by Jeremy Jones
In 1980, NASA space probe Voyager I sent incredible high resolution images of the world back to scientists on earth. That same year, in Cologne, Germany, high resolution images were all the buzz at “Photokina,” the premier international imaging trade show for those whose business or passion is photography.
With the forces of destiny at play, one might wonder if Voyager’s keen lens caught sight of Janine Hughes traveling to Photokina from the UK, and Mike Zaikowski making his way there from New York. Two people living continents apart were to meet at an event that occurred only four times a year. Now, Mike and Janine Zaikowski make it possible for Chestnut Hill to boast one of the most highly regarded fine-art printmaking businesses on the east coast: Profiles Studio at 8011 Germantown Ave.
Their debut as a professional team was here in 1991, with the creation of Penguin Photo, a one-hour photo lab at 8 West Willow Grove Ave. Ever attuned to cutting edge technology, Mike and Janine took the bold but calculated risk in 1994 of adding a new service to the lab: fine art printmaking, using the process known as Giclée (pronounced “ghee-clay”’), which literally means “to spray.” A Giclée press works directly from digital files of scanned images. Using a four-color process, a state-of-the-art printer converts ink into microscopic droplets which are applied to watercolor paper or canvas in an ultra-fine inkjet mist, creating a “continuous tone” print; remarkably pure and true to the fidelity of the original.
“These archival prints will easily exceed a lifetime expectancy of 100 years,” noted Mike.
“My work is extremely delicate and detailed, mostly done in pen-and-ink and graphite,” said local artist Sabrina LeClare, on a recent visit to Profiles. “Mike, Janine and I work together, proof after proof, to get the right density, light and clarity. What they are able to capture almost makes the prints look better than the original!”
A key to why Profiles is a prized source for artists, photographers, galleries, museums, publishers and anyone who wants to procure state-of-the art reproductions, is “FTP.” File Transfer Protocol gives Profiles the ability to upload, send and receive any size file over the Internet.
“This is important,” Mike explained, “because, for printing of such good quality you need very detailed files, which means a large file – high resolution. Sometimes we’re sending and receiving files anywhere from 100 to 400 megabytes; files capable of making large-scale prints, from 30×40 inches to 60×80 inches.”
Maintaining their customers’ high resolution files is a crucial component to Profiles’ service, allowing for the convenience and affordability of print-on-demand.
“The turnaround time is fabulous” attests Elliot Schwartz, of the Carol Schwartz Gallery, with whom Mike and Janine collaborated to produce the gallery’s current Jordan Matter fine art photography exhibition, featuring the Pennsylvania Ballet. “We are lucky to have this high quality work so accessible in our community.”
The Profiles “community” embraces the globe. Work goes to international exhibitions and juried art shows. Recently, an artist’s work was sent to the Krakow International Triennial Exhibition. Also just completed is work for a family who is donating a priceless oil painting to a museum, but want to keep a quality reproduction in their home. To accomplish the job on such a valuable piece and honor the family’s request for confidentiality, Mike and Janine went on site to scan the artwork. The collaboration and trust factor is signature to Profiles’ profile.
“We work with people who want to reproduce heirloom paintings and photos to share with relatives the same way we do for artists in international competition,” said Mike
“We are overwhelmed by the depth and talent of artists in this area,” said Janine. “Rarely do we choose to attend the New York Expo for Contemporary Art, as we used to.”
“Our clients are almost like friends,” added Mike.
At Profiles, the fruits of labor, technology, trust and collaboration have created what Mike described as “a tremendous collection of local artists’ work, and a meeting place where we’re sharing something important.”
And for Mike and Janine, sharing something important is how it all began.