To make his astounding prints, artist Joseph Scheer captures incredibly detailed images of moths with a scanner originally designed for film and transparencies. The tiny micro moths are as small as .25 inch and the giant Silkmoths have wings spans up to 5 inches. Using a special scanner that has a programmable focus for different depths of field, he scans each specimen between 7 and 40 times using different points of focus. Then he painstakingly reassembles them choosing only parts from the files that are in focus. The scanner records so much information—67 million data points per square inch—that a single specimen may take a full day to scan. The data files generated are huge: some of his many layered images are up to 10 Gigabytes before processing. With resolution that high, scans can be enlarged 2,700 percent and still be perfectly clear. Moths that in life rest comfortably on a fingertip dramatically occupy 32 x 44 inches (86 x 116 cm) archival art papers. Only by looking at the moth through microscope could you see the tiny scales on body and wings as clearly as they’re revealed in Scheer’s prints. At every step from scanner to monitor to printer, the artist keeps the actual specimen in front of him, constantly comparing his digital representations to nature’s original. “Every moth requires hours of work,” he says. “Color correcting the scan, adjusting the printer so the final image truly matches the moth. It has to be perfect.”


Joseph Scheer is a Distinguished Professor of Print Media, and Director/Co-Founder of the Institute for Electronic Arts at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University.

Joseph Scheer is a Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Print Media, and Co-Director/Founder of the Institute for Electronic Arts at the School of Art and Design, Alfred University, New York and the Dongshi Scholar Chair, Professor at Northeast China Normal University in Changchun China. He has recently been elected Vice President of the International Academic Printmaking Alliance (IAPA) whose headquarters are in Beijing China and is a Deputy Dean of the International Printmaking Institute of the newly formed International Printmaking Institute at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing China. He has served as a panelist for the Fulbright Scholar Program for Mexico and Central America 2015 - 2017. He has also been a panelist for the NYFA print and drawing grants. He is a member of International Education Steering Committee at Northeast Normal University, Changchun China and a member of the China International Design Educator Association (C- IDEA). He received an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1987.