Monday, February 15, 2010, 8:22 PM

“Dive” has been in the works for three years. It’s one of our largest intaglio prints to date, made from an astonishing image from James Jean. It all began when James sent the original image our way. We were suitably floored:

James employed a technique he’s got a unique mastery of here, working up a one-color “key” drawing by hand and then going back and adding tone and color in Photoshop. This technique just happens to lend itself perfectly to printmaking. After much color proofing and not a few sets of test plates, we decided upon printing the key drawing in a dark burgundy, with the tonal additions printed in a warm cyan.

The print is large, with an image size of 29” x 16”, and a paper size of 36” x 23”. It has been printed via an intaglio process, with the two plates cut to slightly different sizes giving the print its unique double-plate-embossed border.

Registration proved particularly difficult. This was our first attempt at a multi-plate intaglio print of this size, and the process (which involves squeezing wet paper through several tons of pressure) causes the paper to warp and stretch between plates. Bigger plates = bigger problems! Persistence pays though, and after a few (more) sets of plates we’d figured it all out.

Stack of finished prints in hand, it was time for some finishing touches. James specially made a drawing for the title, which we turned into an embossing plate, giving the title some extra punch, so to speak.

We also embossed our own printer’s chop and letterpressed a tiny artist’s chop in bright red next to James’s signature

In addition to the regular edition of 15 prints, we convinced James to hand-embellish seven of the prints for a special edition. Here he is trying some things on one of the junk prints we gave him for testing purposes:

After much consideration the additions that stuck were a bright red flag and pure white highlights throughout the image, resulting in a hint of pop and shine throughout the image. Almost as if the original print had been sprinkled with magical fairy dust. Perfect.

The regular edition sells for $2,000 and is available now at pressureprinting.com, while the special edition is priced at $4,000 and is not available for purchase on the website. In order to purchase one you will need to contact Brad directly.

The rundown:

James Jean: Dive
  • Regular edition: 15 + 2 artist’s proofs, 2 printer’s proofs
  • Special edition: 7 + 2 artist's proofs, 2 printer's proofs & 1 bon à tirer
  • Image size: 29” × 16”
  • Paper size: 36” x 23”
  • 2-color intaglio print on Rives Heavyweight paper
  • Special edition includes highlights hand-painted by the artist in white and red acrylic
  • Embossed title based on a drawing done especially by James
  • Embossed printer’s chop
  • Letterpressed artist’s chop
  • Signed and numbered by the artist
  • Comes with a custom-designed, perforated, signed and numbered certificate of authenticity