Laser Light Bill Nordsrom


An Unsung Master of Media Fine Arts

I took Rene’s painting to the fine art reproduction studio. There was a lovely man there, the master color artist Bill Nordstrom, who has during his fifty years as a colorist learned the art of photographic and then digital color separations. He so loves the art of color reproduction, he invested just a few years ago in the same hi-resolution table scanner as used by the Smithsonian and the Getty Museum.

Bill is looking his years, I’m guessing about 72. He told me that his wife was 50 when they began their 42 years of marital bliss. She robbed the cradle, and he was only 30 at the time. But he says he knew he could weather the years of being alone after this blessing better than she could have, so it was really okay.

The art of color reproduction is one of those unsung hero kind of arts. Painters make love with their colors, and photographers build their lives around the golden hour to capture the perfect light. But colorists are lab techs. They practice the light arts of enticing a laser camera to interpret a work of art with shade and nuance and texture that will make it a duplicate work of art. And in this world of Less is More, and Scarcity as the source of Value, the art of Duplication is hardly considered an art form.

Yet, in Santa Cruz, home of so many thousands of artists, all of whom make their living via personal fortune, commissions, or selling prints and cards of their best works, the grand old color master makes a decent living, preserving the colors as best he can.

He has crossed many digital frontiers over the last 50 years. His first job was in a color lab in the 50s, where he had to learn a sequential chemical procedure of 21 steps in developing each of the 3-12 color plates in a Kodacolor film to print process. This science was and is a great foundation for understanding the current digital process, aptly named by the master, Laser Light.