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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

Most of the companies noted in this article print several proofs at a reduced size using the same printers and consumables. The Jarvises, for example, print approximately three proofs either at 8 x 10 or 12 x 15, depending on the size and detail of the original. The Digital Artist’s Space, printing on the same printer and media as the final image, gives artists the choice of a standard proofing service or an original print matching service. The standard service provides clients with one proof to verify color accuracy and allows for minor tweaking, while the original print matching service, which provides clients with three proofs, is a "much more hands-on process," including color management and retouching, as Schlesinger describes.

Jack Duganne usually prints three or four proofs, explaining that number "gives us a range where the artist is able to look at [the proofs] and say, ‘You know, you’re right, I really like what you did with increasing the saturation in this one, or making that blue pop up, or allowing me to see the yellow that I wasn’t able to see in the original.’" In Duganne’s studio, the artist signs off on a final proof, signing it as a BAT (or bon a tirer in French, meaning "good to pull"). He keeps that as the print to match when an artist orders new prints. "Proofing," he says, "is probably the most important part of the process." "It’s a very personal interaction that occurs between the artist and myself."

Jim Respess also understands the importance of the relationship between the printmaker and the artist. After printing several proofs for a client, he sets up a meeting with the artist to compare the original and the proofs. "Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes it takes three hours. It depends on the piece and also on the artist."

Kimberly Hoffman with Archival Imaging explains, "Our printing process varies for each client...Anticipating the client’s needs saves both their time and money, as well as ours." She adds, "Without a great client/printmaker relationship, you do not have a great printmaking relationship. We pride ourselves on our friendliness and [our] ability to understand our client’s needs. "