Master printer Von Thomas creates museum quality custom color and black and white prints.
By Blake Carter
As a high-end photographer and a master printer, Von Thomas appreciates a high quality photograph that hangs on the wall.
“It’s a beautiful thing to look at,” he said. “It can take you out of your environment and take you someplace else. It can take you out of a bad mood and put you in a good mood. I have one picture that hangs in my house of a restaurant in New York City called Live Bait. I shot that in about 2014. It was one of the places that I liked to eat. Every time I look at that picture, it transports me back to that moment. That’s one thing that I like about pictures. It can transport you somewhere else. In the life and times that we live in now, sometimes we have to be transported somewhere else. Just for a moment to take our minds away from what we’re thinking. Pictures do magic to me.”
Like a painting, a printed picture can be a piece of fine art that adds to the decor of a home or office.
“The printed picture can say a lot to you, and it can say a lot about you,” Thomas said. “When you walk into a house of art, you feel comfortable with that person. I notice when I go into a person’s home who has art, I find my self walking around like I’m in a gallery. I know that they like that I’m admiring the things that they chose to put on their walls.”
Printing photos can be as simple as heading to places such as Target or Walgreens, but the quality of those prints will be far from fine art.
“You’re not going to get the best print,” Thomas said of such places. “You’re going to get, maybe an okay print. They don’t use custom profiles for your paper. They don’t care about how your image looks. If one of the operators at one of those stores looks at your image, they’re not going to go in and do any tweaking. They’re not going to retouch a spot that seems out of place. And they’re not going to have great paper.
“If you’re going to throw something up on the wall for your kid, and you don’t really care, then going to any kind of copy store like FedEx Office, that’s fine. But if you want something beautiful for your wall, then you really want a good print. You want to go to a printer who knows what they’re doing.”
That’s where Thomas comes in. He is a master in fine art digital printing, along with being a photographer and a filmmaker. In the early stages of the digital era, he was ahead of the curve as film was on the verge of being left behind.
“Becoming a master printer was an evolution over time, because of my early journey into the digital photography area, back in the late ‘90s,” he said. “I worked on a couple projects that used digital cameras, well before it was mainstream. I taught the very first digital program at the International Center of Photography in 2004. At the time the administration said that this is going to be the last digital class because digital was not going to last. Funny how that turned out. When they said that to me, I was working head long in digital for pretty much every major ad agency and publication in New York City.”
Thomas is originally from Los Angeles, and he attended Los Angeles High School. After working in New York City, he moved back to Los Angeles, and he has worked as a digital imaging technician on blockbuster movies such as “Jurassic World” and the “Fast and Furious” series.
Thomas opened Thomas Editions Fine Art Printing in Santa Monica, and his clients have noticed the stark difference between fine art printing and more standard printing.
“If you take my print and put it next to their print, it’s two different prints,” he said. “I’ve had clients who went to other places and they were totally dissatisfied because the colors are never right. If you’re looking for the blue in the water to be a certain color; if you’re looking for that sky to have a certain look, you probably won’t get that because they don’t have the right tools to give you that.”
Thomas prints from as small as an 8 inches by 10 inches all the way up to 5.5 feet by 10 feet. Many of his clients are artists who are preparing for an art show, and also people who are looking to decorate their homes and offices. He is seeing a resurgence in printed photos.
“This is the time of Instagram,” he said. “This is the time of putting stuff online. But I think that time is starting to slowly slip away, and we’re getting back to more of the romance of photography. And a romantic thing is having a beautiful print hanging in your home.”
Thomas Editions Fine Art Printing is located at 3007 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica. For more information, visit www.thomaseditions.com.
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