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Minna's Design Narrative: Creative Digital Printing Workshop

I participated in a creative printing workshop to find out new ways of printing photographs on different surfaces.

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Minna Scheinin
28 March 2015


Minna Scheinin’s narrative design: Creative Digital Printing



I participated in a workshop in which we learnt creative approaches to digital printing (November 2013).



This was a workshop with about 12 participants and the teacher. We spent three days in a studio (Turku, Finland), which can be hired by artists to work in. In addition to the “classroom” there was water supply for cleaning and a lot of space to hang pieces of artwork to dry. The teacher had brought all material that we needed for digital printing, different kinds of printing papers, metal sheets, cardboard, brushes, glue, wood, different kind of base liquids, scissors, etc. etc. He also brought 2 professional digital photo printers and a computer.

The participants had enrolled for the course organized by the photographic centre  PERI in Turku Finland. They had different backgrounds, photographers, graphic designers, artists and other photo enthusiasts. We all had seen the announcement that the workshop would teach creative ways of printing photographs on different surfaces.



We were trying to learn several different methods of printing photographs on different surfaces. We printed on different kind of papers, thick and very very thin ones (which all demand special attention), plast, metal sheet, sail canvas, wood etc. The measure of success was always the print that we made. The results were analysed as how they had succeeded technically, and what the defects could depend on. The analysis also covered the harmony of the material and the theme and the nature of the picture – how the choice of material expressed the message of the picture.  



This is an example of one printing method: printing directly on a metal sheet.

The teacher showed us first some finished samples of the method we were going to learn. Then he carried out the full procedure, explaining all the details of the process. The participants took notes and asked further details about the process. When the sample piece was ready it was our turn to start the process. We all executed our own photo printing on the metal sheet.

The metal sheet was first cleaned carefully with a soap solution. The surface of the metal was then covered with a few layers of mounting liquid for the printing colours to stick on the surface. The surface was dried with a blow-drier between the layers. This was done carefully in order to avoid any air bubbles to create on the surface. The layers could be either transparent or white, which resulted in different shades and atmosphere in the final picture. The teacher was all the time available to check the metal surface for next layers.


When the metal sheet was done, it was put aside and a cardboard frame was created for printing. Accurate calculations were made for a hole to be cut in the middle of the cardboard. The metal sheet was finally placed into this hole and fixed to its place with adhesive tape.

The next step was to choose the picture to be printed. A special photo editing program was used to check the size of the picture. The picture was then placed on the digital canvas on the right place, exactly the same as the position of the hole on the cardboard. The printer was adjusted to print thick material, and the printing could now take place.



The task was a good mixture of artistic creation and technical details. Even if I tried to make notes on the whole process, I had to ask the teacher every now and then about what to do next and how. Especially the printer settings demanded extra attention and still some exemplars did not print out as they should. All deviances were discussed with the teacher. One of the main concerns was that the picture did not print exactly on the slot that was made for the metal sheet.

Even if we went on with the next printing, we could always come back and try another round with the metal printing in order to be sure that we had understood every detail of the process.

The objectives were technically met as we all managed to print on all materials that were planned. However, all results were not technically perfect, and these were discussed with the teacher. Further, taking the notes on the processes was the only of assuring that we could multiply the procedure at a later point of time. I managed to duplicate some of the processes at home during the next few months.



In addition to the technical creative printing methods there were also other learning outcomes. The workshop encouraged me to bring into my photographic thinking new ideas to try out. I got to understand that everything can be tested with no limiting thoughts that I usually have. This attitude of testing and having fun is quite transferable to whatever learning process. Finally, comparing this experience with my own field of foreign language learning, I understand now even better than before, that in addition to meticulous grammar studies you have to try out your skills and have fun with the language you are learning.


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Wayne Gibbons
5:05pm 9 April 2015

Hi Minna,

I like your last line, that the learning shoudl have a fun element. I think this is an important motivator for both student and teacher alike. It sounds like the objectives were met well, and that you learned even when the prints did not come out exactly (and perfectly) as expected.


Nicole Montag
1:26pm 10 April 2015

Hi Minna -

I liked enjoyed reading your design narrative, because I have never done creative digital printing before. So the motivation for reading it, was rising by reading the title.

The implicit assumptions you are making: I do not know, whether it is the aspect of that I am not a Techie, but I could not understand what your obstacle was: was it a lack of the software management or something with the printer itself, or....? Could you resovle this issue finally, i.e. did you learn how to manage that part.

Evidence for learning effect: you could repeat from home, on your own, without direct access to teacher.

Conclusions: you stated the learning outcomes in your reflection section and you apply this learning experience to you as a learner of another language. I think this is an evidence that you transfer your experience to other learning domains.


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