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Drawing a Fine-Art Crowd

(February 2011) posted on Thu Feb 03, 2011

Tips from six shops on working with fine artists and their art.

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By Britney Grimmelsman

Although some clients come to Avalon with their work already digitally captured, most seek a more professional look. “Very rarely some [clients] try and photograph their artwork themselves but are unhappy with the results,” says Johnson. For the rare clients who come to the shop with slides or transparencies, Avalon uses its Howtek 4500 drum scanner.

The majority of Avalon’s fine-art clients want exact replicas of their original work, which can pose a challenge, “I get their expectations upfront before the job starts. If it’s a watercolor reproduction, I can usually make an exact replica; for oil paintings, I explain the printer’s color gamut in relation to oil pigments – how it is smaller– so there’s no confusion.” Because of the complications with oil paintings, Avalon generally produces three to four rounds of internal proofs, typically creating these with its Epson printer on the media of the client’s choice. Also available is an online proofing gallery, which has been successful with photography clientele, reports Johnson.

For final output, the shop turns to its Epson Stylus Pro 7800 and 9800 printers because of their color capabilities, says Johnson. Avalon has other output options as well: It utilizes a Xerox 700 digital press to create 7 x 7-inch fine-art cards, and it also owns a Noritsu minilab, which it uses for Kodak prints up to 12 x 12 feet.

The current economy has made it difficult for Avalon to increase its fine-art sales. “I would like to [increase my sales], but in this economy, art is more of a luxury item,” admits Johnson. To offset the loss in fine-art clients, Avalon has really stepped up its commercial printing: “Even though the commercial print industry suffered from the economy, it didn’t nearly do so as much as the fine-art market. Now a large percentage of our business comes from commercial short-run printing.”

The LightRoom: pride in media
The LightRoom ( in Berkeley, California, is a fine-art and photography print shop that began using Iris printers during the late 1990s in addition to the Cibachrome printing it has been doing since 1975.

Currently, fine-art printing constitutes 50 percent of the company’s sales, and it deals primarily with local artists. To continue increasing its fine-art clientele, LightRoom recently created a blog, “LightRumors,” which offers discussions on the latest trends in printing, art, and photography. The shop also offers a 10-percent discount to all new clients.