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Chris Pennings · JCP Studios

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16th June, 2014
Lucy Feagins
Monday 16th June 2014

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Chris Pennings, Melbourne designer and director of  fine art print studio JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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Some of Chris' own illustration prints, on display at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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Chris Pennings carefully prints one of his large scale illustrations at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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Picture frames under construction at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

The old 'day job' vs 'dream job' challenge is one most young creatives seem faced with at some point in their careers. It seems that for many of us, the general goal in life is to try and turn your dream job into something that pays all your bills (in effect, so it becomes your day job), or, at the very least, hatch plan in which the two can happily co-exist.

Melbourne's Chris Pennings seems to have totally nailed this age old conundrum.  After studying fine art printmaking and graphic design, and spending the obligatory few years travelling and working in hospitality, Chris eventually took a job at a framing company, Fini Frames, in Melbourne in 2001.  'I kind of just walked in off the street and asked for a job' he says.  At the time Chris certainly didn't expect that Fini would eventually become his own business, incorporating a specialist printing service for artists and photographers, and eventually also encouraging the development of his own art practice.  However, that's exactly how thing panned out.

In 2004, Chris set up a fine art print studio which operated as part of Fini, then when the original owner of the company, John Pandolfini, decided to retire in 2009, Chris and his brother bought the business.

Fini Frames was originally established in 1985, and is still a much respected framing company which continues to make frames for a galleries including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, State and National Libraries and many more regional galleries, universities and museums.  The company also works regularly with conservationists, and has worked on many amazing exhibitions including Robert Motherwell, Roy Lichtenstein, Toulouse Lautrec and an upcoming Chuck Close exhibition at the MCA in Sydney.  All the staff at Fini Frames are are practising artists or photographers themselves, which Chris considers to be an integral part of the service they provide.

But aside from all this, Chris' real passion is JCP Studios, the printing arm of the business, which he originally set up in 2004. 'The original idea was to provide a print studio that complimented the framing and mounting services we also provided' explains Chris. 'We wanted to offer a space for artists and photographers to be able to come in and work one on one through the entire scanning/printing/mounting/framing process.  Essentially an artist can walk in with a USB stick, and walk out with a finished framed exhibition or even have the exhibition here'.  The business moved from Prahran to a larger site in Cremorne in 2012,which incorporates an impressive gallery / showroom space (they have some amazing art shows there, check out their website for details!).

As managing director of JCP Studios, Chris is an experienced printer who works with a wide range of art papers and photographic stocks, printing everything from artworks and limited edition prints to family portraits.  He's also a passionate creative in his own right, who enjoys taking photographs as well as creating his own graphic illustrations which he then prints and frames at the studio.

'With regards to my personal work, I just really enjoy taking pictures and making prints, my own practice is an extension of the business, but it's also something I just take a great amount of satisfaction from' he says. 'I've spent a solid 10 years working with artists and photographers helping them make their works, I love doing that and I think it has helped my own practice immensely, so it's now nice to be in a position where I can spend a bit more time creating for myself too.'

We love the fluid, organic shapes and muted palette of Chris' illustration prints, which are available for sale online here.  The pieces pictured above are printed in editions of 20 at 325 x 325 mm, and the finished framed price is $275.00.

Chris says he's looking forward to being able to spend more time expanding his series of illustration prints, and would love to work on a range of ceramics and potentially textiles.  Oh HELLO that sounds pretty awesome, I can totally see these translate into textiles and interiors... watch this space!

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Details from the Cremorne showroom of JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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The framing workshop at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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Chris Pennings at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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Framed prints waiting for collection at JCP Studios.  Photo - Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

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