Digital Couture Turned Heads at New York’s Fashion Week

EPSON DIGITAL COUTURE PRESENTATION

Lights. Cameras. Fashion. On February 9th, down in the heart of New York’s West Village, the entrance of Industria Superstudio was a bustle of activity. A studio used for over two decades by a cadre of fashion icons, such as Louis Vuitton, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Balenciaga, was hosting a client of a different color: Epson.

Indeed, the star of the show didn’t get the once-over by the girl with the clipboard or walk up the ramp swirling with a projected lightshow. It was the SureColor F-series’ New York Fashion Week debut, after three years of working its way up the ladder of fashion’s hierarchy.

“Since Epson is not a textile brand, we started having runway shows at our printing trade shows. Nobody expected that, and we started to create some noise,” recalled Catalina Frank, product manager for professional imaging at Epson, including the SureColor dye-sublimation product line. “The next step was being part of Fashion Week Brazil, in São Paulo, where we were able to work with the well-known Brazilian designer Lino Villaventura.” Soon Epson was featuring their own runways at textile trade shows, a first for the company, in countries like Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

EPSON DIGITAL COUTURE PRESENTATION

Never a dull moment during the event at Industria Superstudio. Designer Mariana Morrell, from Brazil, far right.

And in New York, the crowd may be forgiven for overlooking the printer, even though it was housed in a prime position at the studio’s entrance, due to their excitement to get a closer look at the designs worn by the tall, slender models in the main room. Garments covered in brilliant colors and bold patterns, all printed on the SureColor, literally sat and stood center stage, while guests discussed the fabrics, process and inspiration with the designers.

“It was great to see that so many people were truly interested in the designers’ work, asking about what inspired them and how they liked working with the Epson printer for the project,” Catalina explained. “And to hear the designers talk about how they saw their vision come to life because they used the technology and being able to differentiate themselves from the competition because they can create their own fabrics—that told me we were successful.”

EPSON DIGITAL COUTURE PRESENTATION

Pilar Briceño, our designer from Colombia, surrounded by her designs.

Now that Epson has impressed the fashionistas in the Big Apple, what’s next for this technology? “I think we have established Digital Couture as our own brand at New York Fashion Week,” Catalina answered. “Now we need to focus on looking at ways to support this community in the future, and creating more technology that allows them to express their creativity.

“We’re a global company, so I think we’ve really just gotten started.”

EPSON DIGITAL COUTURE PRESENTATION

ESOSA with their designs: Left, Emilio Sosa; center, David De La Cruz

TOP PHOTO:

Back row, left to right: Lucia Romero and Cindy Zheng of Dual; Leonor Silva; Agustin Chacon, Epson VP Marketing Americas; A.Y. Not Dead; Pilar Briceño; Marco Antonio Farias; Mariana Morrell; Maggie Barry; David De La Cruz of ESOSA. Front row, left to right: María Elisa Guillén Serrano; Pablo Alvarez of Pineda Covalin; Moah Saldana; Emilio Sosa.

Fashion Forward: Epson Dye-Sub Printers Hit the NYC Runway

DESIGNER_PRESENTATIONIf you’ve watched any fashion reality show, you have an idea how clothes come in to being: the designers come up with a concept for a design, then are taken to a warehouse to choose a fabric that best matches their ideas. They use that fabric to transform their sketch into reality, as best they can. And, unless you’re a huge fashion house, designers have no choice but to work with existing textiles.

That is, until now. “But what I find really fascinating is: What are they thinking of? Do they want to use pictures? What pattern do they want to create? There’s no problem with colors. There are no limits.”

That’s Alejandro Ordoñez, Marketing & Communications Manager for Latin America, explaining how the Epson SureColor F-Series dye sublimation printers give small designers a whole new arena of creative license.

“The beauty of this technology is that they can create something just about the same as they see it without any compromise whatsoever,” says Alejandro. And, he says, the printers can provide mass production with high quality. Once the pattern is created into a digital file and technical color testing is done, printing is the easy part.

“You can print a couple of hundred yards today, and if you have something you want to change, you change the file and print more tomorrow,” Alejandro explains.

The SureColor’s journey to the runways of New York’s Fashion Week started in South America, where they initially focused on sports jerseys and direct-to-garment printing. “Then we figured out that what we were actually doing was creating textiles,” said Alejandro. “And textiles are the basis of the fashion world.”

After a few successful fashion shows on a small scale in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, designers started showing a real interest in the technology. It was time to take the project global, and creating an event for New York’s Fashion Week was the logical next step.

Alejandro’s team selected 11 designers from the Americas, all of whom had either already used the technology or were eager to try it. “Although we wanted them to be inspired by the theme of ‘The Future of Fashion’, we wanted them to express their personal perspective of cultural experience,” explained Alejandro. From Los Angeles, California to the mountains of Chile, Epson’s exclusive list of designers include:

These designers will be bringing their unique perspective and collections specially created via the SureColor dye sublimation technology to Epson’s Digital Couture event during New York Fashion Week.

“I’ve received some of the collections from Latin America and I’m really happy,” confessed Alejandro. “I can’t wait to see them on the runway in New York.”

Animal Prints on Boing Boing

TshirtI had been Facebook friends with David Mizejewski for some time, but had missed meeting up with him at the 2013 New York Comic-Con. You probably know who he is—a naturalist (officially, the “Nature Geek”) with the National Wildlife Federation and the one who scares the crap out of hosts on shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien with unusual animals. He even keeps the animals from attacking Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today Show. (We may even have an upcoming joint blog post somewhere down the line.)

We do a booth at the New York Comic-Con every year, and in 2014 we showed our SureColor® F2000 and the R2000. The idea was for people to come to the booth, draw their own stuff and either print out cool canvas prints on the R2000 or see a T-shirt printed with the F2000.

So I’m at Comic-Con and send a message to him on Facebook to stop by the booth, and he says he’s in the Press Room. I go upstairs to meet him, and he’s hanging out with his friends Rob and Heather Beschizza, a few of the editors from Boing Boing. Boing Boing has been going since the 80s, since it was a print magazine, but the now online-only zine is an aggregate of the web’s “weird, wonderful and wicked things to be found in technology and culture”.

David is also a blogger for Boing Boing, with cool posts about peregrine falcon dive speeds and how animals would help us win the zombie apocalypse. When I asked them if they wanted to print some stuff on a T-shirt down at the booth, they were all over it.

David emailed a photo of Rob’s artwork to me, then Rob dropped his smartphone on the cover of the SureColor F2000 so he could record a video of the T-shirt coming out of the printer. Like he says, it prints out “like a goddamn office memo!”

Take a look at the video by clicking here.

Update 01/26/2014: I was so excited about this post, that I forgot to include a link to www.naturegeek.org, where you can find crazyfun stuff about animals from David.

Creating a Scrapbook Page as Art

AmBoy_Full_CropI get this question at trade shows all the time: What do I do with 13-inch canvas? It’s not enough to do a gallery wrap with. And my answer is: Don’t wrap it.

So many people seem to be a little apprehensive about printing on the 13-inch canvas, and they shouldn’t be.

You can create a 12 x 18 or 11 x 14 print, making sure that there’s at least a half an inch on each side. Take it to a good framer and ask them to mount it on foam core or another stiff backing. Ask the framer to use these really cool linen cloth-wrapped mats, and then put it in a standard frame.

AmBoy_MatEx

Linen cloth-wrapped mat detail.

It looks really professional and finished, and it also extends that canvas look out to the frame. For people who sell their images, this is a great way to frame your work. It’s clean, it creates definition and makes your image appear bigger. Find a local framer that does this kind of finishing and create a partnership with them, asking them to do a few frames up front in return for reciprocal framing business once you start selling your printed images.

But for you folks at home, there are other cool projects to try, like create scrapbook pages as art. What you do is choose your background. Take a family photo, a landscape from the summer vacation, or whatever you want, even abstract art (like that fingerpainting, cloned a few times over), and open it in Photoshop (or your choice of photo editing software). Create a new layer and play with the opacity slider (50 percent is a great place to start), or create a “Vibrance” or “Hue/Saturation” adjustment layer, and crank up the vibrance or saturation on a landscape—it’s really easy to do.

Print this out as a 12 x 12 background on the 13-inch canvas, and then start adding small photos on top of the background—family members, more vacation pics, it depends on your theme for the scrapbook. Use special paper to add embellishments or frames behind the small photos to make them stand out against the background.

Scrapbook embellishments give the piece a 3-D look.

Scrapbook embellishments give the piece a 3-D look.

The best part is that you can buy a 20-foot roll of matte canvas for around $35 or, if you want to go whole hog, you can get the Exhibition Canvas Natural Gloss (it really looks more like luster, not glossy), which is my favorite canvas, especially since it reminds me of an oil painting when its printed. It’s fairly inexpensive, and you’re creating a unique memory with archival inks that won’t fade.

It’s a super cool gift idea, and it’s not just something that you bought. Plus, it’s not that hard to do. In fact, it’s easy enough that you still have plenty of time before Christmas to make a few gifts for your family and friends. Questions? Ask them in the comments section below, and I’ll get them answered as soon as I can.

Photos and Layout courtesy Katye Witt.

A Stitch of Nine in No Time

russell_brownWhen I sat down in Russell Brown’s tutorial at Photoshop World 2014, I didn’t know that he had won an Emmy® for his online instructional videos. But within minutes, it was obvious why he’d won—he’s extremely entertaining.

Even though I’d spent the best part of a day with him the day prior to the tutorial, I didn’t realize how well his manic energy would transmit to his teaching. And it turns out that he’s one of those teachers who can keep you wildly entertained while actually educating you at the same time.

Russell, or Dr. Brown as he’s known on Adobe TV, used the tutorial to follow up with the workshop he’d arranged the day before, his Lights, Aerial Camera, Action! in Nelson, Nevada. Many in the conference room had attended the workshop and practiced their skills taking video and stills with the DJI Phantom drones, but many were just there to learn from a true Photoshop master.

He started off at breakneck speed, talking fast as he told us how much information he was going to try to impart in a mere hour. It seemed like a lot of information to get through, and technically complex, but that’s not a problem for Dr. Brown. Even though his style is frantic—and interspersed with tongue-in-cheek asides that had the whole crowd laughing—Russell used detailed slides in a presentation to teach aerial photography zealots how to choose capture settings on their GoPro Hero4s and Vision Plus drone cameras to get the best results.

But he saved the best for last. With just 15 minutes left on the clock, Russell walked us through how to create a panorama with nine aerial photographs, from color correction through to the finished product. I know I wasn’t the only one with my mouth hanging open as Russell expertly changed levels, adjusted the horizon, pulled pixels around…and presto magic. Nine great shots of Bodie, a ghost town in eastern California, became an eerily beautiful panorama in less time than it takes to make a pot of coffee. I’d bet my 401(k) that there wasn’t anyone else in the room, even another Adobe expert, who could have stitched together that panorama in the same amount of time, and in front of all those people.

Luckily, Russell posted all of his capture setting tips and panorama Photoshop tutorials on the Internet for all of us mere mortals to view in a more relaxed amount of time. Visit RussellBrown.com/PSW2014 and get ready for a real education.

Here is an example of one of the videos that you’ll find on that site:

 

Note: This is the third in a series of four posts inspired by a pre-show workshop arranged by Adobe’s Russell Brown for Photoshop World 2014. Checkout the other posts: Drones on a Plain and Propeller Panoramas.

Giving New Meaning to Mobile Printing

We want it now…instant gratification. It’s happening everywhere: shopping, streaming video and even food delivered to your door. And it also can have a negative meaning, depending on the situation.

Here’s where Jeff Cable is a contrarian. He’s also figured out how to go above and beyond for his clients and gives them instant gratification by actually giving them a framed print onsite.

Jeff Cable is a renaissance man of photography. He’s shot pro sports, car races, large scale weddings, portraits and even family gatherings, and he knows what it means to these people to capture that moment in a photo.

He’s also a master at his craft, from shooting, retouching and even printing. Check out the video above where Jeff finishes an event shoot and then heads to a makeshift studio in his truck to create something special. He retouches one of the portraits from the event, and then prints a 12” x 18” on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper (his favorite paper) from his Epson R2000 powered by an adapter. Jeff also has a frame ready to go, so within minutes he has a professionally finished and framed photo that he presents to the client.

Instant gratification. Instant gratification for a family who is celebrating a momentous occasion. He told me: “I have made many family members cry with these!”

And this is instant gratification that’s different from Instagram, Facebook or any other digital app or social media. This memorable photo will never get accidentally deleted, because Jeff printed it, framed it and gave it to the family before the party was even over. That framed print is a printed backup, one that they can immediately hang on the wall as a permanent memory of that day.

Jeff really understands what it means to have a physical, tangible memory of that day, and he gives it to them right there. And that’s cool.

About Jeff Cable: Bay Area-based photographer Jeff Cable has taken impressive shots of wild animals, landmarks, natural landscapes, portraits and sporting events, and is an official photographer for the U.S. Olympic Team. He teaches photography to other professionals globally, and is also one of the most requested presenters at New York City photo retailers. To see more of Jeff Cable’s photos and read more about his adventures around the world, check out his blog.

Printer Dots and Baking Snickerdoodles

I love baking. So, when I was baking my first batch of snickerdoodles, I had an ah-ha moment about our print head technology. Let me explain.

You see, I usually make chocolate chip cookies. With this kind of dough, I’d roll a cookie dough ball, place it on a cookie sheet, and it would melt down into a flat shape. I quickly learned that snickerdoodles don’t do that—they hold their form in the oven. If I wanted a good snickerdoodle, I actually had to shape the cookie dough just the right way. And that got me thinking about dots, shaping dots, and how Epson printers create droplets and dots. Before I knew it, I had a post about print head technology and an excuse to publish my snickerdoodle recipe. Nice.

When I rolled my first batch of snickerdoodles into balls and flattened them slightly between my palms, the edges of the cookies cracked, and I tried to smooth out the edges (with marginal success).

The first set of snickerdoodles...  not precisely shaped.

The first set of snickerdoodles… not precisely shaped.

The cookies from the not-so-precisely shaped cookie dough.

The cookies from the not-so-precisely shaped cookie dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So with the next batch, I shaped them carefully into discs using my thumb and forefinger. They turned out great. Just like our printers’ droplets.

The carefully and precisely shaped snickerdoodle cookie dough.

The carefully and precisely shaped snickerdoodle cookie dough.

The great looking (and tasting) snickerdoodles!

The great looking (and tasting) snickerdoodles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The precisely shaped dots from from Epson printhead technology:  PrecisionCoreTM and MicroPiezo® techonologies

The precisely shaped dots from from Epson printheads: PrecisionCoreTM and MicroPiezo® techonologies.

Our printers use micropiezo technology, which is the same principle behind most digital watches. You see, when you apply electricity to quartz, it vibrates. So, using the same principle that a watch uses to keep time, our print heads have a little plate that deforms when electricity is applied, then returns to normal when the electricity stops. These micropiezo heads control the size and shape of an ink droplet by the amount of voltage applied. The larger the voltage, the bigger the drop. By varying the voltage, we can create precise round dots, just like my second batch of snickerdoodles. It’s a very controlled process.

Another type of inkjet technology, called thermal, isn’t as controlled. It uses an element to super heat the ink, creating a little bubble that explodes onto the page. It’s just not as precise as shaping them carefully.

What does this all mean? Well, the ability to create a precisely round droplet in a controlled manner means you get much better image quality. I don’t know if it makes snickerdoodles taste any better (although they do look better), but try the recipe (in the sidebar) and see for yourself.

Right Ink for the Right Job

738px-AltamiraBisonOver my 14+ years at Epson, I’ve been to many digital imaging tradeshows, and spoken with countless attendees – ranging from fine artists to pro photographers to illustration artists to the budding photo enthusiast.

Regardless of skill level, folks seem to always hit me with the super tough, technical questions right off the bat. While I’m happy to offer my knowledge and insight, I wonder sometimes (especially for those new to the creative landscape), if there are fundamental questions that aren’t being asked out of simple information barriers or a fear of looking foolish in front of their peers.

This very thought inspired this initial post looking at ink types – the first of a small series of blog posts dedicated to uncovering what you “need to know” to print high quality and successful output.

Dye vs. Pigment

From historic letters written during the Civil War, to the United States Constitution* to the ancient cave paintings of Altamira in Spain, these revered works hold timeless lessons on the fundamental characteristics of dye and pigment inks.  Longevity is the key differentiator; however each ink type has its own unique benefits. To determine which type of ink to use, ask yourself: “What am I trying to achieve with my prints?”

What is Dye? I usually refer to dye-based inks as food coloring mixed in water because that is essentially what it is – a colorant that is fully dissolved and in liquid solutions, resulting in the ink being soaked into a given substrate.

Why use Dye? If you’re looking for high color vibrancy and saturation and exceptional image detail, choose dye. With dye-based ink comes a wide color gamut and high Dmax (density of black). However, given its water-based consistency, dye has a tendency to fade over time, and since it’s water-soluble, the ink will run when it gets wet

What Applications? Dye-based ink is ideal for printing photos or on paper, and can even be used for image transfer, such as clothing dye and sublimation printing. Think of projects consisting of at-home photos, invitations and a range of business materials (e.g. charts, graphs, posters).

What is Pigment? I like to describe pigment ink as finely ground charcoal mixed with water. In other words, pigment-based ink is not necessarily water soluble, but rather very fine particles of solid colorant  suspended in liquid that are then deposited and reside on the surface of the substrate being utilized.

Why use Pigment? Longevity, longevity, longevity. Pigment ink particles have the unique ability to form a bond with the medium being used, resulting in long-lasting, fade-resistant output.

What applications? Silk screen printing, fine art, and professional photography always use pigment-based ink. In addition, T-shirt art is typically printed with pigment-based ink. For these types of applications, durability and longevity is critically important.

Stay tuned for the next series post where I will look at paper types and options.

Photo of the Altamira Bison public domain via wikicommmons.

*Note: a common misconception is that the U.S. Constitution was penned using pokeweed ink (dye-based), but was later discovered that it was written using iron gall ink, a pigment-based solution