone as a printmaker without any support from an industry that has a wide variety of applications and solutions - and I prefer it that way. I choose to print in a way that is closer to traditional printmaking than it is to digital. If you can imagine how a color woodcut or lithographic print is built up of colors overlaying and overlapping - then you can imagine what it takes for me to produce a Yatin Patel print on the very heavy kozo/cotton Japanese handmade paper.

I make custom inks for artists and photographers whose work I print in my own studio. I do not adhere to the conventional method of printing that requires CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) that is found in all modern inkjet printers. I also do not adhere to the conventional imaging space of RGB (traditional computer imaging), nor CMYK equivalents, yet I print with up to 12 different colors of ink.

I could choose to do it in an easier and more conventional manner. But, it would interest me far less as a printmaker to work in a way that others do. Also, the prints produced would not nearly be as rich and complicated. However, my intention is to produce prints that appear natural. I don't want them to be about technique, nor require an understanding or appreciation of my technique in order to be enjoyed. My hope is that I make prints for artists that look unlike anything they could do for themselves or in working with other Master Printers.

I make ink. While this is considered to be unique for a digital printmaker, it was once considered to be a necessary skill for a traditional printmaker. My background is a traditional printmaker versed in intaglio, photogravure, serigraphy, relief print and monoprint. I founded Cone Editions in 1980 and was the first printmaker to adapt digital printmaking in 1984. I have always made my own silkscreen inks and intaglio inks. In the early 1990s I developed some of the first archival inkjet inks. I now make a wide range of inks that are sold all over the world under my own brands as Piezography® for black and white inkjet printing, and ConeColor™ for color inkjet printing. While the majority of printmakers around the world that have adapted my inks adapt them to Epson printers, I prefer Roland printers for my extreme fine art printmaking.

The Roland printer that I am using has been customized to allow the passage of very thick materials. It heats the paper during printing. It was originally designed as a commercial printer to print solvent on heated plastics. I adapted it to work with my water based pure pigment inks. I can easily change the inks to a palette, which is appropriate for the artist's work. I can use up to 12 inks in this printer. I first began using this printer to produce the monumental prints for photographer Gregory Colbert and his Ashes and Snow Nomadic Museum exhibitions.

I began that work in my own studio on a smaller scale using a 64" wide printer. Eventually I would produce prints 14 feet in length requiring 16 hours to print. The purity of the inks I make are considerable as a result. Without prejudice, I can say that they are of the highest standard possible and tests at the Aardenburg are proving that I can produce inks on the same level as the major manufacturers (Epson and HP). In some cases, I actually surpass their inks in terms of fade resistance.”