Here is what it looked like in the Gorenjski printing plant in Kranj, Solvenia. The plant was gigantic; this is just one of many rooms of printing equipment that was working constantly, day and night.
On press in Slovenia:
Selecting and editing the images for my 25-year Retrospective took eight months; the design with Alex Spacher took another four. The printing of the complex two volume collection was commissioned to the highly-regarded printer, Gorenjski, located in Kranj, Slovenia.
We got on a plane and headed off.
These are massive and impressive 8-color presses; every sheet of images runs through this machine to produce vivid, color-true and contrasty images.
Why go to the trouble, travel, and discomfort that’s required to be on press? Simply because no printer can possibly know what is important about any image; i.e. no printer, however good, can read an artist’s mind. A visual artist must protect his or her work, which means traveling to the printing plant, overseeing and approving every image the printer produces. Otherwise the blacks will be insufficient or excessive, the colors not quite right or significantly “off,” and there may be lots of other embarrassing alterations of work that was so intensely, carefully crafted, and in this case over a 25-year career of making images.
The master printer, Dušan Kuljič, who oversaw the color and contrast corrections we requested on various images, with Beverly
Beverly and I have been going on press for many years to make sure – first hand – that the tricky transition from digital images to ink on paper goes well. We learned the hard way how important it is to be at a printing plant every day when pages roll off the press. The one time we listened to the fervent promises of our publisher’s production manager, who told us we did not need to go on press, who just about pledged her first-born if all didn’t go well, the result was a disaster. So bad, in fact, that I refused to let the book be published. Ten thousand copies were pulped. A year later, we tried again, personally inspecting every page, and this time everything worked.
We used this light table, to “read” and compare my original prints with what was coming out of the press. You can see this sheet has five images with one blank page.
The Republic of Slovenia is a beautiful, small country in southern central Europe, with a population of just over two million. The printing house Gorenjski specializes in the field of high-end book production. After our year-long preparation for printing, including color separations, proofing, and all the detail work to get ready for the crucial final step, it was time for Gorenjski to print the two-book boxed set, bind it, box it and ship.
Sheets/images, drying on palates
At high-end, in-demand printers like Gorenjski, the presses operate 24 hours a day and it takes from five to ten days to print a large book of photographs. As soon as we arrived at the plant we began to approve or alter the first images (six to a sheet) presented to us. Then, about an hour or so later, we got the adjustments and went through the process again. After a few “takes” through the eight-color press we approved the six images on the first sheet. We then waited two hours for the completion of printing of that sheet and waited another hour to see the first pass at the second sheet of six images. This went on for 24 hours, and for seven days. We were examining images at three in the morning or three in the afternoon, twelve noon or midnight, without let up.
When all six images on a sheet are approved and I have signed off, “OK, HS, and date,” multiple copies are then printed and placed on these palettes to dry.
We were given a room in the printing plant and occasionally caught an hour or so of sleep before we were awakened to examine another sheet of images.
Beverly at her computer in the “room” with which we were provided. We slept –more or less – on the grey couch to the lower left of the frame.
Though the countries and printers have changed, we’ve done this kind of on-press marathon for virtually every one of our previous 20 books at plants in California, Japan, Italy, Singapore, and now Slovenia. We learned a hard lesson with our one debacle, so, though a week or so of too little sleep and exhausting studying of (sometimes staring, actually) hundreds of printed sheets is no fun at all, there’s no other way to get one’s photographs true to the originals.
After a week, Voilà!
Schatz Images: 25 Years http://bit.ly/schatzimages
After a tiring but successful week at the plant, we headed back to NYC.
There are “32 Chapters”
Here is a small sampling:
From the Chapter on DANCE:
From “LIQUID LIGHT”
From “AMERICAN KINK.” This will be a book published next year.
And, from “UNDERWATER”