Fans of the Giant Robots will have some Limited Edition Exclusives to look forward to this Thursday through Sunday, May 30-June 2, at Wizard World Philly Comic Con. The Acidfree Gallery Booth will be selling some great new releases of Voltron and Transformers, as well as DinoBots, from great artists, like Laurent Durieux and Tom Whalen. ToonBarn is excited to present these Limited Edition screen prints and their variant options as well, with details about each. ToonBarn is so excited to have had the opportunity to interview the man behind Acidfree Gallery, Chris Wofford. ToonBarn’s Marc Morrell found out about the business behind these great Limited Edition Prints, as Chris shares a lot of information with us about the artists, the licensing deals, and the paper that goes into providing these awesome screen prints.
Marc: Can you give us a little introduction to the artists that will be having Limited Edition Prints available at Wizard World Philly Comic Con at the Acidfree Gallery booth this Thursday through Sunday?
Chris: One of the artists getting a lot of attention right now is Laurent Durieux. He’s from the Brussels area in Belgium. He’s been illustrating for years, but really made his break on the poster scene over the past couple years. He had a breakout poster with Dark Hall Mansion that was called, “Gigantor”, and I think that really brought his name to the forefront in the poster collecting industry. So, we started talking to him right away, as soon as we saw that print, as well as the other artists. His style, that 40’s, 50’s style that he does really captures the print collector audience. He has been really great to work with, as well as Tom Whalen, who has that other kind of art deco, retro style. Tom’s going to be working on Voltron, as you have probably seen. He also did our opening piece, Transformers, when we first released this whole series last year at New York Comic Con.
Marc: So, are these the types of artists you look for, the retro style, or it just happens that they have similar styles?
Chris: We like to try to work with artists that are great to work with and have somewhat of a following. That helps with the popularity of the prints, because they already have that following. If we can add a really nice license to their current following, it just helps the whole industry. A lot of the artists we work with, like Kevin Tong, he’s going to be doing the Dinobots for Wizard World Philly, and Jesse Phillips, who’s doing the Starscream print, as well as a Megatron print from 2012. All these guys have a captivating style that really stands out. To jump into the licensing part of it, that’s how we were able to land some of these deals. By building these relationships with artists that have such a great following, such a great style, we’re able to work with them to help sell our ideas for the licensing.
Marc: Ok, so what did you have to say to Hasbro, for instance, to get the license to do the Transformers prints?
Chris: There’s a lot behind it. It took about a year of back and forth communication, presenting ideas, actually being turned away, then re-presenting ideas, and having creative meetings, crunching numbers, a lot of back and forth. It’s definitely not easy. It’s a very long process. A lot of numbers and details involved. Presenting your ideas and how you’re going to be able to present their brand in a positive light, and also bring attention to their brand through a different stream of product. This type of screen printed collectable print hadn’t been done with Hasbro.
Marc: So, the Limited Edition Prints is a new thing for Hasbro?
Chris: I believe they’ve done other fine art prints, but screen printing, that is a whole different process. I think that’s the angle that we were able to present that was interesting to them. It’s a collectible piece. It’s only printed once. It’s hand printed. Each color is hand pulled, during the process. It’s not like a couple prints that are run off a large printer. There’s a lot af artistry that goes into printing each one of these Limited Edition Prints. Each print is touched several times by the printer. Like this Soundwave we’re releasing, that’s an 8-color screen print. That has to go through the process 8 times. Print the ink, let it dry, print the second color, let it dry. Print the third color, let it dry. So, it’s a really detailed process and takes a lot of skill in color matching and screen making.
Marc: Is the place where they are printed also owned by you, or do you contract out for that?
Chris: We don’t actually do the printing. We use a printer in Seattle. Their name is D & L Screen Printing. They’re actually THE top screen printer in the country for screen printing collectible art. They’re actually really hard to get into. So, we were able to talk with them and tell them about all these prints we had planned. “We’d like to work with you because you’re the best”, and they were very excited to work with us on it.
Marc: Are they very accommodating?
Chris: They are really great to work with. We have our schedule planned out really far in advance. We are planning what we are going to release next year right now.
Chris: We are able to work with them in advance, so we can get on their schedule books, and I think they really appreciate that. It just makes the whole process a lot smoother.
Marc: So, how many different projects can you have going on at the same time?
Chris: We could have multiple licenses going on at the same time. We have a few right now, and we have more in the process, that we plan to release with other companies. A lot of exciting things coming.
Marc: And you’re not allowed to tell me about any of them, huh?
Chris: No, those are still in the works, and details are still being ironed out.
Marc: Well, how did the Voltron license get rolling?
Chris: Well, that was thanks to Mr. Marc at ToonBarn, who helped us with an introduction to Jeremy Corray, the Creative Director at World Events Productions, who works with the Voltron franchise. They saw what we were doing at New York. They saw the excitement with the crowds that really enjoyed what we were doing. They wanted on board. Jeremy really pushed us through. From our impromptu meeting in New York, we really worked to get it through and came up with a plan to release some Limited Edition prints for Voltron.
Marc: So, how was this presented to the people at World Events Productions in St. Louis?
Chris: We met with a few people there. You have to present your ideas, what your plans are, and how you’re going to present their product on the market. We talked with 2 or 3 creative people, as well as the licensing executives. It’s a long process. It’s all worth it in the end.
Marc: Is Jeremy excited about this?
Chris: He really is. We’ve been talking about it. He really loves what Tom Whalen did with this first print. We picked Tom because his style is perfect for that 80’s vibe. His opening Transformers prints sold very well. So, we wanted to go right to him. He was really excited about working on it. That’s something he watched, growing up. He was just excited to put his style on such a great, iconic 80’s brand.
Marc: To see those characters from the Original Voltron Series in a new light like that is AMAZING! It’s a whole new way of looking at it.
Chris: Oh, yeah. He’s got that whole style that he does down. Everything, from the Lions jumping across the print, with the bold figure of Voltron standing there, and across the top, the pilots, it’s just amazing.
Marc: Will there be some more Voltron prints coming out?
Chris: Yes! We already have other artists lined up to work on releases for Baltimore Comic Con, as well as New York Comic Con.
Marc: Awesome! Can’t wait for those. Now, as far as the paper that these prints are printed on, what makes the paper last so long with these Limited Edition prints?
Chris: Well, they’re all high quality papers, crafted to last for a long lifetime. They’re all acid free, archival papers. The inks are the same, all rated for archival, collectable museum quality prints. We use various paper brands, because the artists all like to use different colors and brands. French Paper is one big company we use. Cougar is another paper company. You’ll see a lot of our prints on Cougar Natural, which looks like an antique white. The Voltron Variant print is on Cougar Natural. So, the prints are printed on Premium papers that are going to last a lifetime.
Marc: I don’t have a chemistry degree, but looking into how they turn wood pulp into paper that is acid free is one huge chemistry experiment. It’s incredible they last this long.
Chris: It’s funny, there’s a lot behind one limited edition print. A lot goes into it. The inks, the artist, the paper, the process behind planning the whole release, the licenses, the companies that own the licenses. It’s a really complex and interesting process.
Marc: So, how did you get into the business of the limited edition screen print industry?
Chris: We own a printing company, Giclee Printing Company, and we worked with a lot of different artists. And just seeing all the different artwork that came through our company, and all the different people that collect this artwork, we just thought it would be a good idea to start a different niche in the limited edition screen print collecting industry. A lot of the collectors are collecting cinema prints done by Mondo. They kind of started the screen print collecting industry with cinema and there’s also a huge following for actual concert prints. When a band does a tour, they do a tour poster, which is screen printed, and people collect those. So, we wanted to take that idea, and go down a different avenue with the collectible toy market, and the collectible retro cartoon market.
Marc: Just so we’re clear here, I love the retro cartoon market!
Chris: I think a lot of people do. Our main audience is the 24-45 year-old people that grew up with this stuff.
Marc: That’s me!
Chris: Yeah, me too! They grew up with Transformers, Voltron, Thundercats, He-Man, GI Joe, so it’s a huge audience.
Marc: What is the significance of having the Variant Print along with the Original Print?
Chris: With the limited prints, if you want to collect them, there’s a magnetism to the variant option. It’s more limited. It’s a different color scheme. Sometimes you might use a glow-in-the-dark or metallic inks on a variant option.
Marc: Oh, wow!
Chris: With Voltron, the regular option is a lower price, more people can grab that. But if you want the higher-priced option with metallic inks on Cougar Natural paper, here’s what you have. The Voltron variant is limited to only 200 prints. There’s never going to be any more of that particular variant.
Marc: I’ll take 2 then, before they’re gone!
Chris: You bet! We are starting to sell them on Thursday at Wizard World Comic Con.
Here is the official press release from Acidfree Gallery:
“We have an exciting lineup of new prints we are releasing at Wizard World Philadelphia, May 30-June 2, 2013. Look for us at booth 555! We will start selling all prints as soon as the floor opens on May 30th! Be sure to find us on the map and we look forward to seeing you there! We will be rolling all prints in tissue and kraft paper so be sure to bring your favorite tube for added protection.
Come meet Tom Whalen on Friday at 1:00-3:00pm at our Booth 555! He will be signing his new print – Voltron!
Looking forward to seeing you all there! Follow on Facebook and Twitter for up to date information about the show. Also we will be releasing any remaining prints online soon after Wizard World! Stay tuned for details!”
Here are the specs on each print:
Starscream by Jesse Philips – $50.00
18 x 24
Limited to 100
Starscream (variant colors) by Jesse Philips – $60.00
18×24 – 5 color screen print
Limited to 55
Voltron by Tom Whalen – $50.00
18 x 24
Limited to 300
Voltron (variant colors) by Tom Whalen – $65.00
18×24 – 7 color screen print with Metallic Inks
Limited to 100
Dinobots by Kevin Tong – $65.00
36 x 24
Limited to 175
Soundwave by Laurent Durieux – $65.00
24 x 36
Limited to 275
Soundwave (variant colors) by Laurent Durieux – $80.00
24×36 – 8 color screen print with Metallic Inks
Limited to 84