Four companies embracing fine art and artists.
“We digitally photograph both 2D and 3D work, and I personally prep the files to a high-degree of color accuracy,” says Daniel, who utilizes the shop’s Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera for approximately 75 percent of its capture work and a 40-megapixel Hasselblad H4D-40 large-sensor medium-format camera for the rest. “We also scan film, which is becoming less and less of an income stream, and we also offer graphic design and file preparation for commercial or display printing.” For scanning, the company relies on its Imacon Flextight (now Hasselblad) vertical scanner, as well as a 12 x 18-inch Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed.
Black Cat Studio uses its Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and 7900 printer, which are about one-year-old, for output. “We still use an older Stylus Pro 9800, but it’s very slow, and so primarily use it for overflow work,” says Daniel.
Customer satisfaction and color accuracy are what Black Cat Studio finds to be the most difficult in fine-art reproduction, claims Daniel. “If our studio standards exceed our client’s expectations we will always have a happy client. But sometimes our client’s expectations are not easily attainable (or even apparent),” he says. “Having to explain why certain colors won’t reproduce is still something we do on a daily basis.”
Daniel compares color management to starting with an apple and ending with an orange – “there will always be differences between the original and the reproduction because of the process,” he says. “Most of my artist clients understand this and are forgiving as long as the differences don’t interfere with the original intention of the artwork. But there are always those clients who want to know why can’t it match, or worse, they say/think, ‘I heard giclée prints are identical to the original’ – which is a completely false belief.”
A worst-case example of color management gone wrong for Black Cat was when a client needed a reproduction of a painting of horses that was created in subtle, changing shades of red. “Half the colors were out of gamut,” says Daniels, “and so what we got was a big blob of red that didn't look anything like the original.”
The studio offers editioning to its clients with some success – in fact it was the first concept that Daniel started at Black Cat. “We tried to make it equal with fine-art lithography or serigraphy where all the prints in an edition were produced in the same run,” says Daniel. “We marketed giclée printing as a fine-art edition service that could begin from any painting or media the artists could provide, and generate a museum-quality limited- and numbered-edition. But it was more flexible in that the clients had a choice to order one or a few prints at a time, or the whole (100 to 1000) quantity of prints.”
And the company offers “Heirloom Services.” The studio found that many clients were bringing in old family paintings, photos, and sculptures after someone had passed away to be reproduced. So Daniel now offers “Heirloom Services,” where the studio digitizes the original, and digitally repairs, restores, and outputs it, creating several copies for each heir. These images can also be re-purposed into archivally printed visuals for the customer’s home or office.
“We had a project that involved three brothers warring over their deceased mother’s 12 paintings. Each had three or four originals, but wanted access to the others,” says Daniel. “So they agreed (through their lawyers no doubt) to individually bring in each of their collections so we could make two copies (prints on canvas, stretched) of each for the other brothers. I dealt with them all, but they didn’t have to deal with each other.”
Black Cat Studio doesn’t mount, stretch canvas, or frame prints of artist’s work, nor sell or market artwork. But Daniel and company does help them get to that process: “We support our clients with information like how to set retail prices for their prints, negotiating with galleries or wholesalers, price per piece calculations, and more,” he says.