Early digital fine art printing

The beginning of the Giclee  ( Ge-clay )  Print

 

In the late 1980s Nash began to experiment with digital images of his photography on Macintosh computers with the assistance of R. Mac Holbert who at that time was the tour manager for Crosby, Stills, and Nash as well as handling computer/technical matters for the band. Nash ran into the problem common with all personal computers running graphics software during that period: he could create very sophisticated detailed images on the computer, but there was no output device (computer printer) capable of reproducing what he saw on the computer screen. Nash and Holbert initially experimented with early commercial printers that were then becoming available and printed many images on the large format Fujix inkjet printers at UCLA's JetGraphix digital output center. When Fuji decided to stop supporting the printers, John Bilotta, who was running JetGraphix, recommended that Nash and Holbert look into the Iris printer, a new large format continuous-tone inkjet printer built for prepress proofing by IRIS Graphics, Inc.[9] Through IRIS Graphics national sales rep Steve Boulter, Nash also met programmer David Coons, a color engineer for Disney, who was already using the IRIS printer there to print images from Disney's new digital animation system.

Coons worked off hours at Disney to produce large images of 16 of Nash's photographic portraits on arches watercolor paper using Disney's in-house model 3024 IRIS printer for an 24 April 1990 show at Simon Lowinsky gallery.[10] Since most of the original negatives and prints had been lost in shipment to a book publisher, Coons had to scan contact sheets and enhance the images so they could be printed in large format. He used software he had written to output the photographic images to the IRIS printer, a machine designed to work with proprietary prepress computer systems.[11]

In July 1990 Graham Nash purchased an IRIS Graphics 3047 inkjet printer for $126,000 and set it up in a small carriage house in Manhattan Beach, California near Los Angeles. David Coons and Steve Boulter used it to print an even larger November 1990 show of Nash's work for Parco Stores in Tokyo. The show entitled Sunlight on Silver was a series of 35 celebrity portraits by Nash which were 3 feet by 4 feet in an edition of 50 prints per image, a total of 1,750 images.[12][13] Subsequently, Nash exhibited his photographs at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and elsewhere.[14]

 

Nash Editions

 

In 1991 Graham Nash agreed to fund Mac Holbert to start a fine art digital based printing company using the IRIS Graphics 3047 printer sitting in Nash's Manhattan Beach, California carriage house. Holbert retired as road manager for Crosby, Stills, and Nash so that he could run the company. It opened its doors on 1 July 1991 with the name of Nash Editions Ltd.[10] Early employees included David Coons, John Bilotta, and a serigraphic print maker named Jack Duganne. They worked to further adapt the IRIS printer to fine art printing, experimenting with ink sets to try to overcome the fast fading short longevity of IRIS prints, and even going as far as sawing off part of the print heads so they could be moved back to clear thicker printing paper stocks (voiding the $126,000 machine's warranty).[15] Nash and Holbert decided to call their fine art prints "digigraph" although Jack Duganne coined the name "Giclée" for these type of prints.[16] The company is still in operation and currently uses Epson based large format printers.

In 2005, Nash donated the original IRIS Graphics 3047 printer and Nash Editions ephemera to the National Museum of American History, a Smithsonian Institution.