Williamsburg is focusing its innovative lens on a new art form – printing pictures on wood.
Your memories no longer need to be relegated to film, and that’s thanks to the artistic genius of Dan Visel.
PixiWood, as his company is titled, allows people to have their photographs printed on American Birch.
“A year ago I didn’t even think this was a business,” said Visel, who officially launched last summer. “But then I started experimenting with several surfaces like metal and cardboard but wood grain was the one that came through. My friends started asking about it, and a lot of what I do is word of mouth, so it sort of took off from there.”
Visel is originally from Michigan, and moved to Williamsburg for a job. He has more than 20 years of experience in the printing business and the arts. But the idea for PixiWood came from a more practical reality.
Visel’s picture frames were destroyed during his move to the neighborhood, and not wanting to spend money on frames, he began experimenting with different materials ultimately settling on wood.
He tested his work out at local markets. It was an instant hit.
Then there was the question of turning it into a business.
Visel got in touch with his childhood friend, J.D. Fiscus, a web designer, to put together a website for the new business.
Customers can submit pictures online in various formats, and select a variety of sizes for their finished products that range anywhere between $55 and $250.
Visel uses a three-step process to create his pieces. The wood is sanded and treated, and then the environmentally friendly ink is placed on the surface, where it becomes a photograph just like any other – only more rustic and sophisticated to look at.
“The biggest obstacle has been getting my name out there and getting the product out to people,” said Visel. “I’ve got a really cool product and when people see it they really love it.”
And Visel’s influence is rapidly spreading across the States – including a regular customer based in Hawaii.
But he has no plans for expansion just yet. At present he just wants to focus on the work at hand and continue to innovate. His work orders have increased significantly since he launched his website, and Visel wants to build on that momentum.
He said his work fits in perfectly with the entrepreneurial spirit of the neighborhood. He’s encouraged by the largely young demographic of the neighborhood, who are always excited to try new things.
Visel holds a full-time job apart from running PixiWood, but the success of the business will allow him to pursue his passion full-time come September.
“Technology is changing the way we do everything,” he said. “I want to continue to do more custom made work and collaborate with artists and photographers in the neighborhood.”