Artist Creates First ‘Coffee Print’ with Image of Seattle Space Needle

VERO BEACH, FL—April 2, 2014—Vero Beach artist Robert Ottesen has created the world’s first serigraph using a repeatable printing process and coffee-based ink. What began as a simple artistic statement led to several innovations that allowed an image of the Seattle Space Needle to be printed in a photo-realistic manner.

According to Ottesen, “I just wanted to make a simple artistic statement—by printing with coffee, I wanted to show its importance to our daily lives. I had no idea, when I started the project, how difficult it would be to create a photo-realistic image from coffee pigment alone.”

The print is already attracting attention from experts in the field.

“This is amazing. Rob has pushed the envelope and developed a new and creative print-making technique,” said Frank Romano, RIT Professor Emeritus and President of the Museum of Printing.

In order to print with coffee, Ottesen needed a coffee-based ink. So he turned to Bob Peterson, a consultant with over 30 years of experience in the ink business. Peterson, after numerous attempts, was finally able to get coffee to mix with a special blend of printing oils.

Peterson commented, “When Ottesen approached me and explained that he wanted to make an ink from coffee, I told him that it couldn’t be done. However, after listening to what he had planned to use the ink for, I decided to take on the challenge. Creating an ink from coffee grounds has never been attempted, to the best of my knowledge. It was extremely difficult to identify an ink varnish that would allow the coffee grounds to blend with the varnish. Additionally, the time and mechanical force required to blend the coffee with the varnish was 10 times more than that of a regular ink. The process definitely required “thinking outside the box!”

Interested parties will soon be able to view a copy of this historic print at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA.

About Robert Ottesen

Robert Ottesen is an artist living in Vero Beach, FL. In addition to printing with coffee he has created and lectured on such new techniques as “kinetic pointillism” and is working on creating a school for that style of painting. He also plans to print more images with coffee-based ink.

Source: Robert Ottesen.

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  • Hank Briody

    Printing with coffee…? That is, coffee-based inks. Mr. Rapaport of Rapaport Printing was known to have "thrown in a cup of joe" into the inkwell on his specialty-based inks for STONE-TONE lithography…perhaps to "wake-up" the image up?

  • Paul Gardner

    "Creating an ink from coffee grounds has never been attempted, to the best of my knowledge."

    Come on man… before claiming you’ve done something that’s Never been done before, you should do at least a rudimentary survey of the field.

    Had Mr. Peterson done this, he would have found this:

    And this, both from 2009:

    And this from 2010:

  • Paul Gardner

    ps – Mr. Petersen… sorry, I meant no offense.
    Your accomplishment is truly remarkable! And the nature of the ink you created is indeed a first! Unique!
    Just couldn’t resist poking at the claim of "never been done…" which always tends to get fire up my skeptical nature.