Four companies prove the profits of fine-art printing.
Gallery Street builds its ICC profiles in-house on a regular basis. “We have to make sure every printer/media combination is constantly calibrated and profiled at all times,” he says. “Media lots and ink lots change from each batch, and those subtle differences require meticulous scanning with spectrophotometers to pick up on variances that may affect final output color.”
The shop only prints using aqueous-based pigment inks and offers canvas and fine-art papers that are 100-percent cotton rag with smooth, textured, and velvet finishes, says Leftoff. The printers used at Gallery Street are a Canon ImageProGraf iPF9400, iPF8400, and iPF8300, as well as an Epson Stylus Pro 9890 and a Roland FJ600.
Liquid varnish coating is done by hand, not via machine, and canvas stretching is done using wooden bars sourced only from “properly managed forests,” says Leftoff. “We offer standard depth stretcher bars as well as deep gallery wrap bars for ‘ready to hang’ prints.”
Gallery Street, made up of five employees, prints for high-end artists who are gallery owners or have artwork sold in galleries all over the US on a daily basis. “We have built an amazing online ordering system that allows for easy file upload and repeat ordering,” says Leftoff. “Our goal is to make it very easy for a client to order what they need with online accurate quotes, instant order confirmation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Gallery Street also produces giclée prints for independent artists, both professional and amateur, as well as works with schools and organizations that “might need basic art reproduction for kid’s art, archives, and even ancient documents or relics,” he says.
“We work directly with our artists and always strive to reproduce their work with the most accurate color reproduction possible. As the printers and inks get better, so do we. There shouldn’t be a question of whether or not a giclée matches the artist’s original artwork, so we take pride in the fact that our clients are very happy with our color reproduction,” he says. “Once we match a client’s original color, we lock it in. As long as our printers are calibrated and profiled properly, we can assure our clients they will always get consistent color and quality.”
Leftoff says it’s not that difficult in getting artists to be involved in his shop. “Artists talk to each other and when one finds an excellent resource for getting incredible giclée prints produced, they share that info with each other,” he says. “Once we get a client, we keep them. Once they see how good we are, they don’t go anywhere else.”
It’s the working with the artist as a client that is a challenge in itself, but it’s a challenge Gallery Street understands and deals with because if they don’t, they’ve lost their business.
“Think about it: They’re artists – they know their work better then anyone else out there. They’re more critical of their work than anyone else on the planet,” Leftoff says. “We push our machines and this technology to the limit to get every bit of color and quality perfection juiced out of our workflow. If we fail at any single step of the process we will know immediately when we present the final work to the client.”
He explains the feeling of returning an oil painting back to an artist along with a fine-art giclée of that piece on canvas, waiting for the artist’s judgment. “The artists are programmed to be critical, and we are ready for it. We’re that confident and that good. We have to be – otherwise an artist will not come back to you for future work. Without a doubt, that’s the most challenging aspect of dealing with the fine-art market.”
Gallery Street even gets clients from its competitors. “There are not a lot of shops who are still in this business. It’s very challenging,” Leftoff continues. “A decade ago, many thought they could get into producing giclées for artists, but they started dropping like flies. It’s hard work keeping these artists satisfied. Many of those competitors threw in the towel and got into a different line of printing, or completely out of the business all together. There are very few dedicated giclée houses out there that are confident enough and good enough to exist in this business. But a few still remain and we often hear, ‘Why didn’t I come to Gallery Street in the first place?’ We love hearing that.”