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The Fine Art of Success

(April 2008) posted on Wed Apr 09, 2008

Exploring the potential profits in fine-art printmaking.

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By Clare Baker

It may be the troubles that Simons has had with outsourcing his printing that has turned him away from digitally printed inkjet photographs altogether. 'There's so much money that goes into it-both from the printmaker and from those who are buying the prints-but sometimes the work just doesn't look like it's worth the money. And when large numbers of reproductions are produced of one print, the work feels detached from the artist. For me, then, it's hard to justify charging a high price for the print.'

While the continued growth of inkjet fine-art printing is evidence that this isn't the perception of fine artists on the whole, it’s an indicator of just how important it is to find a print provider that the artist feels comfortable working with and that shares his or her vision of how the completed print should look.

Precise specialization

For artists seeking that perfect print provider to output their work, their options will usually fall into one of two camps: the smaller print shop specializing in fine-art reproduction, and the larger shop offering fine-art reproduction as one of many services.

Artful Color (, in Apex, North Carolina, belongs to the first group. The shop was opened five years ago by an engineer with a strong background in color science who worked as a consultant in color management and print-management technology. Catering to artists looking to reproduce high-quality fine-art reproductions, photographs, and digital imagery, Artful Color began by producing mostly local work from North Carolina. Today, after steady word-of-mouth promotion about their capabilities, the shop produces work throughout the East Coast, says Stephen Carroll, the shop's production manager.

For large scale reproductions, the output process begins with the scanning of the original on a Cruse scanner, which the shop contracts out locally. 'We prefer scanning to capturing the image with a camera back-this seems to be more accurate and a bit more consistent,' explains Carroll. The shop also has in-house an Epson Expression 1000 scanner, which is used to scan paintings smaller than 16 x 20 inches; the images taken from those scans are then stitched together in Photoshop.