Perhaps you have met with several accountants to find the right one for your needs, or you have had to change dentists several times because your expectations were not met. Either way, you know that a poor choice in a trusted professional can lead to later regret. When it comes to choosing a fine art giclee printmaker, the stakes are just as high.
While there are numerous ways to reproduce fine art today, the giclee process is widely accepted. However, the quality of giclee printmaking varies as much as the art itself. Therein lies the challenge: How to make the right choice of fine art giclee printmakers? How do you know you are getting museum quality giclee prints at competitive pricing? It starts with determining the experience of the printmaker and establishing a level of trust before handing over your art.
First and foremost, the atelier you choose should handle the digitizing of your art in-house, offering specific expertise in techniques for lighting and capturing your original art properly. The accuracy of the process to digitize your art will determine 90% of the quality achieved in the final print. I doubt anyone in this industry would challenge the axiom that a superior capture will make a better reproduction on a low-end printer than an inferior capture can make on a high-end printer. As a result, for a printmaker not to handle this most essential step in-house is a red flag. Similarly, do not think that you can photograph the art yourself. This is the single biggest pitfall in replicating original art, as lack of image sharpness, inaccurate color, and loss of detail inevitably lead to failure in giclee printmaking.
Once you have established that you are dealing with a printmaker who will capture your art in-house, the next step is to ask the right questions to qualify the atelier’s claims to offer high quality giclee printmaking. What method do they employ to capture the artwork? Scanning Back cameras made by Betterlight and PhaseOne, as well as Cruse scanners, are the industry standard in their ability to capture art accurately. So, if you hear those terms, you are probably on the right track.
With regard to the megapixel issue, the more, the better. Scanning Back cameras have the ability to capture over 300 megapixels in a single shot!!! Quality work can be achieved with less on smaller works of art, but why not make the investment in a preservation-grade digital capture to ensure that the DNA of your art is retained in the digital image?
Next, ask about proofing policies. Make sure you have the final say on proofing and accept nothing less than a near perfect replication of the color, sharpness, texture and nuance detail of the original. It is imperative that you are able to view the proof with your original art in order to achieve a gallery acceptable print.
The next step is to ascertain the ink and media choices the printmaker offers, as these determine image permanence. You need to ensure that your prints will not shift or fade in color over time. (Ratings are published by independent experts like Henry Wilhelm.) In order to meet the high standards of the fine art market, make sure your printmaker can declare that they are utilizing industry-tested archival media and pigmented inks.
Please stop by next week as we discuss Part II in our series, “Choosing the Right Fine Art Giclee Printmaker.” In the meantime, below are the Top Ten Warning Signs of an Inferior Giclee Print.
Top Ten Warning Signs of an Inferior Giclee Print
· Blurred or soft image focus.
· Poor image delineation or sharpness.
· Overexposed highlight detail or underexposed shadow detail.
· Pixel artifacts; poor scan quality, pixel noise.
· “Halo” outlines or improper/excessive image sharpening.
· Poor color rendition or “fake” looking colors, flat or lifeless colors.
· Printer malfunctions; banding, streaking or other misprint patterns.
· No texture, detail, or nuance in the print.
· Lack of UV coating on canvas prints.
· Color cast, poor gray balance or odd tint