Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Dr Paul Laidler

Current Research

The majority of Paul's research activity is conducted through his involvement in the production of collaborative artwork and in the running of the CFPR digital print studio. The collaborative digital studio projects are often part of larger research grants or serve as a means to instigate further research projects. Research activities in the digital print studio often include practice led projects initiated through artist residencies, invitations or consultations. The holistic nature of creating digital prints within the collaborative print studio environment is documented and archived with a view to disseminating this activity as part of the centre's research outputs.


Visualising Colour Trends, REACT ‘Pump Priming Project'

grant: REACT
awarded to: Lead Academic Partner Dr Paul Laidler
Creative Economy Partner Arthur Buxton,
Dates 1.05.2013 – 31.11.2013

Project details:

How might people tell stories with colour, reimagine their photographs and create bespoke, personal printed artifacts using any collection of images? This project will explore the field of colour trend visualization. The collaboration will investigate target audiences and scope the development of easy-to-use software to engage users with the world around them through colour.

CFPR Editions

Researcher: Dr Paul Laidler  

Project details: The collaborative print studio has had a profound impact upon the production and realisation of some of the most innovative prints within the discipline of fine art printmaking. Dr Paul Ladler’s research explores the impact of digital technology on the working process of the practice-led artist within the field of printmaking which has been traditionally centred within the hand and mechanical machine. His research hypothesis what constitutes print practice for visual artists today?

The research investigates the mediation of the concept through a digital production process with artists through the publishing studio CFPR Editions. By identifying different approaches, sensibilities and philosophies when publishing editions with artists, Dr Laidler addresses the often de-emphasised field of collaboration in the fine arts as a means to locate the collaborative endeavour that is predicated in production and facilitation.


Investigating the expanding field of production and interpretation of the digital printed artefact in a visual arts context

Researcher grant: SPUR 3 – Grants for early career researchers at UWE 2011/12
awarded to:Paul Laidler

Project details:

This research project will investigate what constitutes a print today for visual artists? Has digital technology diluted the medium so much that print is becoming a redundant term in creative practice?
Within creative arts practice, print processes have historically transferred from industry to the creative arts, for example lithography, screenprint and now digital print. The introduction of digital as a highly mutable and ubiquitous technology has expanded the possibilities of print whist evolving and redefining fine art print practices. The rapid advancement of digital is making it harder to define what a 'print' actually is; for example, rapid prototyping  (3D printing) is an industrial process that can be used to create three-dimensional printed artefacts in a growing number of synthetic and organic materials. From a creative perspective this project proposes to explore this nascent field, as a context to revisit the printed artefact within a wider framework. From a fine art print perspective the investigation will address how new technologies are blurring the boundaries between disciplines whilst extending the definition and possibilities of the printed artefact and the graphic image.

KTP between Dycem Ltd and the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE

Awarding body: Technology Strategy Board
Awarded to: Stephen Hoskins
supervisor: Paul Laidler
Researcher participants: Lee Hamilton
Project duration: 2010-2012

Project details:
The project aims to develop and enhance a new decontamination flooring range that has the capacity for incorporating digitally printed logos and signage into the company’s production to facilitate growth and entry into new markets -to find ways of printing customer logos, patterns, or advertising and marketing messages on the flooring. This partnership will enable the company to create a premium product for new and existing customers. Part of the project is to build a dedicated, in-house design and print facility to enable on-demand print manufacturing.

The printed flooring will be an eye-catching and innovative promotional tool for our customers to communicate marketing messages and will increase our profitability. This new KTP is directly linked to CFPR's knowledge on inks and wide-format printing, and is a great opportunity to extend this experience for use on different substrates such as specialist flooring and textiles. The project is a great example of applying design knowledge in an industrial setting.

PhD Study

Collaborative digital wide format printing: Methods and considerations for the artist printer

The aims of this research have been generated through working with artists to facilitate the production of digitally generated or mediated fine art prints. Digital printing is a relatively new addition to the field of the artists print. Although initially the practice has received much criticism from print traditionalists, many of the obstacles to its acceptance have been removed in recent years.

Artists can now access specially prepared fine art papers which can accept highly lightfast, pigmented inks. These essential elements now bring into close proximity, a baseline of quality previously set by museum and artist standards. To explore and document this new territory the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England, Bristol have instigated a residency programme, inviting a broad range of artists to submit work for selection. The scheme has run for 12 months with work being produced for artists.

My role in this scheme has been what could be described as a ‘master printer’ – I use this term loosely as traditionally a master printer is someone who has learned their craft from long years of study with a master. Leonard Lehrer defines some of the characteristics that are embody within such individuals as: “immense skill with diplomacy and endurance, patience with knowledge; they set the tone of the project, maintain its rhythm, and are expected to have answers for everything…” However, because the area of digital printing is relatively new, this kind of training is difficult to access. The term ‘master printer’ here is used as an ideal, with the intention that this research will ask whether, through the increased democratisation of technology, the role is still significant. It will also examine how the master printer may mediate the work and whether this is still acceptable or necessary, and if so what tactics and strategies have been previously used.

Collaborative Digital Print Studio Projects

Substrate creation and alternative surface coating for ink-jet print on canvas: External production within the collaborative print studio

Researchers: Steve Hoskins and Paul Laidler
Institutional Collaborator: Rijks Akademie
Artist Collaborator: Richard Hamilton
Industrial Collaborator:Hewlett Packard

Project details:
The CFPR digital print studio has been working collaborativley with Richard Hamilton for some years now on a range of different inkjet printed projects. The most recent collaborative work is Hamilton's Shock and Awe ink-jet on canvas print. In conjunction with HP and the Hamilton project the CFPR has instigated a specially manufactured ink-jet coated linen canvas for the output of the digital file. The printing of the canvas also brought up further considerations for coating the ink-jet surface and subsequently lead to further international collaboration with the Rijks Akademie in Amsterdam Holland and their coatings department.
By using the collaborative print studio method as part of a practice lead project the artists aspirations for an ink-jet print have instigated the development of a new ink-jet substrate and an alternative to current canvas coating options within the fine art printing market. The project also demonstrates the identification and utilisation of external print production collaborators within the holistic practice of the fine art digital print studio.

Edition practice

Researcher: Paul Laidler
Artist Collaborator: Carolyn Bunt

Project details:
As part of the CFPR's commitment and interest toward the production of fine art prints the wide format digital print facility has begun selecting artists to produce a small edition of prints. The invitation process selects artist work that may benefit from the opportunity of accessing the CFPR's wide format ink-jet printing facilities and contribute to the centre's eclectic print archive.

Carolyn Bunt's work had previously been produced using the lambda print process and in this instance had not quite met with her expectation for the final image. The prints produced over a two day period at the centre assessed the qualities of the digital image in relation to selection of substrate, printer device and scale.
The final work was exhibited at the Zoo 2009 Art Fair London and represented by the ROOM Gallery