Moving to Japan has been wonderful, inspiring and amazing but, as an artist, it also comes with a unique set of challenges. The biggest being the hunt for the right materials. My amazing hubby had already located some amazing art supply stores with great assortments of acrylic paints and mediums by a variety of Japanese, European and North American brands. Granted, the sizes of the bottles are definitely smaller then I'm used to but I can get the stuff that I need. They also have a decent supply of cradled wood panels available, the sizes are somewhat different they measure in centimetres after all, but they have a good variety and the largest is compatible to 36"x48", a size that I like to work in. On a side note, this is probably the largest size that I would be able to fit into my Japanese sized studio anyway ;)
I am going to be part of a group exhibition for foreign artists here in Nagoya early November (more on that in my next post) and I thought it would be nice to have a 'Nagoya' piece to display. So I created a 36"x24" composition, prepared a panel and then I ran into problems.
As may or may not know, in order to transfer my many photographs to my panels I use a technique called image transfer, a technique where acrylic medium picks up the ink from a laser print after which the paper is taken away which leaves you with a clear acrylic sheet called a gel skin. Because my pieces are quite large, I like to print on 11"x17" or A3 sized paper. In Canada I had a large format inkjet photo printer, I would print my images and bring them to a copy shop to have them copied on a particular type of paper by a laser printer.
Here in Japan I was going to do the same, but then my trusty large size inkjet printer died :( Instead of buying a new large size inkjet printer my husband suggested investing in a large size laser printer instead so I could skip the step of copying my photographs and make my process more efficient. of course I happily agreed with his suggestion :D
After the new printer arrived, and we politely convinced it to speak English instead of Japanese, it was time to get to work. Having figured out the printer part, it turned out, was only half of the challenge. For the transfers to come out perfectly I need a specific type of paper and that's where the real challenge started. Event though a paper looks and feels the same, doesn't mean it will actually work the same.
I scoured the city with my little foldable shopping trolly and found a whopping 7 types of paper to try. Then I spent a day conducting paper tests and I am happy to announce that I found my paper! After my experiences with papers in the past it should not have come as a surprise that the paper coming form Kinkos is the one, it beat Canon, Epson and several Japanese brands by miles. Unfortunately they only sell it in individual sheets so I guess I'll be the weirdo who comes in to buy empty sheets of paper but hey, which cares, I found the perfect paper, work in my new studio can finally start in earnest :D