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Culture Couch is WYSO's occasional series exploring the arts and culture scene in our community. It’s stories about creativity – told through creative audio storytelling.

Itinerant Studio: A Big Gem in a Small City

Dan Gummel
The staff of Itinerant Studio holding "Dusk" taken in Colorado on birch 4x6. A exclusive collection for Mitchell Gold Bob Williams.

Husband and wife team Tom Heaphey and Vicki Rulli own Itinerant Studio.  A production art company based out of a former dry goods warehouse in downtown Springfield Ohio just down the road from the Clark County Public Library on West Jefferson Street.  Itinerant Studio occupies a unique niche in the art world  creating large print photography on materials like wood, metal and plexiglass and selling to clients all around the world.   Community Voices producer Dan Gummel stopped by to hear the story.

Tom Heaphey met his future wife and business partner Vicki Rulli in 1997 when they were both working for the City of Columbus in the Office of International Business.  They quickly discovered they had more in common than just work.  They shared a love of photography and aviation and began dating after two years of working together.

“Yeah I just sort of took a risk one day and kissed her,” says Tom as Vicki laughs in the background “and it worked!”

Tom and Vicki holding "Trains" on 2x3 transparent acrylic shot at the Columbus train museum
Credit Dan Gummel
Tom and Vicki holding "Trains" on 2x3 transparent acrylic shot at the Columbus train museum

While in Columbus, they started their own business as professional photographers and were hired for weddings, bar mitzvahs and gallery shows.  

One day in Miami, Tom had an idea.  “I remember seeing some OSB board down in Miami and thinking it was cool looking and thinking if we could print something on wood and Vicki looked into it and we did a few test prints and it looked cool.”

They took their innovative wood prints to an interior design trade show in New York City and made a big splash.  “We had the tiniest booth in the whole place” Vicki says “and we won best of show for all the artists from the New York Society of Interior Designers.”

They began getting larger clients like luxury furniture manufacturer Mitchell Gold Bob Williams and made the decision to buy and renovate an old warehouse in downtown Springfield.  

“We just felt Springfield was the right place,” says Vicki, “ so we moved here.”

Inside one of the rooms of the warehouse is a large UV flatbed printer made by FujiFilm that resembles a giant air hockey table.  Wood is laid on top of the printer and then locked into place with tiny suction pores on the surface of the printer.

“We order all our wood directly from the mill, Columbia Wood Products” says Vicki, “the wood is sustainably harvested Grade A cabinet birch wood.”

They have big plans for the future and hope to expand their offerings as they renovate their building. To learn more about Itinerant Studio and see examples of their work visit www.itinerantstudio.com

"Pisa" on fresco. By Tom and Vicki.
"Pisa" on fresco. By Tom and Vicki.