Ah, another twelve-hour workday. The problem with being your own boss is that, like a workplace boss, you want everything done immediately and perfectly–but unlike a workplace boss, there are no laws or customs in place to prevent employee abuse. Or self-abuse, in this case.

I spent the first part of the day refining the video piece for TechTV and finally overnighting it to them. According to the UPS website, the package arrived at the Ontario International Airport in California about half an hour ago, for delivery to San Francisco in the morning. It’s awfully damn cool that you can actually follow your package hour to hour–not to mention that we could shoot, edit, and polish a short piece for cable TV on eight hours’ notice, and have it done in about ten hours. Technology rules.

Afterwards I went to Karen’s studio to help her get ready for the Mongolia art show Thursday night. This entailed glamorous duties such as mopping the bird crap off the floors–she has two cockatiels, Charlie and Amelia, who perch on the pipes in the ceiling of her basement studio and crap all day. Lately she’s been playing them Louis Armstrong in the mornings, and they evidently get very excited by the trumpet, flapping around and piping back and forth.

My other responsibility to Karen of late has been prepping prints of her work. After much discussion last fall she bought an Epson 2000P color printer. This is an inkjet printer built specifically for the art-print market. Instead of the dye-based inks used in normal inkjet printers, the 2000P uses archival pigment-based inks with a broader color range than usual and an estimated lifespan of about two centuries. (Inkjets normally have black, yellow, cyan, and magenta inks and their prints can fade in a matter of months if the lighting is bad. The 2000P has black and two varieties each of yellow, cyan, and magenta for a total of seven base colors. The result is much better.)

I did some experiments with archival art prints last year for some grayscale photomontage work I was doing, and found the results to be excellent. Much research and further testing ensued. We bought some terrific archival watercolor paper made for use with printers like this one–it’s a wonderful textured, nubblety paper. When we print Karen’s watercolor paintings onto this paper, most people we show them to can’t tell which is the original. It’s really amazing. The differences are evident to the trained eye, but they’re not in terms of quality so much as color accuracy–getting exactly the same shade of blue or whatever from original to scan to print is still quite difficult, despite Apple’s hype about ColorSync. Getting one image reasonably right often entails a half-dozen prints, and these inks and papers aren’t cheap. “Reasonably right” in this case means a beautiful and convincing copy that would fool most people; much further fine-tuning would be needed for a museum-quality job, but the technology is there.

For her show, we’ll be offering prints of every single piece on display. Considering that she’ll have something like fifty original artworks hanging, it’s pretty amazing. The days when art prints were selective and expensive are fast ending, and are being replaced with something akin to retail: anything you see, you can have a print of. They still aren’t dirt cheap–we’re charging around $75-$100 a print–but they’re far cheaper than originals and a good deal cheaper than most art prints. There’s actually a very strong possibility that this is one of the first art openings around in which every single original is available in print form. And when the show is over, we’re remounting the show on the web–“repurposing the content” as they say–with the obligatory secure online ordering courtesy of PayPal.

As a byproduct of all this printmaking research, I’ll get to use her gear to produce archival prints of my photographs for sale here at Revland. This might happen by spring–dunno. I bought a good scanner last year that can scan photographic negatives at excellent resolution, and that plus this printer equals big fun. It’s been a slow slog to get to this point and I’ve been working towards it in fits and starts for two years. But the pieces are finally in place and now it’s just a matter of taking the time to make it happen.

And to think I owe it all to Shadowfist. When I worked at Daedalus Entertainment on the Shadowfist CCG, I got handed the task of doing production/pre-press work on the Flashpoint expansion set. I designed the display box, laid out all the cards, and scanned all 100+ pieces of original artwork. And then I had to do it again. And again. Because one of the owners of the company managed to erase my hard drive twice in one month. (She couldn’t tell the difference between a floppy disk icon and a hard drive icon, and kept formatting the wrong thing.) So I scanned and color-corrected the same 100+ pieces of art three times, and got a crash freaking course in using Photoshop to fine-tune scanned color files. By the end of that process, my eye for color was well trained. And I got to skip art school to boot!

Which of course brings us back to that empoweringness of technology thing. One reason why I dabble in all kinds of stupid stuff–graphic design, typesetting, HTML, photography, digital video, spoken-word recording, fine-art printmaking–is because every endeavor is an excuse to learn some new technology on my Mac. I tend to get restless easily, and am happiest when I’m solving new and interesting problems. Now if only 3-D animation technology would advance in sophistication and ease-of-use to the near-consumer level, I could start working on that animated film (The Adventures of Stop and Go) I started planning three years ago . . . though I’ve been contemplating doing it in Flash . . . oh, Hell. What I need to do, of course, is write.