By Lisa Howard
THIS ISN’T INKJET OR LASER PRINTING. IT ISN’T EVEN PICKING UP FULL-COLOR PHOTOS FROM CVS. This is meticulously rendered, high-end digital printing, the kind coveted by visual artists who want to fully showcase their work.
“Printing digital media is a high art,” says Karen Sanders. “It’s a combination of science and art, and it’s not easy to find a good printer anymore—somebody who truly knows what they’re doing is very rare. Larry is that person.”
The Larry she’s talking about is Larry Melkus of Fine Art Printing. He attended the Center for Creative Studies back when it was still called the Detroit Society of Arts & Crafts, studying photography with a focus on art.
Upon graduating, he went on to open his own photography studio and worked with commercial advertising clients, creating prints for trade shows, automotive companies, and other commercial entities. But, after about 30 years of commercial work, Larry decided to shift his specialty to the art world; nowadays, he works almost exclusively with visual artists.
“I can digitally scan anything I can get through the door and create a high-definition, color-corrected digital reproduction of that art and then make a print of it, whether the artwork is a sculpture or a 6’x10’ canvas,” says Larry.
HE CAN MAKE PRINTS OF DRAWINGS, PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES, collages, sketches – you name it. He can even transform relatively low-quality digital files into striking images, which is why he encourages anyone with beloved digital photos to let him work with those files. “As far as how the image can be presented and how big it can get, the limitations are more about the skills of the person making the prints rather than the size of the digital file itself,” he says, pointing out that today’s advanced digital tools allow him to capitalize on an image’s best features.
“Making prints sometimes seems to be of a thing of a past, yet it isn’t. When people see a completed print from a digital file, they get pretty excited about it,” Karen adds. She’s also a grad of CCS, although she eventually moved away from Michigan to Texas, where she taught digital media at the University of Texas for 15 years. About six years ago, she moved back to Detroit and reconnected with the art community here.
Then in November of 2021, she heard that Larry was looking for an assistant. As a one-man shop with a sterling reputation among artists, he was slammed with work. She applied for the job and landed her dream opportunity.
“I’ve had more engagement with the artist community in six months of working here than I had during the entire six years I’d been back in Detroit,” she says. “That’s because Larry takes the time to talk to people individually and helps them understand the process of making their art into a print. He educates people about what’s possible.”
That desire to help artists and the art-interested realize the potential of digital media attracts both local talent and artists from other states—Larry regularly works with clients from New York, Boston, and Texas as well as Metro Detroit artists. The materials he uses are durable, heavyweight canvases and art paper, the kind of archival material you see in galleries and museums. But whether he’s collaborating with a painter looking to document their work in the form of a book or a casual photographer who wants to make a cherished photo into a print, his goal remains the same: To create a compelling work of art.
732 Hilton Road, Ferndale | 248.571.0111 www.facebook.com/Fine.Art.Printing.MI