Aug 22, 2023 • 7 min read

Why Artist Nick Gentry Chose Print-On-Demand For His Exciting Retrospective

Here’s what happened when Nick Gentry tested our print-on-demand service, PrintLink.

Why Artist Nick Gentry Chose Print-On-Demand For His Exciting Retrospective

It’s not uncommon for art lovers to pick up a Leaflet or Booklet to complement their visit to a gallery or museum. But for established artists, printing a publication for an upcoming show can seem like curating another exhibition entirely. They require more discernment on the artist’s part, and their primary purpose is to convey what’s on display and serve as a lasting reminder of an event.

To quote Michael Glover, an exhibition publication should “...bring over something of the flavor, the temper, the attitude, the very feel of the show, while revealing something important to us about the nature of its subject”. But British artist Nick Gentry's latest project is more of a retrospective, showcasing work over a 12-year timeframe (more of that later). Nick gives redundant technology a new purpose by transforming it into captivating large-scale portraits. Materials include VHS tapes, CDs, film negatives, floppy disks, polaroids and cassettes. He either gathers the items himself, gets them sent to him by admirers of his work or asks the public to contribute items via social media. Inspired by internet culture, he grew up during a pivotal time in modern technological advancement and now makes art to highlight themes like nostalgia, identity, consumerism and environmentalism. He’s also worked with several high-profile brands, including WWF and Tusk.

Print on demand for artists is a viable option for those looking to earn additional income without handling inventory, giving more time to focus on creative output. Having previously printed his book ‘U’, Nick created an A4-size Hardcover Book documenting his upcoming exhibition ‘Skin Deep’ at The Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami. Across 90+ pages, his portraits appear in detailed, full-color splendor alongside behind-the-scenes shots and preliminary sketches. His drawings provide an intriguing insight into the planning and construction of the images, with notes on materials, color choices, and application. Only when we study the finer details of the humans in his portraits do we realize that the facial features, particularly eyes, are represented by outdated, synthetic materials. Viewers may feel somewhat distanced at first, but it compels us to study his work harder and think about the broader issues surrounding our uneasy and ever-evolving relationship with technology from the past, now and in the future.


We caught up with Nick to learn more about his book and experience with PrintLink:


Nick, why did you want to create a publication in the first place? 

I wanted a publication to consolidate my work, reflect on my journey, and reconnect with artworks that often disappear to galleries - seeing them as a series builds a narrative and lends itself well to the concepts that are in the work. Since my art is a social project, it helps engage those interested in learning and participating.


Your publication is called ‘Skin Deep’ - what was the thinking behind this?

‘Skin Deep’ draws from the traditional practice of portrait artists depicting ‘skin’ with paint on canvas. In my work, historical media forms become the skin, revealing a mosaic of labels that tell deeper stories. The publication delves into the realm of deep fakes, highlighting our evolving perceptions of truth in this digital age. It reflects on the disconnect between our digital and true selves and examines societal notions of beauty from the silver screen era to today’s social media influences. Central to this is the juxtaposition of human aging against technological obsolescence.


You’ve beaten us to an interview and transcribed an AI-led one in your publication! Why did you decide to incorporate this?

AI has been a focus of my artwork for over ten years, so naturally, when Chat GPT emerged, I was fascinated by it. Incorporating an AI-led interview felt appropriate, given the thematic convergence of my art, which repurposes old computer components. Engaging with AI allowed a unique dialog between the past and future of technology. It was an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of art and its intersections with AI, creating a multi-layered conversation.



What does print offer you and your artwork as mediums that a canvas does not?

Print offers a tactile intimacy that resonates with my work’s emphasis on the tangible and historical. I construct communal narratives into each artwork, and this printed collection gives me a chance to develop this collective element further into a series. While digital platforms provide reach, the tactile nature of print complements the essence of my art, which celebrates the tangible relics of our past.


“[Print on demand] democratizes the publishing process, empowering creators to bring their visions to life.”


And what was it about Mixam’s print-on-demand service that appealed to you?

Mixam’s print-on-demand service resonated with me because of its adaptability and accessibility. It democratizes art, allowing more people to engage with it without the hefty investment of owning an original piece. The quality ensures that if someone chooses to, they can frame a page, and it feels just as impactful. It’s a brilliant bridge between art enthusiasts and artists.


Tell us about your process, from the editing to the book design to the final draft.

The design process began with carefully reviewing my expansive image archive and selecting pieces that best represented the narrative I envisioned. I used Adobe InDesign to create a layout, ensuring each artwork flowed seamlessly into the next, establishing a visual rhythm. To complement the visuals and provide deeper insight, I incorporated the interview, bridging the visual and textual elements for a holistic experience.



Tell us about the print options you chose - did you know how you wanted it to look beforehand?

I’ve always envisioned a substantial, tactile representation for this collection, given its celebration of tangible mediums like tapes and disks. While I’ve previously experimented with Paperback formats, marking 12 years as a full-time artist warranted something more enduring. I feel that the robustness of a Hardcover parallels the weight and depth of the artworks it showcases. In keeping with the eco-conscious ethos of my creations, I was happy to have the option to select recycled paper for the pages.


What’s your advice for anyone considering POD?

My advice for those considering POD is to jump in and try it! With its accessible costs and user-friendly interfaces, it democratizes the publishing process, empowering creators to bring their visions to life. So, if you have a unique perspective or a story to tell, you can easily venture into this space and share your creativity with the world.


To preview and purchase Nick’s publication, head to his PrintLink here. You can learn more about Nick’s retrospective ‘Skin Deep’ on his website and see more of his work on Instagram and Facebook. To start your own PrintLink, log in to your account and set up a previous order or head to our PrintLink page to launch a brand-new publication. And for more news and inspiration, check out the array of posts on Mixam's Blog and visit our Support section for helpful guidance and advice on all things print.


Image Credit: Nick Gentry

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