Category Archives: Displaying your art

Important documents need protective packaging

Apple, Inc. sponsored ad for Educom '87If it’s Thursday, it must be throwback time.

While today, so much of our news is digital, electronic, and fleeting, all the more reason to protect your tangible items like photos, newspapers, cherished greeting cards and other important documents in clear protective bags. We don’t have any minimums on the quantity you order, and that can help you save money, especially on the larger size bags. No matter what size you need, you can order 3, 300 or 3000.

Order your bags today, and don’t forget to take advantage of a variety of ways to save on Oak Creek coupons.

Spring is in the air, at least in some parts of the world and that means time to go through the flat files and drawers where we might find newspaper clippings, photos and other important documents. Performing this ritual, I found an accumulation of documents needing protection before decaying into yellow dust. Luckily, the older documents, like this Los Angeles Times article about Educom ’87, have long been comfortably nestled in clear plastic bags designed especially for protection, preservation and display.

The first time I worked as a consultant to Apple Computer, Inc. was in 1987 when I was one of a 3-person team hired to design and produce a daily print newspaper for the Educom ’87 international conference for higher education. For this purpose, the company Desktop Design was born, and John Grzywacz-Gray, Roger Karraker and I named our team Piece o’ Cake Productions.

Our 5-day mission was to demonstrate Apple’s cutting edge technology to university educators from around the globe by producing a daily “On-the-Spot” newspaper covering the conference. Each morning we delivered a new edition to the conference floor. To our knowledge no one had ever done this before. We were making “desktop” history. For the next three years, our Piece o’ Cake team consulted and worked with Apple, Inc. to introduce new technology to educators. Apple, Inc. sponsored ad for Educom '87 .

Try a #10 Greeting Card for Panorama Images

Angela Sharkey

Wondering what to do with your auto-stitched and panorama photos? Bookmarks aren’t the only game in town. Long rectangles, either vertical or horizontal, transform into attractive greeting cards when presented on a #10 business sized greeting card. That’s what Angela Sharkey, former Featured Artist, did recently with some of her latest paintings. Rather than try to make the oblong shapes work on an A7, A6, or A2, more traditional greeting card shapes, Sharkey opted for the less commonly used #10 size.


To set up your card in a Photoshop or other raster-oriented software, create a new document that is 10 inches wide by 8.75 inches in height. A document this size will accommodate the trim marks needed to accurately cut the card to size. If you want your image to bleed; that is, print all the way to the trimmed edge, it is important to extend your image beyond the trim marks by .125-inch. The bleed setting is represented here by the red line. The actual card trims to 9.25-inches wide by 8-inches in height. The trim is represented by the black line. A #10 card folds at the halfway, or 4-inch mark, represented here by the cyan (blue) line. All of these lines (including the black trim marks that fall at the four corners of the black trim line) are non-printing and part of the template. Simply redraw onto a printing layer the eight trim marks shown at the four corners.

 InDesign or Illustrator

If you use Adobe’s InDesign or Illustrator, set up a new document that is 9.25 inches wides and 8 inches in height. If your image will bleed, in the document setup options, create a bleed of .125 inch. Once the page is set up, drag a guide from the ruler to the 4-inch mark on the vertical ruler to indicate where the card will fold. To print, export your file to a print resolution .pdf with crop marks and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

Angela Sharkey is the curator of the Mel Sembler Gallery in the U.S. Embassy, Rome, Italy. View more of Angela’s art here.

I’m a Photo Horder

unedited octopus

I was pretty sure that among the 200-some-odd photos I had taken, there had to be an octopus somewhere.


octopus, starfish

By opening up the shadow areas and toning down the highlights in iPhoto, the values are redistributed to more closely resemble the actual scene. However notice the reflection in the lower left quadrant of the screen.

In the small dark cavern, I would have completely missed the fact that the octopus was there at all had I not made the quick adjustments that open up the shadow details. I performed the adjusted preview in iPhoto on my Macintosh, but Microsoft’s comparable software is Windows Photo Gallery.

I learned lots of valuable lessons in photojournalism classes, many long forgotten, but a couple of lessons really stuck. Thirty years ago when, as students, we were advised to Shoot a lot, our biggest complaint was the cost of film.  Today, the cost of digital equipment pales when compared to film and processing costs, so I was surprised to learn that one of my companions on a day-long adventure to the Aquarium of the Pacific was throwing away photos after she previewed them on her iPhone, deciding they didn’t “turn out.” I wondered how it was possible to make such a quick decision about the images under such poor conditions and on such a small screen.

The next day, I showed my companion a rough edit slide show of my 230 images. I put them up on the big screen tv. She, on the other hand, had only 13 images, which we viewed on her iPhone. Granted she’s not a fanatic like me, and didn’t shoot as much as I did, but I can’t help by thinking about the photos she threw away. “What if there were details in the image that she missed on the small preview screen?” I wondered. “What if she could adjust her lighting after the fact?”

The reflection in the previous images has been replaced using the “content-aware” feature in Photoshop.

My first task after downloading photos to the computer is to make preliminary adjustments to the tonal values in the images. It’s a relatively “quick” and painless process, and I finished this batch in about 2 hours, or about 30 seconds per image. Unless you are serious about photography, you might unwittingly skip this most critical step, so that’s where the hording comes in to play. Don’t throw away any photos before you perform a quick adjustment to the image’s tonal values.

In the edited photo, the reflection in the lower left is more obvious than before, so I bring my photos into Adobe Photoshop where I make all the actual refinements and adjustments. To eliminate the glare, I made a feathered rectangular selection and filled the area using the “content-aware”  feature, which gathers data from nearby pixels to simulate the surroundings.

Featured Artist Showcases Coffee Table Book

David Hartung performs a press check on his book, Macau: Work in Progress.

Featured Artist, David Hartung, performs a press check on his book, Macau: Work in Progress. A video is available for viewing at

Watch the printing, binding and packaging of Macau: Work in Progress, as photographer, David Hartung, narrates this seven-minute video on the making of his documentary coffee table volume. You can also see a novel animated preview of the entire edition at

Pearl River Gallery was founded by photographers David Hartung and Forbes Conrad as a vehicle for distributing quality photographic materials in a way that makes sense for content creators and buyers alike.

The gallery is the official venue for US distribution of David Hartung‘s book Macau: Work in Progress. Books ship from their California warehouse.

Print bins display prints in a variety of sizes

clear acrylic

Clear acrylic print bin lets browsers focus on prints, not container. The smaller prints shown here are 8x10", doubled matted with foam core back, the medium prints are 11x14", and the large are 16x20".

This clear acrylic print bin is a handy solution for storing, carrying and displaying matted prints. Molded from a single sheet of eighth-inch acrylic with two handles, the 12-inch wide display stands 9.25 inches high on a counter top or table.

The angled arms of this elegant display make it easy for visitors to flip through a dozen or more images without disrupting the viewing area.

The print bin is a no-brainer solution for artists and photographers who want to make a variety of images available for viewing in limited space. When off duty, this multi-purpose container can moonlight in the bathroom or den as a magazine or newspaper rack.


Living My Life with New Eyes

Angela Sharkey was an Oak Creek Printworks featured artist in the winter of 2009/2010.

This colorful image of Roman pines was printed and used as a bookmark.


I have been a professional artist for more than 20 years now and I have worked in both graphic design and the art industry and have found my true love in painting some 12 years ago. As an independent artist, I am constantly evolving with every changing landscape, pushing my boundaries whenever I can. My family and I move around the world quite often so I am constantly trying to find my place along the way in new and often unfamiliar cultures.

My home these days is sunny, ancient, noisy, and beautiful Rome, Italy. I visited this great city some 22 years ago as an artist living on a shoe string budget, and as many before me I was captivated by “la dolce vita.” Coming back to Italy to live has been a dream for me and I am determined to live life to the fullest. The French novelist Marcel Proust sums up my attitude in life quite well in his beautiful and poignant quote:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

With all the difficulties of moving so often and adjusting to a new life I find it fascinating how altering my vision or having new eyes can affect what I see and how I feel. This way of seeing, in turn, ultimately affects those around me—hopefully in a positive way. As I look around I see so many lives moving in different directions; everyone’s eyes are capturing a different view, giving us all our own unique perception.

Roman-pine-over-bridgeAs an artist I like to approach my work when my vision is overloaded with colors and scenes and I need to translate everything onto the canvas. I am always looking deeper, certain there is more below the surface, hoping for more clarity. In my work as an artist and in everyday life I am very drawn to color, and my art is a great way for me to express this.

Whether I am in the Tuscan countryside counting the endless cypress trees that line the country roads, or studying the rolling hills dotted with Roman pines, I envision the colors I want to capture as I sketch and study nature. Gazing upon the magnificent architecture all around me I break the images down into simple forms and shapes putting color where it once was and bringing texture into the piece. Everywhere I look I am inspired by the beautiful Italian landscapes and architecture, which I then transpose to the canvas through my own vision.

Tuscany-landscape-2011Alongside my work as an artist I am currently working as an art curator for the Mel Sembler Gallery at the US Embassy in Rome. My job allows me to show my art once a year at the gallery while the remainder of the year I scout American or international artists, along with the curating team, for those interested in showing at the gallery. Every month we show a new artist’s work which includes sculpture, painting, photography, textile art, and mixed media. I have had the privilege to meet many talented individuals and enjoy sharing in their excitement as a distinguished artist showing at the US Embassy Mel Sembler Gallery. For some artists it is their first solo show and I am honored to help them show their work in the best light possible, giving them the exposure they deserve.

In the month of March we have a special show dedicated to children’s art. The children of embassy employees submit their work which is then displayed in the gallery much to the pride of the young artists and the admiration of the adults. It allows the children a sense of confidence and accomplishment that they are able to publicly display their works. I have always enjoyed children’s art as it is uninhibited and free. This March 2012 we will be happy to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Girl Scouts of America as the Scouts submit their artwork to our gallery for the children’s art show.

I have seen firsthand the Mel Sembler gallery is more than just a venue for showing art, but a real-world setting for joining Americans and the international community. Through our art we are bringing people together to share ideas and connect our lives and families. I believe we all have the possibility to see with new eyes, regardless of the landscapes we are navigating, and bring forth positive new visions for our world.

roman-pines-bookmarkAngela Sharkey
Roma 2011

Customer gets free packaging


“I actually did not know that this contest was going on but I am thrilled that I won!  That is huge!” said Christina Groat, owner and operator of Jillian by Design.

hanging notecard bag

A2 Hanging Note card bag.

note card boxes

A2-1 note card boxes.

Jillian by Design, baby and toddler boutique, features handcrafted baby items and is named for Christina’s daughter, Jillian.

Christina was Oak Creek Printworks’ 10,000th online customer, and, in order to recognize this achievement, we announced we would give the 10,000th customer their order for free, up to $100, including shipping.

Christina’s order totaled $67.43. She used  the A2 Hanging note card bag to package her hand made “onsie stickers.Thank you cards were packaged in A2-1 note card boxes.

A2 is standard industry-speak for an “announcement” style (square flap) envelope and note card. The A2 card measures 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches when folded. The A2 announcement envelope is slightly larger, measuring 4.375 inches by 5.75 inches, with the A2 card box topping out at 4.5 inches by 5.785 inches.

A2 boxes come in a range of depths from .25 inches, holding two to five cards and envelopes, up to two inches, holding anywhere from 18 to 30 card and envelopes, depending on their thickness.

Christina recently displayed her handcrafted baby-themed products at craft fair near her home in South Lyon, Michigan. You can see all of Christina’s handiwork which is available for purchase at her website, Jillian by Design.

Michelle Luft

Michelle Luft
Jillian by Design

craft fair booth

Christina Groat

Christina Groat Jillian by Design

Could you be the next Featured Artist?

As we are about to transition to our next Featured Artist, we want to let you know that…Oak Creek Printworks is always searching for future Featured Artists!

At Oak Creek Printworks we assist artists in promoting and marketing themselves by providing packaging and displays for greeting cards, as well as presentation products for a range of artistic formats.

Featured Artists are chosen quarterly, and their work is presented on the cover and in the center spread of our catalog. The Featured Artist’s work is also displayed in our website banner, and in a blog article, where they have the opportunity to talk about their featured artwork. We link to the artist’s website to drive traffic there, and award each Featured Artist a $100 credit in products and services (including printing services).

In choosing each Featured Artist, we look for an artist whose images are strong enough to stand alone, while also working in sets, demonstrating their ability to focus on a theme that can then translate to a set of greeting cards. We review digital portfolios on an ongoing basis. There is no application to complete—just put “Featured Artist” in the subject line of an email, and let us know that you would like to be considered. Include all of your contact information, as well as your artist biography and any articles and images you’d like to see published in our catalog. If you have a website, we can review your work online, otherwise you can send us jpegs or pdf files to review. We do not return any material we receive by mail.

If you are chosen, you will be asked to sign a digital release allowing us to reproduce your images and written statements in digital and print format. We will also ask you for your artist’s statement, a biography, one or two photos of yourself, and at least 12 images of your work (ideally in 3 sets of 4). All images should be in jpeg format, 300 dpi (at least 10 megabytes each).

Check out our previous featured artists:

Niamh Slack
Elizabeth Vanduine
David Southern
Klaus Lange
Angela Sharkey
Georgia Lange

Pantone’s spring fashion colors fill out new tassel set

pms spring 2011 fashion color tasselsBookmark enthusiasts will find 10 each of 10 new spring fashion colors in this brand new tassel set. Save 20% by buying tassels in sets and be prepared to display your artwork or photos on bookmarks complemented by trendy colors.

In addition to artists, photographers and printers, bookmarks are an inexpensive and useful marketing tool for all sorts of businesses.

The designer has complete control over what’s printed or crafted on the fronts and back of the bookmarks. Customize or decorate the bookmark to make a great gift, a gift adornment, or a stocking stuffer.

Both the small and large vinyl bookmark sleeves are sold in the Oak Creek Printworks store, and have a hole punched at the end to string an adornment of beads, charms, or, to keep the price down, a 4-in chainette bookmark tassel.