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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

The benefits of running a specialized fine-art print shop, however, lie in the profitability of fine-art printing. 'In a production shop, oftentimes you have to produce thousands of signs just to make a profit-and if the shop messes up, you're on the edge of making a profit or losing money. Fine-art printing has a little more of a buffer because people are willing to pay more for a premium product.'

And there are personal benefits to working at a fine-art print shop, Carroll adds. For one, the work is always interesting: 'I never know what's going to come through the door. I never know because there's such a wide range of art out there.'

A small but growing percentage of work

While smaller, more specialized shops are often the choice for fine artists, bigger shops capable of producing a variety of jobs-from P-O-P displays to superwide banners to vehicle wraps-in addition to fine-art prints have had success in this market as well.

Take, for instance, Extreme Graphixs ( The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based shop opened in March 2003 and since then has offered clients a range of services including graphic design, prepress, and large-format printing-as well as fine-art printing, which now comprises a steady percentage of the shop's work.

To reproduce the artwork that comes through its doors, Extreme Graphixs uses a PhaseOne scanback camera to capture the image. 'A lot of the art is at least 24-inches wide, and we'll reproduce pieces 40-inches and up. For those sizes, a scanback camera works better than a flatbed or rollfed scanner for us,' says Adam Elrich, owner of Extreme Graphixs. 'We’ll often go through several rounds of capture,' he adds. 'It may take half a dozen attempts to get the reproduction that we want.'

The images are color corrected in Photoshop and the artist is then called in to examine the print on screen; additional color corrections are made if needed. A physical proof is output on the same media that will be used in final printing. If the artist approves the file, Elrich explains, the final print is output and a master file is created for that print for the shop's archives.