Takeaway quality canvas printingBy Paul Robins
October 31, 2008
From his art gallery in Harris Arcade, Ross Hale restores old photographs on to high quality canvas and does some weird and wonderful things with drinks cans.
He told Paul Robins about his colourful business.
The business: Takeaway Gallery, 18 Harris Arcade, Reading, (0118) 950 2742, www.takeaway.eu.com Open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5.30pm.
The boss: Owner and photographer Ross Hale.
What is your business about? “The Takeaway Gallery used to do printing on paper, but that has made way almost exclusively for high quality canvas printing.
“I print both my own images and take customers’ old photographs and print them on to paper or real canvas. The restoration side of the business has really grown recently.”
Tell me about your work involving cans? “It all started in the summer when I noticed a lot of flattened drinks cans in the road.
“They were bright and colourful and had these human qualities. So I started collecting them and using them in my prints as a bit of fun.
“Although some aren’t that flat, so I get some double sided tape and stick them to the road outside and wait for the buses to run over them for an hour or so.”
How did you start? “Photography has always been an interest of mine, but I found the cost of getting my work shown in galleries was totally impractical.
“I was walking through the Harris Arcade about four years ago and I saw these premises which had a lot of natural light, and decided to go for it. It took six months or so before I was properly in business.”
Who are your customers? “A wide range from families to local studios. But I do get a lot of young couples with their first child.
“Typically they have captured a great snapshot of the child but the background is not what they want, so they come to me to fix it.
“I honestly cannot believe how many regular customers I have from places like Newbury and Oxford – it’s absurd really.”
How long do canvas prints last for? “Canvasses and inkjet prints were notorious for fading very quickly, but the new pigment ink we use is much more resistant.
“Any print will fade if it is left in direct sunlight, but if hung indoors out of direct sunlight, 75 years should be a reasonable estimate.”
What’s the feedback been like? “Generally people are delighted when they bring a small original photo in and then compare it to the finished canvas print.
"They’re amazed at how good something can look from a little print.
“With the digital technology available to us it makes it very easy to enhance and restore.”
Has your business been affected by the credit crunch? “Not really. This September was much better than last September, although things have tailed off in October.
It’s difficult to know whether people are genuinely feeling the pinch or just saving for Christmas.”
What’s it like being the boss? “It came as a revelation.
"Prior to that I had spent five years working on a trading estate in Slough.
"I used to dread getting up, but now coming to work is a pleasure because it doesn’t feel like work. I love everything I do.”
What are your plans for the future? “Canvas printing is definitely the direction I want to move into.
"I can produce a good quality product and print it for my customers in a cost effective way. That is defintely the way forward.
“I am also producing a new brochure which will solely feature examples of my customers’ prints.”