Big update on our tactile art project

May 29th Our journey so far

Late last year, Redline Contemporary Art Center of Denver @RedLineDenver and the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art @warholfdn entrusted us with a daunting task – to bridge the gap between visual art and the visually impaired. Whether it be paint, photography, or sculpture, art is a powerful means of expression that transcends language and culture. Art is a gateway to emotions, thoughts, and ideas, making it a universal language. Yet, for the blind and visually impaired, this gateway has been historically locked because visual art inherently lacks accessibility, depriving those who lack vision the profound experiences that art can offer. Inspired by the history of our benefactor for our partnership, Andy Warhol, we set out to create a path toward accessibility in visual art and develop a method that can take an image and make it touchable.

Our inspiration

For many, the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Andy Warhol is his Campbell’s Soup can image, but there was so much more to his process when it came to art. Andy Warhol’s Factory was a groundbreaking studio where he redefined the concept of artistic production. In the 1960s, Warhol abandoned traditional painting and embraced modern image reproduction techniques such as silk screen printing, photography, cinema, and sound. The Factory became a hub for creativity, experimentation, and celebrity culture. Warhol’s fascination with mechanized art production led him to employ studio assistants, allowing him to increase the commercial productivity of his art. Through iconic works like his Campbell’s Soup Cans and appropriation of consumer culture imagery, Warhol left an indelible mark on the art world.

The traditional approach

Until recently, art geared toward those who are blind and visually impaired was primarily sculpture and tactile painting, where layers of paint are built up to create an embossed touchable piece. Advancements in tactile displays have come a long way, but many have around 2400 retractable pins giving the user a 60 by 40 array, which is great for braille and simple graphics, but lacks the tactile fidelity to reproduce fine art or landscape imagery. Early iterations of our tactile prints utilized a method of layering inkjet printer ink onto a metal plate creating a simple embossed effect. We wanted more and needed to take the accessibility of visual art to the next level – enter 3d printers.

 Creating our own factory

Andy Warhol was passionate about making art accessible to a wider audience. His approach challenged traditional notions of art and beauty. While in college completing a degree in Studio Art Photography, both my wife Carrie and I were drawn to the work of Mr. Warhol, and his democratic conviction that “art should be for everyone”, which drove his innovative approach to creativity. Our Landscapes of the Body collection is an abstract approach to visions of the human form, featuring models ranging in age from 19 to 76, with a variety of ethnicities, physical abilities, body types, and genders represented in its images. Our goal with the work is to show beauty in every body, not just those that fit the social or media driven definition of beauty. Accessibility was also a driving factor in the creation of this work. We started in 2014 with embossing, metal etching and printmaking, then moved to the tactile inkjet prints. With the advent of cheaper and more capable 3d printers, it was time to explore how these printers could take tactile art to the next level. With the support of Redline Contemporary Art Center of Denver and The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art, we purchased a 3d printer and threw our first print at it – and created… a mess.

The process

Any art medium takes time to learn. If you are painting for example, you need to learn how to mix paints and how to master the process of applying paint to canvas. 3d printing is no different. Learning to contend with temperature requirements for different filaments and acclimate ourselves to the intricacies of the printing process, we printed every gadget, cable holder and anime statue we could find. We learned early on that throwing an image into the program which translates data into the code that will tell the printer how to create the piece, called a slicer, yielded a result that was like static on a television screen.  The printed result was undefined, and lacking focus in the subject. We knew that starting from scratch was the only way to solve the problem. The only thing standing in our way was that I was the only one in the house who was proficient with Photoshop, and I am almost completely blind.  


In early January, Carrie and I sat down at my desk, and began what would end up being a two month, 14 plus hour a day journey into frustration to create something that had not been done before. Carrie ran the program – because accessibility in Photoshop is abysmal even with screen readers. I knew Photoshop inside and out from my years working in the videogames industry for Atari, Accolade and Mattel Toys, and I just had to talk her through the process. On April 1 (oh the irony of April Fool’s Day.), we completed our first successful print. Over the two-month period of developing the process, we created methods to extract the texture from a 2d image, and place that texture into distinct layers in the composition. Allowing us to effectively push and pull attributes of the image further up or down in the composition. We took the same approach to creating tactile prints as a fine art photographer does when manipulating parts of a photograph to lead the viewers eye through the piece.  

Finding our way

In the weeks since creating and refining the process to print these tactile prints, we have learned a lot about what kinds of images work best with tactile art. We have taken what we have learned and applied that to creating new work for our Landscapes of the Body project. We are approaching the creation of new work with an eye toward this accessible process, it feels great to have the development of “how” to make the tactile prints for this project behind us and we are well underway with the process of creating new work that will take full advantage of the process we have developed.  

Exhibiting the images

We are extremely excited to announce that this summer, there will be a few opportunities to see our work in person and feel it for yourself. We are taking a multisensorial approach to exhibiting this collection. At the showings, the traditionally framed prints, will be accompanied by the tactile (touchable) renditions of the pieces and a scannable tactile QR code will load a full audio description of the tactile piece onto any smartphone. The audio description will describe how the image looks, as well as walking the viewer through the tactile version of the image.

Where can you see it?

Landscapes of the Body: Beyond the Frame, A Multi-Sensory Experience of Abstract Photography will make its debut in Florida at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention over the fourth of July weekend.

July 3-7th National Federation of the Blind Convention:

Rosen Centre 9840 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819 

August 24th, the collection will make its Colorado debut and will be shown at the Shine Music Festival, an accessible music festival in Denver.

Shine Music Festival


October 25-27th Colorado National Federation of the Blind state convention (for more information)

NFB OF COLORADO STATE CONVENTION (more info coming soon)

More shows to be announced soon! If you would like to discuss showing the work at your establishment, please feel free to contact me at

An eye toward the future

In recent years, a quiet revolution has been taking place, one that seeks to dismantle barriers and make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their visual abilities. In most museums and galleries, accessible art exhibits are commonly by appointment only. We look forward to a future where art is accessible for every piece, rather than selected pieces only. This would mean accessible tactile prints accompanying every piece of exhibited art, making art enjoyable for everyone.  

Final thoughts

Having the opportunity to work with these two amazing organizations is a bit of a full circle moment for us on our art journey. We are extremely excited to share the results we have achieved thus far, and hope that this work can serve as a template for accessible art in the future. If you find yourself near one of the upcoming exhibitions, I invite you to come see the work and meet us.

The twins, an abstract view of the human form. In this image, two diagonal objects can be seen heading toward the upper right of the frame. In the middle of the left side of the frame is a rounded object that connects with the diagonal objects in the middle.