I get asked a lot of questions about the Giclée Print process. If the same questions keep showing up it is time to answer them in a different way. Hopefully this FAQ page will help.
1. What does the word Giclée mean?
2. Why is a Giclée different from other types of print reproduction?
3. What is the best printer to use for Giclée Prints?
4. What does the word archival mean in the art business?
5. How do I know that my prints are archival?
6. My printer said he uses pigmented inks. What does that mean?
7. Are all art papers the same?
No, there are so many different varieties of art papers I could not begin to list all the possibilities. You have lightweight papers, used mostly for photographs, all the way to very heavy, textured substrates used in specialty art. I tend to use a middle of the road weight with a soft velvet surface. This paper reproduces the artists work better than any other paper I have tested. My paper is manufactured by Hawk Mountain Papers, out of Bernville, Pennsylvania. I helped do the original testing of their papers and have never changed. Their product will match any other papers on the market today for quality and archival permanence. I also like the idea that the paper is manufactured here in the U.S. This fact alone offers a considerable amount of savings which I can pass onto my clients.
8. Paper or Canvas, which is better?
It really doesn’t matter. It all depends on what you can sell to your client base. Canvas prints are the rage among art buyers. They feel canvas has more value. I have artists whose total work is watercolor. They then have both paper and canvas prints made for resale. You as an artists must determine what will sell for you.
9. What is a Ring-around Proof?
It is a series of images printed on a sheet of paper or canvas, of your original piece of artwork. Each image is a different density and a different color.
10. Why do you offer a Ring-around Proof and no one else seems to?
The idea of a ring-around proof goes back to my days when I ran a photographic lab. I would produce a ring-around proof to determine the best density and color of the print before I committed to using expensive photo paper. Today I still follow this procedure. This allows you to look at the sheet of multiple images and pick the best density and color. Many times an artist will find an image that does not match their original but they like it better. Unless there is some reason, etched in stone, that the reproduction must match exactly this gives you opportunity to tweak your image and make it better. The reproduction will never hang next to the original so you can use your artistic license and make the reproduction look like a completely different print.
11. Is it expensive to reproduce my artwork?
That all depends on whether you are selling your art or not. If you only paint and give your work to friends and family, yes it is expensive. If you sell your work on a regular basis then it becomes an investment in your future. If you created a piece of art, sold the original, and never had a scan made of the original you have lost a potential fortune. When you sell your originals and have no backup of that original you have no way to make any income from that piece of art.
I have seen artists sell their originals then go on to sell multiple copies of that original. Everytime they sell a reproduction it gives them more income. In the past you took your original to a photographer and they photographed the art. They then gave you a transparency and you took it to a printer. The printer made a set of separations and printed 500 to 1000 prints. If you wanted a different sized print you had to start all over and make another set of separations and make another production run. This was an expensive proposition, especially if you only sold a few prints.
Today you are living in the world of modern technology. You take your original artwork to your printer. He scans the original art and creates a digital file. You now order 5 prints and sell them. No inventory. You decide you want a different sized print. The printer resizes the file and prints more prints. Again no inventory. Modern technology is wonderful. You may pay a bit more for each print, but you don’t have to put out thousands of dollars to put inventory on your shelf.
Once you have that digital file you can do so much with it to generate additional income. You can make note cards, tshirts, posters, puzzles… the possibilities go on and on. I have one artist who licenses his art to other companies and is making a steady income from the realities.
12. Should I offer limited editions?
In the past an edition of prints was limited by the number of prints that could be pulled from the plate before it became so deteriorated that the image was no longer crisp and bright. The artist would number the prints sequentially, so you purchased a low number you knew you were getting a better print than a high number. When litho prints were made with an offset press an artist was able to print thousands of pieces before the plates wore out. Along comes a smart marketing person and started to number the prints 35/1000. He then priced the prints so the lower numbers would bring a higher prince than #1000.
Today with the advent of Giclée prints, each print is an original and the first print will look the same as all other prints printed. There is no limit on the number of prints that can be print.
As for producing limited edition prints, there are so many ideas on what to do and what not to do it makes your head spin. My take on this subject is as follows. First, it is up to the artist. Second, for my own art I do not offer limited editions. I increase my price by $100.00 for every 25 reproductions I sell. That way the art will be self limiting as the price increases. That is the way I do it, not necessarly the correct way.
Just remember if you have decided to offer a piece of your art as a limited edition and the edition sells out, your income stops. You legally can not create another edition from that image. You cannot change the size and call it a new edition.
13. Can I use my 7 mega pixel camera to copy my artwork?
If you want to make a record of your art, yes, by all means. If you want to reproduce your work to sell, no. Your 7 mp camera can not capture enough information to make a good print. On average my scans are in the 400 to 800 mp range. These scans are captured using a professional scanning back on a 4×5 camera. This high range of pixels allow me to capture even the paper fibers.
14. What is the best way to scan my artwork?
The best way is to have the art scanned using a scanning back attached to a standard large format camera. This keeps the surface of the art from being touched. The second best way is a high resolution flatbed scanner. The third, and the one I highly recommend that you do not allow, is to push your art through a sheet fed scanner. These scanners have a bad reputation for scratching the surface of your art.
15. How many prints should I order at one time?
It all depends on how many prints you can sell within a 6 month period of time. It does not make any sense to order a large number of prints only to have them lay on the shelf and not sell. I always tell my artists get your first print sold then order several more. With the advent of Giclée printers you can have prints made on demand. i. e.. when you need them, I print them, and ship them to you.
16. What is the minimum number of prints that I can buy at one time?
17. When I order prints can I mix sizes?
Yes. There are no service charges for mixing sizes. Just tell me how many prints you want at each size and I will print them for you.
18. Can I mix substrates?
You can have prints made on watercolor paper, canvas, or photo gloss paper. It does not matter to me. You tell me how many of each substrate and I will print them. There are no additional service charges to change size or substrate.
19. How do I get a digital file?
You can do it one of two ways. You can find a commercial photographer in your area who has the ability to give you a high resolution digital file of your art, or you can ship the art to me and I will create the file for you. You want a file that is 300dpi at the reproduction size of your final print. This is going to be a large file, so don’t flinch when you are told you will have a file that is 600+ megs. in size.
20. Do I really need a file that large?
How large is your final print going to be? You may say that your original is 11×14 and I will never need anything larger. What happens when someone comes to you and says they really like your image but they need it to be 20×24. You just lost a sale because your original scan is not large enough to res. up to that size. It may cost a bit more on the front end, but you will be able to make almost any size print you need.
21. Can anyone with a wide format printer make Giclée prints for me?
Yes, but with reservations. Many sign shops, photographers, and graphic arts shops have wide format printers. Some even have the same kind of printers that Fine Art Print houses have, but that does not make the fine art printers. Fine art print houses specialize in art printing and art printing only. Art printing is a special niche in the printing industry. I takes a great deal of skill to balance the printers to the paper and inks that are used to produce these prints. Most shops neither have the people or the time that it takes to keep their equipment calibrated to a much higher standard.
If you want the highest quality prints possible look for a printing facility that specializes in Fine Art Reproductions. I have over 45 years experience in art reproduction with over 10 years using high end inkjet printers.
22. Ok how much does it really cost to produce my first print?
The price is $150.00. It includes scanning your original painting, color correcting and cleaning any imperfections created when scanned. Then I make a proof for you to look at. You make your selection and I make you a 1/2 size proof on canvas or heavy weigh archival art paper. You look at the proof and decide if it is ok or needs some changes. Once you are satisfied with the proof I make you a full size print which becomes your first saleable print. I also supply you with a CD which contains a copy of your production file, a notecard file, a certificate of authenticity file, a website file, and a Zapplication file for submitting to juried shows.
If you just want a record of your painting put on a CD…. just a scan of your image that price is $50.00. At a later date you can complete the process and I credit your $50.00 toward the $150.00.
It normally takes about two weeks to do the whole process.
If you can not find an answer to your question please call me at (717) 576-8884. I carry my phone with me at all times except for Sunday Morning Church Service.