While wandering down Brunswick Street, Fitzroy I stumbled across probably one of the most creative things I’ve found in a long time.  I say stumbled because I literally fell through the door in a bid to escape the traffic-laden street with its cold biting wind and promise of rain into a warm, creative workshop full of wood, stone and photography.

There I found several workbenches filled with projects in various stages of completion, all displaying different styles of art and photography.

What I’m enthusiastically banging on about are these wooden frames which surround what (at first) appeared to be plaster of paris type panel.  On this surface various art and photos had been printed creating an amazing “old meets new” effect.  I fell in love, it was instant.

Tony Knoll – the dude responsible for this explained to me that this new art medium is actually reconstituted limestone.  The limestone panels are framed with recycled timbers and the back of the panel is packed with styrofoam that once housed broccol – all materials which would normally be headed for landfill.

Even his business “cards” are recycled!

Tony told me that one of the local Councils had even got on board with him and, instead of sending their styrofoam to landfill, they deliver it directly to him where it then ends up on someone’s wall (either locally or overseas) as art!  Seriously, is that cool or what?  Most forward thinking of both parties.

Tony’s creation is Panelpop, which is really apt – the panels truly do make your work “POP”!

The best part is the simplicity of the process.  You simply upload your photo on the website, pick your panel size and then “bingo” – Tony prints it directly onto the smooth stone surface using new generation, UV-cured ink.  This process means the image is scratch and weather resistant which eliminates the need for glass to protect it.

As you can tell, I was pretty impressed.  Tony then shared with me his new process he was about to launch – he said I could be the first to tell the world and try it out!

It’s SMS.

Yep.  I’m serious!

All you have to do is SMS your photo to Tony and he will print it.  He reckons the process can be done in 10 minutes – from sms to printed product!  He will tell people one hour though, to cover himself in busy periods.

And resolution is no longer an issue.  Essentially, if you can instagram it – you can print it!

BOOM!  The love intensified!  I was so taken with it I decided to test him at his word and promptly took myself off to the nearest cafe and ordered lunch.  While I was waiting for my homestyle tomato soup I sms’d a photo from my iPhone (which you may recall from my road trip earlier in the year).

One hour later I returned to Panelpop HQ and got this!

Totally cool right?  And you heard it here first!

Go on, give it a try for yourself* and tell Tony I sent you!  I’d love to hear how you fared, so let me know about your experience in the comments below.

Oh, and for the record, this is not a sponsored post.  I truly did just fall, madly, head-over-heels, in love!  I now have entire art projects building in my head for use on this medium – I just gotta save some more cashola to produce them!

If you don’t believe me, you can read more cool stuff about Tony and his team’s Panelpop here, here and here!

* It might pay to check with Tony via his website to sort out delivery options, opening hours etc.

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