For our first Closer Look feature, we want to delve into the recent Aluminum prints released from Bottleneck Gallery. Before we dig in, let me briefly mention what the Closer Look section is about. From time to time as new and exciting collectables and prints are released, we will dive a little deeper to examine what makes these items so interesting and feature some additional high-res photos. We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.
Why Print On Metal
Printing on metal is nothing new and Aluminum photo prints have been around for some time now. Back in 2012, I worked with a company that was producing these prints on Aluminum and they looked fantastic even back then. You might expect that a print on an Aluminum sheet would create a shiny print, but this is not the case. The printing process allows for deep colors and the metal provides nice contours in the artwork. Because of these desirable qualities, along with the Aluminum being super durable, many companies were offering this type of artwork before long.
Dye Sublimation on Aluminum
You might be wondering, “How is Aluminum artwork actually made? Are the inks deposited directly on the metal?”. Not quite. A different technique, called dye sublimation, is used. To simplify, sublimation is when a solid turns into a gas, without becoming a liquid in between. With this technique, inks are first printed on transfer paper, then placed on a heat press along with the substrate (paper, cloth, etc) to be sublimated.
The sublimation process results in a nearly permanent, high-res, full-color print as the dyes are bonded to the Aluminum on a molecular level and not printed on top as is the case with screen printing. When combined with the proper inks, these prints can last a very long time without fading or scratching.
Bottleneck specializes mainly in limited edition prints, but they do dabble in toys and collectables as well.Earlier this year, Bottleneck Gallery dropped new artwork for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The print was available in 3 versions, but it was the Aluminum Print that really caught our eye. I was immediately intrigued as I had not seen Aluminum prints before and thought they may be pretty unique. From what I could tell, this was BNG’s first foray into Aluminum prints, though they have released metal prints previously and pretty good one at that, Alien, by Laurent Durieux. For their upcoming releases Bottleneck printed the artwork on 2mm thick Aluminum panels. An ideal thickness as it has durability but is still somewhat light for hanging.
The first one that got the Aluminum treatment was Zack Snyder’s Justice League by Juan Ramos. This artwork was released in a standard and variant screen print. An Aluminum print was offered as well, with an edition of 150. I decided to purchase one, more interested in what the print was, instead of what it was of. The print was received and packaged very nicely. Upon first impression the ultra high quality is immediately noticeable. Just as the creation process states, the print’s color is vibrant and the inks are raised off the Aluminum, giving it a unique texture that will stand up well over time. It’s very impressive as you can see in the photos below.
The second print that was released in Aluminum form was from the blockbuster (and personal favorite), Jurassic Park by Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos. What a great scene from the film to turn into a poster. In addition to being released in Aluminum, this print was also offered as a 14 color regular and 17 color variant screen prints. It’s an awesome print and works well with the metal treatment. This one does not have nearly as much color as the Justice League version, but it still impresses with more subtle colors as you can notice in the photos. This was released in conjunction with Vice Press.
Overall I was really impressed with these prints, more so than initially expected. The high cost may be a bit of a deterrent, but that is justified in terms of quality, uniqueness and durability. Recently, BNG have released more of these prints and just dropped many different Aluminum prints during their Virtual Con event. The recent Thanos print looks utterly fantastic. Let us know your thoughts on these prints below. Do you like them or not? How did you hang it? Chime in.