New technology gives galleries and artists options

If you haven’t experienced the “blurb” yet, follow the lead of a local gallery owner and a local photo artist.

If you haven’t experienced the “blurb” yet, follow the lead of a local gallery owner and a local photo artist.

Blurb bookmaking is free software that helps users create photo books at a relatively inexpensive price compared to just printing out photos.

Artists, photographers or just snapshot-happy grandmothers can import pictures and text into professionally designed book templates and page layouts.

Artist and gallery owner Rob Schouten stumbled on the idea when he was looking for a way to showcase a sculptor’s work for an upcoming gallery show.

Colin Lambert’s sculptures impressed Schouten when he saw a few small pictures of the work before the December/January show.

“When he showed up to deliver the work, we were blown away by the beauty, gracefulness and elegance of his pieces,” Schouten said. “We asked if we could have his work through May and he agreed.”

The gallery crew wanted to create an elegant invitation for a Valentine’s Day private reception, so Schouten proceeded to take a large number of photographs of the mainly bronze figures that Lambert had created for the Greenbank show.

“When I stepped in to talk to Joe Menth of Fine Balance Imaging Studios about this, he suggested a ‘blurb’ online book,” Schouten said.

Menth showed Schouten some of the many possibilities with various sizes, formats, soft cover, hard back, image wrap, etc., and Schouten went to work.

After spending a day or two photographing the sculptures, he printed them and made color copy enlargements. He bought some colored cover-stock paper and started designing the book.

Once all design work was completed, he had a loose page mock-up of the entire book, which he took back to Fine Balance Imaging.

“Joe and I spent about a day getting everything on the computer, mostly because I had chosen a more custom layout than the blurb software offers,” Schouten said.

“Their system is incredibly versatile, so you can get as fancy as you want to spend time on it. We paid our fee with a debit card online, and off the project went.”

A week later the books arrived, well-packaged and beautifully printed. The whole process from idea to books-in-hand took one month, even though it was the height of the holiday season.

Local nature photographer and author Tom Trimbath also started making blurb books, and plans a series of five that chronicle all of Whidbey Island.

His first one, “Twelve Months at Cultus Bay, Whidbey’s Southern Tip” captures life on one corner of Whidbey Island through photos.

Trimbath’s purpose is to get his work seen by art lovers, nature buffs and Whidbey enthusiasts. He’s selling them through Moonraker Books in Langley and hopes to get them on the shelves of more Whidbey Island shops. To see Trimbath’s Web site and find out more, click here.

The Rob Schouten Gallery offers the 40-page books for sale at cost, with their main purpose being a marketing tool for interior designers, architects and collectors. Anyone who purchases one of the sculptures on display will automatically get a book as a gift.

Schouten said he has plans to create similar books for other artists featured at the gallery, including one for the sculptures of Sharon Spencer.

To find out more, visit the gallery’s Web site, click here.