Pop goes my art, Gallery 7 Digital Studios makes inkjet prints

Pop goes my art
By Walter Ang
Oct. 10, 2009
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Andy Warhol (Andy who? Google him.) believed that art is for everyone. In this vein, Gallery 7 Digital Studios has been quietly churning out personalized art services that can transform people's photos or personal artworks (digital or otherwise) into decorative wall art for homes or offices.

Owned and managed by husband-and-wife team Enrico and Bing Gaw, the most popular service the studio provides is giclée prints on various media, which is a fancy way of saying that they do inkjet color printing of any image you give them onto materials like photo paper and canvas. From as small as bond paper size to as big as an entire wall.

"We want to make art accessible, affordable and fun," says Enrico, who handles the marketing side of the studio. Gallery 7 lets you have your photos printed as is, or you can choose from a variety of rendering styles to transform your photos into: Andy Warhol, Che Guevara, Comic Strip, Manga, and Obama, among others.

"The work we do is not just about putting your photos or designs through a couple of Photoshop filters on a computer. We know a lot of people can do that themselves," Bing says. "What we offer is a higher level of professional care. A portrait can take us up to 15 hours to develop because we're very meticulous. We carefully select the colors and details."

With a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines, Bing oversees a team of graphic artists who process the portraits. Who wouldn't want this former award-winning art director for advertising agency McCann-Erickson checking the quality of their portraits? "I use the same eye and discipline that I had when I used to work with the most demanding corporate clients," Bing says.

Method madness
The opportunity to turn your own face photo (or the photos of your family, friends or special someone) into a work of art you can hang in your room (or give to your beloved) is an idea tinged with instant glamour. "You can get your own personalized wall pop-art in four simple steps. Choose your photo, choose the style you want to it to be rendered in, choose the colors you like, then choose the size of your wall art," Enrico says.

The grunt work is done by the folks who run the studio. "We use only high-quality artist's canvas. Our inks are non-toxic, of archival quality, and have a 75 year life expectancy. In addition, we treat the canvas prints with an ultraviolet and water resistant coating to protect them from fading and dust, so they can keep their original brilliance for generations," Enrico says.

The gallery also uses museum-quality stretcher bars where the canvas doesn't touch any more wood than it needs to, preventing unsightly impression marks and surface cracking. The canvas is stretched, stapled, and taped carefully at the back of the frame-not on the sides. "This gives you a clean, seamless and modern look, so you don't need to frame them," Enrico says. "We don't seal the back of the canvas to let it breathe, which is important in preventing the growth of molds."

How it all began
Gallery 7 actually started out as the pioneer in making professional photo mosaics. "We've always been very fond of taking pictures with our digital camera. When our daughter Chinna was born, picture-taking became even wilder. We accumulated lots and lots of pictures but didn't know what to do with them. Most of the time they were just stored in the computer," says Bing.

She began doing collages of Chinna's pictures and would email them to all her friends in different continents. "That's how we got the idea of doing mosaics. People can admire all the pictures in one big mosaic. It's like a whole album of photos in just one picture!" Bing says.

While there are free mosaic-making programs that can be downloaded online, Bing notes that they use state-of-the-art software that maps out the photos mathematically while she art directs along the way. "We also have the hardware to handle large files since the resulting mosaic file size is usually so large that most home computers won't even be able to open the file, let alone print them," she says.

For the photo mosaics, Gallery 7 uses Epson waterproof, fade-proof, vibrant inks and heavyweight Kodak photo paper. The mosaics are printed at a maximum of 1440 dots-per-inch (dpi) unlike most printing stores that can only print at 600dpi.

"People get amazed by the mosaics. They all gush with happiness when they see all of their pictures in one big mosaic. Kids are even more fascinated at the fun of trying to find their pictures inside the mosaic," she says. "Being able to make our customers happy, making a difference in people's lives, it's fulfilling and motivating"

Aside from offering services to regular folks, Enrico wants the studio to be a "venue that promotes digital art." In fact, Gallery 7 also offers printing services for digital artists and photographers. The studio also recently held Pinoy Icons exhibit that featured images of popular Filipinos like Lea Salonga rendered in pop art styles.

Gallery 7 Digital Studio has branches in Oasis Manila (Aurora Blvd., San Juan City), Shangri-La Plaza Mall, and Eastwood Mall. Call 727-1983 or visit www.gallery7online.com.

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