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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.

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By Clare Baker

Another print shop pushing the boundaries-quite literally-is Chicago-based Archival Imaging ( Five years after opening in 2001, owner Juan Galindo decided to expand his printing business to include gallery space. After moving his business from the fifth floor of a building to the spacious first floor with a large window front, Galindo opened Ai Gallery. Galindo is the shop’s master printmaker while Kimberly Hoffman, one of three other Archival Imaging employees and the director of Ai Gallery, works with clients through the color-correction process.

Archival Imaging, which prints original fine-art reproductions as well as photography, has a wide-ranging client base, including Oppenheimer Editions, which has authorized the shop to reproduce John James Audubon’s original watercolors. Hoffman’s and other employees’ involvement in the Chicago art community enables them to meet regional artists in need of Archival Imaging’s services. They also have clients from all over the world, Hoffman says. "With FTP service, e-mail, and FedEx, we easily printed an entire museum exhibit for an artist without him ever leaving Italy."

To produce its clients’ work, Archival Imaging prints on an Ixia/Iris and an Epson Stylus Pro 9600. Galindo and Hoffman prefer to use their Ixia, but purchased the Epson to print on canvas. "The dye-based inks in the Ixia," Hoffman explains, "are nice because they enable such a small dot size, but they are not water-resistant like those used with the Epson." When reproducing original artwork, they first photograph the art with a 4x5 view camera with a Better Light Super 8k Scanning back, enabling them to digitally capture up to 500 MB of information without a transparency.

The proofing process

While these five printmakers may have divergent backgrounds and utilize an assortment of technology, an aspect of their work common to them-and to most fine-art print providers-is the intense proofing process. Reproducing the correct colors and tonal balance is essential to successful fine-art printmaking. Good communication, then, between the print provider and the artist becomes crucial.