Spotlight on Ataraxia Studios – news – Brief Article – Company Profile
BENSALEM, Pa.–Ataraxia Studio started with a simple wish to preserve photographs for future generations. Two decades later Racey Gilbert, the company’s president, has parlayed that goal into an ever-evolving publishing and printing business.
In the 1980s Gilbert brought together a research team that included staffers at 3M, Polaroid’s engineering staff and a former VP of Ilford USA. What developed–after 20 years and several million dollars–was a modern, high-resolution version of the classic carbon process that produces a high-quality color photo that will not fade. Gilbert aptly named the company Ataraxia, a Greek word meaning peace or tranquility, with the peace of mind that the eyes of tomorrow can view the printed images of today.
As Ataraxia developed its clientele, it encountered more and more requests for giclee prints. Maureen Dougherty, director of sales and marketing, said, “As a photographic lab, we began to encounter requests for giclee prints in addition to our own proprietary pigment prints. So Ataraxia’s clientele grew not only to include photographers but artists who wanted their work produced as giclee prints.” Continuing the evolution, Ataraxia soon began printing for publishers.
In 2001, artist Gary Kelley came into the fore when Ataraxia began printing his work in limited edition. His publisher was unable to continue due to health problems, which forged a relationship between Kelley and Ataraxia. Today, Ataraxia is the exclusive publisher of his work.
Kelley is now a catalyst in Ataraxia’s evolution and the addition of more artists to the company’s roster. After artists are chosen by a selection committee, “everybody goes before Gary Kelley because we respect his opinion on our artists so much. He is our premiere artist, and he is the man who decides who he `hangs’ with,” said Dougherty. “Our idea is to keep our publishing company exclusive and be highly selective in our choices.”
Kelley, for his part, is a seasoned artist. He created the murals displayed at Barnes & Noble bookstores across the country which depict famous writers of the past two centuries. His work has also been commissioned by publications such as Time, Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and Playboy. He repertoire also includes illustrations for several books and plays. And this year, he is the official artist for the Kentucky Derby.
Other hang-worthy Ataraxia artists include painters James Bennett, Gregory Manchess, Glenn Harring, Loren Long and Marcus Antonius Jansen. “Ataraxia has an extremely varied group of artists in order to satisfy varied artistic tastes. We have fun-loving, high jivin’, jammin’ music and dance themes, sport and game series, elegant painterly art, as well as sophisticated, romantic art. We are always scouting and dreaming,” said Dougherty.
According to Dougherty, Ataraxia is often told by galleries that it has “an eye.” She feels that it is that “eye” that brings the studio to the forefront with a separate and distinct style. “We attract those who wish to interact with the art not simply sit back and study it,” she said. “That is what sets us apart.”
Technologically, what sets Ataraxia apart is its proprietary photographic printing process that is a “highly archival process.” The pigment prints of today are expected to endure in excess of 500 years.
All of Ataraxia’s giclee prints are done in-house. Still, Dougherty said, “The artists are demanding. By the time a print has been completed, it is as if the artist has recreated the original. But we cater to the needs of our artists because it is our belief that no other printmaker is able to satisfy the creative needs of our artists the way our technical staff does.” Their pride as publishers obligates them to be printmakers as well.
“It makes it a lot better for the artist because their work is not going out of house to a printer and then coming back to us. So it’s all-inclusive here. It makes the package much better for the artist,” she added.
Ataraxia Studio is not finished evolving. “We will continue to enhance the world of art through a constant genesis and rebirth of our own company. We will never be satisfied to simply remain still–we will constantly follow Racey Gilbert’s vision to find new niches in which to expand our products and services,” Dougherty said.
FACTS & FIGURES
* Ataraxia Studios started two decades ago as a photo preservation company.
* Today, the company has grown to become state-of-the-art photo lab, an established giclee printer and a publisher itself.
* Artists include Gary Kelley, James Bennett, Gregory Manchess, Glenn Harring, Loren Long and Marcus Antonius Jansen.
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