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The Nature of Fine-Art Printing

(March 2007) posted on Thu Mar 15, 2007

Five print providers share their experiences working with fine art and artists.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Clare Baker

It’s no surprise that digital fine-art printmaking is a growing market. Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, the quality of the equipment and materials has steadily risen, while the costs of the technology have continued to decrease. As a result, a growing number of print providers and artists have capitalized on the opportunity to open their own dedicated fine-art print shop or add that capability to their existing services.

But being a successful provider to fine artists takes much more than just having the right printer, media, and inks. It means knowing how to utilize that technology to produce the best print, it means understanding color management and how to market your services, and perhaps most importantly, it means listening to clients and working with them to create something that makes both the artist and the printmaker proud.

Stand out from the rest

It was a question that kept even Shakespeare up at night that got Jack Duganne thinking: "What’s in a name?" He wanted to find a term for fine-art digital prints that was universal and would stick around. A name that would still be applicable no matter what direction the technology took. He finally decided on giclee, taken from the French word for nozzle, gicleur. "The word caught on," says Duganne, "and stayed forever."

Duganne’s contributions to digital fine art, however, extend well beyond adding a word to the lexicon. A trained printmaker, Duganne worked alongside digital-art pioneers at Nash Editions in Manhattan Beach, CA, during the advent of the digital fine-art era. After six years at Nash Editions, Duganne opened his own studio, Duganne Ateliers, in 1996. As with any new business, Duganne needed to find a way to attract new clients to his Santa Monica, CA,-based operation. "I didn’t know [what clients] I was going to get...I was on my own." As a way to draw in new clients, he set up an arrangement where he would produce one print of two or three of an artist’s images for free, and in turn, he would keep one of the prints to sell. His plan worked. "The greatest thing that happened was that when those artists got back to their studios or back to their galleries, the buzz was on. They wanted to know where they got these, how they got these, who did them, and could they get some too?"