Pitch Black Printing
Artists need printing. Photographers, for example, often want to sell high-quality prints of their work. Painters want to document original pieces for their portfolios. While talking to artist friends, Megan O’Reilly heard them say that they weren’t always satisfied with the local options for printing. They were either getting their printing done at corporate monoliths or ordering online, which meant they weren’t always getting what they wanted, and it was always impersonal.
She and business partner Maurice Harold decided to meet that need by opening a print shop called Pitch Black Printing.
“We wanted to be a support system for our local art community,” said O’Reilly.
The duo started out with a home-based business in September 2015 and found their client list growing quickly.
“We were in my spare bedroom, and then it spilled into my living room, and then we needed a space,” said O’Reilly.
The company’s brick-and-mortar shop at 1108 California Ave. opened last June. They offer printing services geared toward artists, like canvas printing, high quality photo prints, and artwork duplication.
“It’s fun for us when people come in and say, ’Hey, can you do this?’” said O’Reilly. “We will figure it out.” Solving problems such as printing work that’s larger than their printing equipment, for example, has turned into something of a sport.
A few artists, including locals like Mike Lucido and A.L. Kaplan, sell prints and other artwork out of the shop. The business also hosts rotating art exhibitions on roughly a monthly basis. These tend to be a mix of solo and group exhibitions—and the curatorial approach is more inclusive than selective. The February exhibition was a solo show by painter Kaelyn McGowen, and in March, the shop will host Level Up, a video game-themed exhibition.
Local artists like Lucido, Jeff “Metal Jeff” Rogers and Christopher Stehman will present works in a variety of media, all of it inspired by classic games like Street Fighter 2, Pac-Man and Super Mario Brothers. It’s a good theme for an art show since many artists are drawn toward video games—even if they’re not active gamers now, they played them as kids, and the imagery of games is often compelling.
The opening reception will feature music, food and playable video games.
In July, the shop plans to host a “tiny art” exhibition for Artown.
“We get to see so much cool stuff,” said O’Reilly. “It actually blows all of our extra cash, because we print something, and then we want one and buy it right back from the artist. … My background is in electrical wholesale and lighting and things like that, so I’m used to working with contractors and people like that. It is so much cooler working with creative people because it’s just a different energy. Everyone gets excited about everything.”
Of course, Pitch Black Printing also provides printing services—like business cards, wedding invitations, birth announcements and engagement photos—that non-artists might need. They printed the menus for the local restaurant Feast, for example.
But artists sometimes need those services too.
“It’s been kind of neat because people come in to get their fine art prints done, and eventually they say, ’I should probably get some business cards,’” said Harold. “OK, we’ll do that. ’Stickers?’ We’ll do that too.”