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Carol Covington Is Advancing Digital Printing into the World of Fine Art

Through her advocacy and technical know-how, she has helped advance digital printing into the world of fine art.

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AP: Your nomination form states, “Carol foresaw the paradigm shift from large-format, analog, wet lab to digital, ink-jet production finally shifting into the fine art world. Starting in 2009, she implemented and still manages the very successful transformation of Blow Up Lab into a national leader specialized in producing large-format fine art prints and murals for prestigious projects globally.” You are also a strong advocate of and have a deep history in the arts. Can you talk about the shift to digital printing of fine art and how that has shaped your career? 

CC: My partner, Frank McGrath, had owned Blow Up Lab for many years and was the first silver printing photo lab in San Francisco to convert to 100 percent digital printing in 1999 – the very early days. It wasn’t until a decade later I saw the transformation happen quickly in the art world where I was an art consultant and exhibition curator for many years. It only occurred after archival materials were created by manufacturers for the art field as everything needs to be long lasting since art is a valuable collectible, so the inks and all media needed to meet those demands. But once that happened, I noticed almost overnight that the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted an entire exhibition of ink jet (pigment) prints; and every gallery in Chelsea had inventories of archival, digital prints. This affected my career dramatically as I went to work as Frank’s business partner to manage the transformation at Blow Up Lab to a boutique, fine art, and museum murals printing specialist. That was early 2009 and we are still going strong with amazing art projects we are producing and installing daily.

AP: Your nomination form says you know what your colleagues need for their projects, and they partner with you very closely to guide them through all the newest media, archival products, and substrates as they come onto the market in this new part of the industry. Why is having strong, custom relationships with your clients as well as having an ear to the ground on new technology and trends important to you? 

CC: Because we are experts in this field and offer our clients extreme customer service as well as recommend all the advancements in the technology and media as it comes on the market for consumers, which they would not know about otherwise.

AP: What does it mean to be a woman in the wide-format digital printing industry? 

CC: As a woman, I have a strong intuition and was able to visualize this transformation of wide-format printing in the art world before it occurred; and as a result, I helped create consumers for, and participate in the innovative evolution of the wide-format industry in the fine art realm. The archival art products we have produced for artists will live on in museums and private collections forever, and that is something for which Frank and I feel we have made a special contribution to culture.

Carol’s work of promoting, then producing, large-format prints in the art business has expanded the digital printing industry into an entirely new space involving art and murals in museums, galleries, as well as hotels, restaurants, and offices both as art and promotional murals in major projects all over the US and around the world.” — Frank McGrath, Owner/President, Blow Up Lab

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Adrienne Palmer joined Big Picture magazine in 2012 after graduating from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism with a BA in magazine journalism. During her time with Big Picture, she has held the roles of assistant editor, associate editor, and managing editor, and is now serving as editor-in-chief. If she isn’t traveling, she’s planning her next trip.

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