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Making memories

Collage portraits sprout from longtime graphic design firm

May 29, 2012

A 110-year-old farmhouse is bound to be full of memories, but Bob and Dan Zarwell have taken that to a whole other level with their new Memories in Print gallery.

The shop and gallery showcase the personalized memory portraits that father and son create from family photos and collectibles. It's a new creative outlet for Pen Station, the graphic design firm Bob Zarwell started 30 years ago in the farmhouse at 11661 W. Bluemound Road.

It's also been a trip down memory lane for Dan Zarwell, who grew up in the shop during its heyday in the mid-1990s, when about 15 artists and designers were needed to keep up with demand for banners, stand-up displays and other projects.

"That was before computers, so it was a lot of people sitting at drawing boards with markers and pens doing it old school," Zarwell said. "I used to come here as a kid in the summers and watch those guys do their thing."

Computers streamlined the work so much that today only four people work for the company.

"We do more, and we do it faster," Zarwell said.

That includes Memories in Print, a collage-inspired collection of images artists assemble to represent not only the people and places they depict, but also the spirit of the memories and sentiments in those pictures.

It's an idea Bob Zarwell first envisioned about 15 years ago.

Back then, Zarwell said, the process was more cumbersome and expensive - customers shipped photos, then artists scanned and clipped them before sending the new work to a framer, who shipped a heavy final product back to the customer.

"It just wasn't practical," Zarwell said.

Today, customers send images digitally and the pieces are mounted and glazed, which cuts down the weight and shipping costs.

"We've been doing them for people's old cars, people's new cars or for pets or for babies or people returning from Iraq," said Zarwell, who helped relaunch Memories in Print about six months ago.

Several pieces are on display in the gallery and shop at the farmhouse.

"It's definitely cool to see people taking their photos and, instead of stuffing them in a Facebook album where they'll never look at them again, they're doing something with them," Zarwell said.

If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to news@cninow.com or call (262) 446-6643.

JUST THE FACTS

BUSINESS: Pen Station and Memories in Print gallery

ADDRESS: 11661 W. Bluemound Road

WEB: www.facebook.com/mipcollage

PHONE: (414) 771-3181

OWNERS: Bob and Dan Zarwell

INCORPORATED: 1982

TYPE OF BUSINESS: graphic design and art

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "It's definitely cool to see people taking their photos and, instead of stuffing them in a Facebook album where they'll never look at them again, they're doing something with them."

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