Digital Printing On Alternative Surfaces: A Self-Publishing Adventure

KAWhite_Book Cover 1 I recently published the book Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: the definitive source.

Writing a book can be a daunting endeavor, but for me the process, though challenging, was also inspiring in every way.

My job was not to write the next great novel. It was to share, in detail, my process of digitally printing on alternative surfaces.

Alternative surfaces are those  uncommon to the mainstream digital printing process, such as various fabric weaves and textures, metal, recyclables, constructed surfaces, etc.

Few artists understand the wide range of surfaces that an inkjet printer can be coaxed to print on. I’ve printed on thousands of alternative surfaces in my own studio. All kinds of constructed and original surfaces were tested and created.

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This book spells out the basics, as well as more advanced techniques, for creating unexpected printed surfaces.

KAWhite_digital print on a crinkled canvas surface 5This book will assist artists, designers and other makers to create and use innovative surfaces that enhance mixed media work. My finished work is not about the finished print. It’s about creating artwork inspired by my created surfaces and images.

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Since I have been teaching workshops and writing about this process for many years, questions come to me from all over the world. Sometimes there is no clear way to  answer a question, since it may hinge on other factors in the process. Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: the definitive source is written to be the go-to reference guide where readers can learn about all kinds and phases of printing surfaces. The comprehensive information allows creators to make intelligent decisions when experimenting with their individual alternative surfaces. The solid groundwork for endless experimentation is within these pages.

KAWhite_digital print on cheesecloth skin 10My main goal was to offer up-to-the-minute information about my process. This forced me to make changes, like the repositioning of an entire chapter, several times as I discovered a new technique while working. We never hesitated to take time to rework a finished chapter. For example, one new technique that appears in the book was introduced in my workshop at the recent SDA interface Conference. A participant called it “brilliant”; it’s an idea that really eliminates creative angst. It sprang from a simple “what if” that popped into my head – and then worked wonders. The creative space of writing is fertile ground for inspiration and intuitive problem-solving.

The journey through publishing a book is definitely interesting. My 4 Kindle and Nook published e-books didn’t prepare me for this project. (Editor’s Note: You can browse and purchase these e-books via SDA’s Amazon link that gives a percentage of your purchases back to support SDA – at no cost to you. Search “kathyanne white” to access her store.)

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Many wonderful experiences evolved from the decision to write my book. 3 publishers declined my idea, so I decided to self-publish. I got to work with my favorite graphic designer. I added my intern/assistant to the team and it was a “go”. Then, just as the fun began, several sample readers and a copy editor were recruited. By June 2012, the whole team was assembled. The book was published by end of May 2013.

KAWhite_amate bark print 4There are many demands when putting a self-published book together. I was responsible for overseeing everything. Although others on my team performed certain tasks, it was ultimately my job to make sure everything was right. Since the visuals are crucial in a book like this, all the images/surfaces had to be created and printed. Photographing and preparing the images for print was part of my assignment; there are over 260 images in the book. With great relief, as I paged through the first test print, I saw that the image quality was fabulous!

Would I do it again?

Probably not on the same scale as this current book. Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: the definitive source is the parent. Next comes a series of single subject print and e-books that will be published on Blurb, Kindle, Nook and ibooks. Those books won’t start at the beginning of the process, they’ll delve into each subject/surface. Obviously alternative surface printing is infinite and sparks lots of content for written and video workshops.

Here’s a teaser; printing on felt yields amazing results!          

You can access my YouTube channel at It features old and new videos on this process. I am working on videos for the upcoming e-book version.

KAWhite_Forest Surfaces 21 6Anyone who purchases my book will have access to those videos; the information about them is in the print book.

Digital Printing Alternative Surfaces: the definitive source is available for purchase on

Visit my website for all related projects at

Fell free to comment here (below) or email me at with questions anytime. I am happy to answer any and all questions.

KAWhite headshot 11KathyAnne White‘s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States and abroad. Her work is in the collections of Museum of Arts and Design, American Folk Art Museum, Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution and Phoenix Airport Museum.

White is the recipient of an Artists Project Grant and a Professional Development Grant from Arizona Commission on the Arts. She is also recipient of an artist residency in Yosemite National Park in Northern California.

White’s workshops focus on innovative strategies for digital printing alternative surfaces. She inspires participants to create quality digital prints on alternative surfaces for incorporation into their work. Through her KathyAnne Art and Digital Alternative Surfaces websites, White creates workshops and tutorials so that others may learn and expand their knowledge of techniques through this process.

Visit her website at
Check out her blog at
Follow her Facebook page at

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