The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

A look at NKU’s Visual Arts Print Lab: New leadership, future plans

October 13, 2022


Evey Cooper, a junior Bachelor’s of Fine Arts student, is the new tech at the Visual Arts Print Lab, located on the fourth floor of the School of the Arts. The print lab tech job includes handling everything related to printing digital artwork for students. Responsibilities include charging the students, correctly sizing images, making sure that the art still looks right after it is printed and performing regular printer upkeep.

Cooper recalls being excited when approached by professors Chris Smith and Rachael Banks about the position.

“It felt nice that Rachael and Chris trusted me with the responsibility and that they recognized I have a sense of leadership,” Cooper said. 

Josafina Garcia, a senior integrated studies student, has just reached her one year mark of working for the print lab. Garcia’s favorite part of working at the lab is her co-workers. 

When speaking of her position in the lab, Garcia says it’s “helpful to bounce stuff off of other photo people.” 

Working in the print lab has allowed both students to feel more involved on campus and in their photography. They both spend more time on campus because of this position, and that has allowed them to get closer with the community. 

This leadership position also influences them in getting a job post graduation, as it provides valuable hands-on experience in the visual arts field. They have the opportunity to see works from the community and collaborate with artists of the same medium.

“It’s almost something I wish I could continue … something that I think is really interesting. It is inspiring to see people’s work, I wish I could keep seeing people’s creativity,” Cooper said.

Professor Rachael Banks, who has been at NKU since 2016, firmly believes in how beneficial this position can be for furthering the practice of any artist who prints. From the exposure of being in the lab to helping other students, it creates the best learning environment for these students. 

I firmly believe that teaching is the action that helps you learn and understand something better, so when print lab technicians run into issues with other student work, it provides them an opportunity to teach their peers. In return, they have a more thorough understanding of printing practices,” Banks said.

When it comes to the future, Banks has many goals for the print lab. Banks dreams of seeing an almost self-sufficient print lab—one with more printers and card-payment systems on the computers. She believes this would allow for students to work more independently, get their own experience in the print lab and have more control over their own prints, while the lab techs could spend more of their time focusing on printer maintenance and upkeep. 

“In a perfect world, we would have a full-time staff member who managed the print lab with student print techs who worked as assistants. I would love to see the print lab operate during business hours for five days a week and have staff in the lab who do not have to spend as much time managing payment and modifying student prints,” Banks said.

With the appropriate funding and modifications, Banks can see the print lab one day having 24-hour access for advanced students. These changes could get the most benefits out of the Visual Arts Print Lab, said Banks.

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