Quality Printing done right

When I decided to bring my “art” to the marketplace, I knew I wanted to offer a quality product but I didn’t know how. This of course was a culture shock for me as I was clearly stepping outside of the comfort zone I associate with my day to day work. That isn’t to say my business levels are unaffected by the prevailing economic climate, rather that ‘technically speaking’, I have a thorough grasp of the varying issues I encounter each day when talking to professional intermediaries.

The internet is undoubtedly an unbelievable repository of information. However, there is often a labyrinthine journey to negotiate in order to arrive at a viable solution to a particular problem. In my case the problem was simple; namely how to bring to market a limited edition print that would highlight all the nuances of my pencil work. After all if I make full use of the available B and H range of pencils I should surely expect the print copy to mirror my fastidiousness? Armed with this thought in mind, I began early experiments with various types of paper. I knew for certain that I did not wish to associate the feel of an inkjet photo print with my work. The paper is far too smooth and completely removed from the texture I am accustomed to producing my originals on. No I definitely wanted to generate a fine art print and to ensure customers understood what they had purchased when the print arrived. In determining whether a farmhouse is truly a “working property” qualifying for certain tax reliefs or merely a luxury home surrounded by acres of land the Inland Revenue applies what it calls the “elephant test” i.e. “it’s hard to describe but you know it when you see it”. That is exactly the position I found myself in. I had seen and felt the type of paper I wanted in the distant past but it was clearly not available in general retail outlets.

Over time I spoke with an increasing number of other artists and I became aware of the more respected types of fine art paper yet the samples I ordered in only generated mixed results. So for example, Frank Sinatra’s slightly weather beaten face still yielded acceptable results via differing print techniques whereas Madonna’s image would turn deathly white leaving little more than the distinct outline of her nostrils, eyes and mouth. Even more worrying I found I could damage the print surface with the lightest of fingertip pressure more than two days after the print had been generated; all very disconcerting to say the least. Disheartened as I was at this stage I knew an answer had to exist, the only issue being the inherent break even cost of production. Then I was fortunate to meet someone who mentioned Giclée. My ears picked up – “What is that I asked” and she very kindly explained.

The word Giclée (“g-clay”), is derived from the French verb gicler meaning “to squirt or spray” (would you expect anything less from the French!) and is used to describe a fine art digital printing process combining pigment based inks with high quality archival quality paper to achieve Giclée prints of superior archival quality, light fastness and stability.

The Giclée printing process involves squirting or spraying microscopic dots of pigment-based ink onto high quality art paper or canvas. The image is colour corrected to attain the closest possible match to the original work if required. The digital information is fine tuned to the type of paper or surface on which the image is to be printed, further ensuring fidelity to the original.

Finally, the correct paper type adds a classy, decorative feel making it perfect for everything from portfolios to art prints for exhibitions.

So there it was – the solution I had sought for five months and roughly five times as expensive. I thought music was an expensive hobby, regularly restringing eight guitars, annual piano tunings, equipment maintenance, new leads etc. Not a bit of it, in fact a financial breeze compared to art. People keep asking me “when are you switching to colour then Antonio?” “When I can afford to” comes the reply. Anyway I like black and white – it adapts itself well to different lighting conditions and I feel it lets the subject of my portrait speak for themselves. In addition the effect is synonymous with “film noir” and has a sense of class to it.

I hope I’m not sounding too pretentious – when I think I’ve caught a likeness and I’m feeling pleased with myself my wife will teasingly chastise me for leaving dirty finger marks around the house. When I delude myself that a particular portrait is complete she will stare at it and murmur “well it’s coming along nicely” which means of course that, in her own opinion, it will look great after another four hour’s work!