This year, during Brighton Photo Fringe for our ‘Another Way of Looking’ programme, we hosted an exhibition of Louis Porter’s ‘The Anatomy of Business’. The show was very kindly sponsored by Spectrum, who printed and mounted the works for us and helped guide us along the way to make sure the final prints were as good as they possible could be. We interviewed them about their unique insight into what goes into an exhibition and who is doing what right now…
Can you introduce yourselves a bit, and let us know what you do at Spectrum?
Paul: I am the master printer and my background is darkroom based, developing and hand printing. I started out as a hand printer when I was 18 years old! So I have been doing it for 28 years (I know, this sound very old!)
Andy: I came to Brighton in 1997 to study to photography and so far has forgotten to leave! I originally trained as a hand printer and evolved with the industrial as a master printer.
Hazel: I run the sales department at Spectrum and I manage large projects. I am predominately from an art history background – I’ve worked in galleries and museum archives, but my most recent position before Spectrum was as an Account Manager for a fine art publishing house.
Kayung: I look after the online sales, production and Spectrum’s social media. I’ve just graduated from a Photography masters, so I exhibit and make photography. Previously I’ve worked in digital retouching and I was selected to co-curate the Brighton Photo Fringe last year.
I expect October is a busy time for you, with all the exhibitions in Brighton. When does the excitement start to build for it for you?
Paul & Andy: Hazel has initial meetings with the biennial in the summer, so we start receiving files at September, which is really exciting! This year has been especially exciting because of the festival’s theme, the work has been so varied because of the number of communities and collectives involved.
Hazel: I am mainly involved with the Biennial and the initial meetings usually start in the summer, but I don’t see files as such until September!
Kayung: This is my first year overseeing anything Biennial related, so I have found the production process really insightful!
How closely do you work with the photographers whose exhibitions you’re printing? Do you talk to them and go through different printing methods beforehand?
Paul & Andy: It various form customer to customer, we can sit with a client for two whole days and master every image or we could work remotely like over the phone, sending test strips through the post, or sometimes they can leave the files with us. Some customers have used Spectrum for so long, that we have established a really good working relationship, so we adjust the supplied images because we know the work and artist so well.
Hazel: With reference to the biennial, my main point of contact would be Celia or Mariama at Photoworks, so I am not in direct contact with the photographers. However, working on projects such as photography awards, I can be in touch with a variety of people – including the photographer, curators, the photographer’s assistant, photography agencies and shipping companies. Usually photographers have an idea of what they are after and our large projects always go through our Studio, so Paul or Andy will be in direct contact with the photographer.
Kayung:I am in contact with any artists whom wish to use the online service . I suggest printing and mounting options based on the visual and conceptual elements of their work, alongside practical concerns like financial budget and logistics of the install.
You’re in a unique position in getting a sneak preview of a lot of exhibitions and photographers developing work. This must be an exciting part of the job?
Paul & Andy: It’s interesting to see how photographer’s work develop over time and to see the work in the initial stages up to the final edit for the show.
Hazel: It is great to work on exhibitions – especially when a diverse range of photographers are involved. I also think competitions are exciting, as we can work so closely with a photographer for months at a time and when the awards ceremonies come around, we are all on tender hooks!
Kayung: I agree with Paul & Andy! It’s very exciting to see how a show develops from a series of emails/phone calls to seeing the test prints laid on the work tops.
What stage of the job gives you the most satisfaction?
Paul: Going to see the show displayed, because you really see how the space transform the image!
Andy: It is seeing the work seeing in situ and hearing positive feedback from the work we produced.
Hazel: I enjoy reading the papers at the weekend and reading reviews on projects we have helped to produce. Also, seeing the work in situ is also rather satisfying!
Kayung: I think one of the nicest aspects of my job is seeing is how the final piece has been realised to the artist’s expectation, that’s very rewarding.
Any tips for exhibitions or photographers we should be checking out at the moment, who you work with?
Paul: I really like working with Gideon Mendel. His last series Floods had a great exhibition at Somerset house and went on to show at ICP at New York for two months.
Andy: We recently did stuff for Harrison and Wood, it’s always a pleasure working with Paul. I like their unique style of work.
Hazel: I tend to like images with a sense of history – particularly social history, which I think is to do with my art history background. I am also interested in documentary photography – saying that, my flat is full of portrait photography! Maybe I just have a fascination with people! I have always loved the work of Jackie Nickerson – I love her sense of composition! www.jackienickerson.com. With regards to exhibitions, I am going to a talk at the Grimaldi Gavin Gallery tonight on Russian Criminal Tattoo Police Files. The actual exhibition is on until the 22nd November – we did not print the work, but I would definitely recommend checking it out.
Kayung: We produced the Elinor Carrucci’s prints for Guernsey photography festival which has just recently finished! I was really impressed with the line-up for this year’s selection, which I think is great especially for a small and emerging photography festival.