LATITUDE, at night
Walker Blackwell is a workshop teacher at the 2013 Filter Photo Festival, a photographer, master digital printmaker, organic farmer, Founder of Black Point Editions, and Co-Founder of LATITUDE, a community digital lab in Chicago. He will be teaching Pro Printing, sponsored by Calumet Photographic, at the 2013 Filter Photo Festival.
Walker Blackwell working to deconstruct Barbara Crane’s 1200 pound, iron enlarger after the Chicago photographer donated it to LATITUDE
Sarah Hadley: How did you learn to print and when did you realize that this was what you wanted to do?
Walker Blackwell: It was a long, multi-year process, but it all started in 8th grade when I decided to be home schooled. The local IT guy at my very small public school in our town in Vermont got this massive grant from Adobe. We had digital film scanners, Photoshop version 2.5, Macs… the works. I had about 8 hours of free “whatever” time to simply play and learn there every day. It was a form of escape, and I felt like I was able to master it quickly. I decided to study this in college and went to Columbia [College Chicago] for two years. I ran out of money and decided to just dive into printing professionally for artists in the region.
I recognized then (in 2004) that pigment printing was going to be a more acceptable object for art collectors to buy than dye-coupler prints due to its increased archival qualities. I founded Black Point Editions with my main partner (Nathan Baker), and together at the end of 2004 we coined the term “Pigment Print”, referring to the archival inkjet method of printmaking. Things quickly snowballed in a good direction and I was able to delve very deeply into advanced monochrome (Piezography) technology and other corners of the pigment world.
SH: How did LATITUDE come into existence?
WB: LATITUDE is the logical extension of Black Point in a post-crash world. LATITUDE is built on top of Black Point Edition’s workflow and equipment and general quality-driven ethos. Right from the very start, Black Point was so deeply embedded in the community that friends of colleagues felt they deserved massive discounts that Black Point couldn’t afford to give everyone. What I, and the founders of LATITUDE, realized was that this was a greater and greater need after 2008. Many of the established artists and Black Point’s past clients were no longer selling, but they still needed that rock-solid workflow to keep producing their work.
Walker is an incredibly talented printer and an amazing instructor as well!
Hands down…the best teacher I’ve been lucky enough to learn from.