In February Issue of Rangefinder Magazine:
"Jon Cone - The Five-tool Player of Digital Output"
by Kat Silverglate
click here to download (533kb pdf)
Cone Editions Press is now located in the rural village of East Topsham, Vermont. However, it was founded in 1980 in Port Chester, NY as an experimental, collaborative print workshop by Jon Cone. With an interest in painterly abstraction, Cone invited painters associated with the 1950's New York School including Norman Bluhm, Stanley Boxer, Lester Johnson and Wolf Kahn to collaborate with him in printmaking using screenprint, intaglio, and monoprint.
In 1983, Cone began to work with artists of his own generation. Many younger painters made prints at the Port Chester, NY studio including Emily Cheng, Lydia Dona, Willy Heeks, David Humphrey, David Kapp, Archie Rand and Carole Seborovski. The studio's early emphasis was on direct techniques including hand drawn screenprints using crayons and resists developed by Jon Cone.
In 1984 Jon Cone began experimenting with computers and printmaking. Cone considered these early experiments as an adjunct to the direct printmaking produced in the studio. One of the earliest collaborations with Joel Fisher produced temporal works in which the artist's drawings were digitized with an early prototype scanner and transformed by Cone into sound files which were edited with the artist's ears through a software produced in HyperCard by Cone. Ultimately, Cone and Fisher would produce unique computer derived screenprints as well as a unique etching produced from code written by Cone based on an anagram by Joel Fisher.
In 1985, the studio added aquatint photogravure etching, which permitted artists to start etchings from hand painted mylars. In 1986 the studio began including relief printing. Two highly popular relief print projects included Stanley Boxer's intaglio wiped woodcarved monoprints and the monumental sized Potato Prints Series with Archie Rand.
David Humphrey and Jon Cone collaborated in 1986 on the first of more than 14 years of digital projects in which they would combine computers with non-traditional printmaking. Humphrey used drawing and painting software to produce photo-etchings. Humphrey and Cone produced an elaborate digital collaboration in 1990 in which a grotesquely Orwellian use of technology enhanced personal memories scanned form the artist's family album. The results were monoprints printed from digitally screenprinted oil paint on plexiglass. Cone and Humphrey eventually collaborated on the Milk Series in which elaborate still lives composed and immersed in milk by the artist were scanned on the studio's newest equipment, a custom built 40"x60" direct scanner.
Cone Editions Gallery opened at 560 Broadway in NYC's SoHo art district in 1987 with a show of 8 large scale Poem Prints by painter Norman Bluhm and poet John Yau. Ultimately, the gallery would show the works of more than 20 artists published by Cone Editions since 1982, including the digital printmaking exhibition, The Proof.
In 1990, Cone Editions relocated to the small, rural village of East Topsham, Vermont and dedicated itself to the development of digital printmaking. Cone built a separate 4200 square foot post and beam studio with private artist's quarters. Initially the studio combined digital imaging with screenprint, photogravure, relief print and monoprint. In 1992, Cone Editions acquired its first IRIS 3047 printer, an ink jet printer which would ultimately prove to be very malleable in the hands of Cone. Melissa Meyer was the first invited artist to produce prints with this new large direct digital printer. The project consisted of IRIS printed grounds of the artist's computer manipulated paintings, on which Meyer over-printed as many as 12 additional screenprinted colors from hand painted mylars.
Cone has been developing digital methodologies and workflow which have enabled scores of photographers, imagers, digital service providers, and teachers to embrace the latest technologies with confidence and skill. Considered to be the first pioneer of digital printmaking, Cone later went on to become IRIS Graphics Development and Marketing Partner for fine arts in the early 1990s, training an entire generation of Giclée printers. Cone has been the leading developer of archival inkjet and color management systems since the late 1990s. His Piezography inks have revolutionized traditional darkroom printing just as his IRIS software and archival inks revolutionized the fine art printmaking industry in the 1990s.
Cone Editions Press' transition from an experimental traditional media print studio in 1980 into the world's first digital printmaking studio in 1984 to the leading training facility for digital photographers and printmakers reads like the history of inkjet printing. The workshops founder Jon Cone, began using digital printmaking before inkjet was feasible in the early 1980s and became IRIS Graphics Development and Marketing Partner in the early 1990s to advance IRIS Giclée inkjet printing. Ultimately, Cone Editions would develop a unique IRIS methodology and a series of hardware interfaces, software and archival inks. Cone's software and inks set up a whole new generation of printmakers, as the IRIS fine art print studio era was born.
Cone personally trained many of the more innovative and well known studios of the 90s including: David Adamson, MuseX Editions, Robert Buckenmeyer's UDC, Jamie Cook, Mike Hunter, Donald Saff's SaffTech, Robert Rauschenberg's Untitled Press and many others. In the late 1990s Cone turned his attention to developing inks and software for and facilitating process and workflow with EPSON inkjet printers. With Cone's guidance, software and inks, digital printmaking became accessible to the latest generation of digital printmakers. A whole new Black and White generation is successfully using Cone's latest innovative products: Piezography® and PiezoTone™ brand software and inks for EPSON printers.
"We practice what we teach". Since 1984, Cone Editions Press has been producing some of the most innovative digital photographic projects in the world. Five pivotal exhibitions in 1997/1998 launched inkjet printing into the public's eye as a valid photographic medium. David Humphrey's suite of digital inkjet prints utilizing large formt scanning played an important role in "(re) Mediation: The Digital in Contemporary American Printmaking" which was the United States winning entry in the prestigious 6th annual Biennial of Graphic Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Washington D.C.'s The Corcoran Gallery of Art launched the Gordon Parks Retrospective, "Half Past Autumn" in 1998, and which is still touring the nation. The color prints were produced at Cone Editions Press with the IRIS Giclée process. Diana Michener's extraordinary "Solitaire" exhibition at Pace MacGill Gallery in 1997 was produced with a one-off IRIS DigitalPlatinum monochromatic process on thin sheets of Japanese hand made Washi paper. Richard Avedon's "In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort", a fashion portfolio photographed and created for The New Yorker, November 6, 1995 issue was painstakingly reproduced as a limited edition IRIS portfolio in 1997 & 1998 from the original transparencies. The Painted Photograph at the Real Gallery in NYC highlighted several photographic hybrid process from Cone Editions. Bill Jones, editor of ArtByte Magazine wrote the catalogue essay. Many photographers works have been produced by Cone's studio including: Lynne Davis, Barbara Ess, Saul Leiter, Jesse Orosco, and Kiki Smith to name just a few. Cone Editions workshops offer attendees the opportunity to produce their work in the same innovative studio that has been used to realize countless visions, and to learn new skills and foundation from the masters of the digital print medium.
Cone Editions digital printmaking workshops are hands-on and cover a wide range of techniques, equipment and materials. The workshops take place in the studios of Cone Editions Press and offer attendees the unique opportunity to learn workflow and procedures from the masters. These workshops are an excellent opportunity to learn proven workflow in a fully equipped digital printmaking studio immersed in the latest technologies. Come see why Margaret Miller, Director of the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum declared that "Jon Cone is almost the Tamarind of the moment, because he's done so much with the training and adapting of this new medium for printmaking."