In the near future I will be offering two separate premium print options, which has come about due to an artistic dialogue between myself and a client and these will be:
- “One of a kind” prints on premium museum quality prints up to 60 inches (152cm’s) on Rag Papers also known as Cotton papers. You will receive the only copy of the work at a print size of your choice. Things such as the rarity of the Landscape scene, production time, cost of materials as well as time spent out in the field will all be taken into account when pricing the “one of a kind” artwork.
- Also I will take orders personally on prints on cottone papers up to 60 inches (152cm’s) of all my images in my main gallery, pricing to come soon.
Rag paper prints are what all the galleries and museums use to print their works so you know you are getting something that lasts.
the background story …
A few months ago someone approached me saying that they really liked my HDR work but the art that they collect for their own personal enjoyment were all original works and would I be interested in producing something for him and his wife. I really liked the idea of producing something unique for them, so we engaged into a dialogue to develop an artwork that both satisfied them and in the end expanded my own art practices into unchartered territory (for the good).
How the conversation worked was I got the both of them to look at my main gallery portfolio and select works which they liked and then that gave me a general idea for what type of work they were after. Then I would set aside works of similar nature and before I released them out to all you guys I presented the images to them first. I watermarked each of them to protect the images for future clients as well as my own art practices integrity. Eventually, we ended up finding an image that really worked for them and we entered into the printing phase.
My current Print shop details
My print shop currently prints archival (museum quality) photographs, canvas and metal artworks up to 40 inches. Thats a huge 101.6 cm ! across and I personally own a 36″ limited edition gloss print on metal of the Surfers Paradise Skyline which hangs above my bed. I especially love it at night when it looks amazing illuminated by artificial light which has this way of making the colours even more vivid, the printing method looks great for HDR.
Researching and Printing a museum quality fine art image to 150 cm’s !
Very early on they had indicated that one of their criteria was a print about 1.5 metres on the long end and we always had that intention, which meant I was going to have to find a new printer for the job. I shoot on a Full Frame Nikon D800 which offers the most detail out of any current DSLR on the market so I was 90% sure it was going to be able to handle the job. A photographer I follow, Daniel Cheong, works primarily out of Dubai and I’ve seen several images of him standing next to prints from his Nikon D800 that are larger than him (although he looks like a fairly short man hehe) so this also gave me the confidence to take on such a project.
Resizing my image to 1.5 meters
To make sure the file was able to handle being printed at this size, 1.5m’s, I used a software program called OnOne’s Perfect Resize to enlarge the file to the full 36 x 54″ size which was the final print size we went with. What the software does is stretches the dimensions of the file and it will take neighbouring pixels in the file and using an algorithm based on fractal mathematics written by developers at OnOne it will create new pixels. It really is amazing software and works a million times better than just increasing the file size with photoshop as it can retain image detail. Check out the example of the frog on the Perfect Resize link I have posted here at OnOne. Perfect Resize also has a heap of presets included for things like gallery wrap or printer settings, worth a look for anyone wanting to print on a large scale as it boasts enlargement of up to 800%.
I trialled out quite a few printers and went in to chat with a few of them, as well as a gallery, and I aslo looked at what their Print Labs were capable of, here in Brisbane Australia. I have a masters in Art Conservation so I understand the importance of materials when it comes to creating an artwork that will stand the test of time and time is an artworks greatest enemy apart from damaging aspects such as light, air and water (pretty much everything haha). When you think about it the materials of an artwork are often organic such as the plants that go into the fibres of the paper as well the inks. So it was important for me to find a printer that was capable of not only printing to that size but had materials that stood up to my standards, which are set very high !
What I learnt, but really already knew, is that the best paper to print on is rag paper as apposed to wood pulp paper which is a process that most papers are made from. Rag papers, also known as cotton papers, are actually made from crushing cotton fibres over and over again and believe it or not they come out with extremely high quality and are what all the galleries and museums use to print out their images. They are a tried and true method for printing your fine art images and it’s probably nothing against Brisbane but I ended up having to outsource this job to another city, Melbourne actually. I did trial a few printers in Brisbane but got tired of getting mediocre results. I lived in Melbourne for 2 years and studied at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and I think it has to be the art capital of Australia without a doubt. There are just so many more galleries and state institutions which also has a huge amount of state support and a thriving cultural sector down there. So I ended up starting a dialogue with the lab technician at a fine art printer down in Melbourne.
Why did I choose this particular paper ?
In the end it had to do with the the papers ability to reproduce a large dynamic range along with deep blacks which is very important in HDR images which is solely based on High Dynamic Ranges 🙂 Cotton paper is superior in both strength and durability to wood pulp-based papers and this will help in the longevity of an artwork.
ILFORD Gold Fibre Silk 310gsm- GALERIE Prestige Gold Fibre Silk features an inkjet layer coated directly onto a true baryta (barium sulphate) layer and fibre base to produce images with exceptional gamut for vivid colour reproduction as well as creamy whites and velvety blacks for the unique look of traditional silver halide photo paper.
Why I went with a printer in California and not Australia for my main print gallery…
In outsourcing my work to a fine art printer in Melbourne I have now expanded my own art practice to include premium fine art rag paper’s, which I will look to include for everyone on my website soon !!! I also like the idea of using a local Australian company for these types of fine art works within my portfolio. My main print gallery uses a lab based in California and I did this for a few reasons, namely :
- A) the quality of their printing is immaculate, sharp and vivid. Everything I want in a printer
- B) Australia doesn’t have an automated integrated online system for printing and posting to the standard of the one I chose and it has to do with the quality of the coding of the system combined with print quality. I got my web developer to look at the code behind many different systems for me and unfortunately the Australian integrations aren’t up to scratch unfortunately unless I wanted to do everything manually for each and every print and this just wasn’t an option for me.
- C) I can upload my images for you from any location in the world and these can then be couriered to any location in the world without me having to packaged the prints myself and heading to the post office to get them out to you. Plus having them professionally packaged is an added bonus for having images sent round the world, and
- D)By going with a well known print lab I essentially cut out the fear of customers who might mistrust websites asking for their credit card. Payments are made through the print lab’s secure payment system and therefore makes it a much safer and smoother experience.
What did the print look like ?
Which brings me to the work… The print lab technician was so excited at the results that she took a photo with her iPad of the work coming out of the printer and sent it to me, which I also forwarded to the client. Suffice to say, we were all happy with the look of it 🙂 When viewing this small image you have to take into account when looking at this image that it is 54 inches on the horizontal length, which is 137 centimeters. This is one massive printer !!!
Thanks to the client (you know who you are) for allowing me to post this image on my website to show how the work turned out. I have protected the originality of the image by downsizing the image to 500 pixels and placing my logo on it, for obvious reasons 🙂 The skyline is that of Surfer’s Paradise and they like this one because they holiday here as well as him being into surfing.
Has this been successful ?
Yes, extremely ! It has been an important step in the right direction for me as an artist as well as expanding my knowledge within my own art practices. It’s always important to have as much knowledge as you can about materials, especially when you are running your own business. The client always stated that it was his intentions that this endeavour would help my growth as an artist and to further develop not only my own knowledge but my business as well, which at the end of the day is what I do- run a business. Even though I am an artist, I essentially have built up and run my own small business which has had so many lessons to be learnt along the way and many of them I had not even seen coming. It takes a long time to build up a business and is something which you need to be dedicated too and willing to learn and make mistakes. You aren’t always going to have everything run smoothly, but it’s what you take away from your mistakes and how you move forward that is important.
What Now ?
Currently I have my Australian fine art print lab producing samples from their 11 different fine art papers, yes 11 !!! from one of my HDR’s. I decided to have the exact same image printed on all of them so that I can compare the dynamic range, colour and tone of all of them and select my favourites.
The Future …
I like the idea of tangible works still being hung in your home or office even though art practices looking forward are moving towards a digital platform. I believe there will always be a place for art of some kind of within the home, even if they are of a digital nature such as a holographic projections which cycles through many artworks. As an artist I am willing to evolve and see there will always be a need for artists to create those works. For now I am using a modern digital technique to print on a traditional paper and for me it couldn’t be sweeter, I love making vibrant HDR images for you to enjoy. Already we are seeing smaller cameras, such as the Sony NEX, Nikon J1 or Olympus E-PM1, able to produce similar results to those of entry level DSLR’s and it seems to be the way of things where cameras will become smaller and smaller and an artist has to be willing to evolve with them. I love technology so I can’t see myself being held back by changes in media but only time will tell.
Author, Luke Zeme.