Art galleries have become a very popular place to visit over the past few years. With the stress of day-to-day life becoming tougher and tougher to deal with, and the money for vacations becoming harder and harder to come by, the escapism of visiting an art gallery seems to having a calming effect. Many times, in an attempt to capture that serenity, visitors to the gallery will purchase a fine-art print to hang in their home or office. Sometimes, they can walk out of the store with the print, other times, it must be ordered. Either way, they are probably not walking out with the original. They are purchasing an incredibly detailed print made by a print shop that works with the artist and/or gallery.
Creating a fine-art print is truly an art in and of itself. There is much more to it than scanning in a document and hitting “print.” There are many steps involved, and if you have problems with one of the steps, the whole process can be thrown off.
“First you need to capture the image, then color match it, print it, trim it, and package it,” said Andy Wood, CEO, Squirt Printing, Sunnyvale, CA. “The canvas print needs to be coded, it needs to be stretched, or maybe you need to coordinate framing, or even help the artist drop ship. You need to view it as a whole system. You can make a beautiful print on Hahnemühle paper, but if it isn’t packaged well when it leaves, that’s all for nothing.”
Fine-art prints can be made from photographs and/or paintings and each has its own challenges. “Regarding the process: It’s sort of a different beast, whether you deal with physical art like a painting, or a digital file that’s either a digital painting, or photographic work,” said Wood. “Each of those has it’s own twist to it. The process needs are kind of different for each of them.”
“Every photographer has their own vision as to what they want,” explained Andy Wollmann, president, Century Editions, Scottsdale, AZ. “Some want muted tones, others want to wow a client with high saturation and dynamic range.”
Many photographers manipulate the files themselves and simply submit work for printing, so Wollmann needs to ask if a client wants to print the file as is or if final adjustments need to be made to enhance sharpness and or dynamic range. “Until we get a feel for what they want their art to be, we produce proof files,” he said. “As we become familiar with a photographers work they generally trust us to fulfill their vision.”
“All artists (and I consider photographers to be artists) want to be treated with respect and want to able to communicate their artistic concerns to make sure that the printmaker interprets correctly for them,” added Al Marco, owner, Marco Fine Arts Inc., El Segundo, CA. “The worst thing that can happen to an artist is that they get frustrated and can’t get their visions across to the printmaker.”
Loupe Digital Studio works one on one with each photographer to accurately reproduce each individual photographic style and mood. “We start off speaking with each photographer about the intended vision,” reported Michael Tolani, co-owner, Loupe Digital Studio, New York, NY. “Next is a round of test prints and only after we jointly reach the photographers vision do we print the final image.”
Tolani said photographers are most concerned with the image archival rating, paper type and the image color, contrast and density. “Our archival inks and fine-art papers have a rating of more than 100 years and we stock many different papers including glossy and matte photographic as well as multiple fiber-based textured fine-art papers,” he said.
Wollmann added that the most common concerns he hears from photographers are the media types that are available, the longevity of the media set (the substrate, ink and coating combination), and the dMax (maximum density of the printing) of the process. “When dMax values are high, images really pop and that translates into sales for photographers,” he said. “This is especially true for black-and-white prints.”