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Fine art & photography and fabric/textile printing are probably two of my favorite subjects. The creativity and artistry in these areas has tremendous potential and when you add in digital wide-format equipment it just makes it 10 times better. But are these niches worth the challenges of dealing with sometimes temperamental and hyper-critical clients?

According to a recent InfoTrends study, the global textile industry is worth approximately $1 trillion. Of that, InfoTrends estimates that the value of digitally printed textile garments, décor items, and industrial products is valued at $10.3 billion in 2012, or less than 1.5 percent of the total market. That may seem like a very small number, but there is good news. The analog to digital transformation that started in the commercial print side of the market hasn’t made its way into this market—yet. And InfoTrends estimates that revenues from digital textile equipment and ink sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.7 percent.

On the fine art and photography side of things, the market is a little different. In some cases, because the cost of wide-format printers have come down dramatically, fine artists and photographers have purchased their own equipment, keeping all of the printing in-house. Others, however, use the equipment to create limited-run prints in-house before moving the larger volume of prints to a partner PSP.

Both markets, however, provide the opportunity for PSPs to work their creative muscles, building unique and intricate graphics and projects that offer a much higher value to their customers. Fabrics bring a different type of emotion and perceived value than vinyl or banner materials—which PSPs can use to receive a higher price for these types of graphics.

Production wide-format printing is a lot different than custom, high-value fabric and fine art pieces. Do you have the staff in place to work seamlessly with customers who can be much more demanding about color consistency, image quality, and precise and impeccable finishing? Do your printer operators have the skills to work with fabric projects that aren’t as straight-forward as what they are used to?

With the right staff and equipment, you could be set up to offer a truly unique and high-value service to the right customers. And if you get it right, increased revenues could be on the horizon.

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