Digital print research at UWE gets major boost from HP

Issue date: 03 December 2009

Digital print research World leading technology company Hewlett Packard has renewed its commitment to research at the University of the West of England by appointing Stephen Hoskins as Hewlett Packard Professor of Fine Print for a second five year term.

Professor Stephen Hoskins is Director of UWE's Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) and was first awarded the HP Chair of Fine Print in 2003. The CFPR develops digital print research at the cutting edge of technology and has an international reputation for the quality of its research. This high-profile position is a direct result of the impact Professor Hoskins and his team have had through collaborations with HP relating to both technical and artistic issues. The work is carried out globally, working mostly with HP printing divisions in Barcelona, Spain, San Diego in the USA and the internationally-renowned HP Labs in Bristol.

During the last ten years, the CFPR has collaborated with HP Research Labs in Bristol, San Diego and Barcelona on a wide range of research projects. Alongside high-profile names such as the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery in London and The Louvre in Paris, the Centre for Fine Print Research was possibly a surprise entrant for Hewlett-Packard's Arts and Science Philanthropy Programme in 2000.

Huw Robson, Director of the Media Technologies Lab at HP Labs in Bristol, said, “We began the project looking to support and inspire pioneering centres of excellence in arts and science and we had previously been aware of the unique work undertaken at CFPR but it wasn't until the Arts and Science Philanthropy Programme was underway that we realised just how this could potentially have a positive benefit for us as a company.

“The CFPR brought a wonderful mix of skills to the programme – a deep understanding of traditional print-making techniques together with a passion for pushing digital printing technology to produce extraordinary results. The other groups we were working with were mostly concerned with the more immediate challenge of very accurate reproduction of classic paintings. The CFPR uniquely complemented this with their deep understanding of the creative process itself and the subtle but important interaction and 'visual feel' of inks on paper, or what Steve refers to as the 'tactility' of a final print.

“This includes practical and theoretical studies of high quality 19th Century printing processes such as Woodburytype, Collotype, photo ceramic relief casting and photogravure.”

The National Gallery, HP, CFPR and other centres of excellence devised and ran a masterclass in digital image reproduction and creative printing for a select group of European institutions keen to learn the techniques possible with the latest digital cameras, computer processing and printing equipment. This project not only created a prestigious partnership but also a real change in direction for HP as they developed versions of large-format inkjet printers for the demanding creative print market.

Since this initial contact CFPR have undertaken a wide range of projects with HP including research concerned with product development and colour. Stephen Hoskins' second term as chair will continue until 2014. Both the CFPR and HP are enthusiastic about the prospect of future collaboration for the next five years.

Stephen said, "I am delighted to have this new funding, and to have HP behind us. It's great to have their commitment to our ongoing research work and we already have plans for future projects. This is a very exciting area to be working in, and the interface between the world of artists and cutting edge technology will have long term effects on how both these areas develop in the future."

Wayne Davies from HP Labs Strategy & Innovation Office, explained, "HP's Imaging and Printing group will focus on growing commercial and industrial printing business, including print finishing and packaging. At the same time research will continue on a number of speculative strands including 3D printing. The CFPR have shown considerable foresight in investing in these areas and we will continue collaboration."

The CFPR's plans for future research include rapid prototyped 3D printing, in collaboration with HP labs in Palo Alto, USA. Professor Hoskins is one of only a handful of people allowed exclusive access to HP's San Diego facility, where the most top-secret of all HP products and ideas are developed. Dr Gary Dispoto, Director of the Print Production Automation Lab in Palo Alto will be the CFPR HP mentor for the next five years. The HP Chair of Fine Print is funded by the company's sponsorship of UWE's Centre.

During Stephen's ten years as Director of the CFPR, the Centre has also received over 20 Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grants. Stephen has been personally awarded eight AHRC grants, and has supervised four successful Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). He is a practicing artist, has written two books and holds two patents.

Editor's notes

• Professor Stephen Hoskins MA RCA is a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers and a member of the Royal West of England Acacdemy. His work appears in collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Gallery and in many corporate collections worldwide. He is a member of the editorial board of Printmaking Today and is an educational advisor on the board of the Association of European Printing Museums. He is co-organiser of the bi-annual IMPACT series of international printmaking conferences, the most recent of which took place in Bristol in September 2009. He has written two books including 'Ink', published by A and C Black and 'Water Based Screenprinting,' which has been translated into German and Chinese.

• For more information on UWE's Centre for Fine Print Research visit

• For more information on HP research visit

• Web links to previous news stories:;;;;

Back to top