Sunday, June 15, 2014

To print or not to print

I've never done prints of my work. If I can't manage to sell my originals, why on earth would I want to also have prints of it?? A few thing got me reconsidering my point of view. First, I've met people who love my work, but there is no way they could possibly afford an original. Given that my main subject matter over the last couple years has been musicians, and that musicians tend to often be as broke as artists, prints would give the subjects of my paintings an opportunity to actually own one. And the whole "print on demand" thing has made things infinitely easier. No longer do you have to do a run of 100 to make it economical... it's all done digitally so you can print one if that's all you need. Seems like there is no real reason not to do it.  So started my foray into the art print reproduction market....

I have a day job. For the past 20 years I have worked in the graphics field, doing various tasks including scanning, image retouching, colour correction, illustration, layout and design. I've worked on art catalogues, I've worked on magazines. At the moment I work in packaging (which is a totally different animal). So I have some experience with reproduction. I know how an image gets from camera to final, and the steps it goes through. And I'm pretty good at it.

First things first... I had to find a printer. I figured I'd start small. A postcard. Easy. Only...

Things have changed in the 12 years since I left the litho world and went off to deal with recycled board and rubber plates. Holy crap, have they ever. Everything is done online now. Everything. They don't even want to talk to you. Can I pick it up? No. You have to pay for shipping. Seriously? You're down the street.... it's less than a five minute drive. No, you cannot pick it up. Well... ok then. I guess we'll ship it. The specs for uploading your files were very precise. File type, size, resolution, icc profile... how does the artist who has not had the benefit of my experience ever get this right?

I got my postcards and they looked great. I've even had a second image printed, along with business cards with an image on them. The upside of everything being done online is that the price has come down considerably, and I have to admit, having them shipped to my door is pretty damn convenient.

Samples on paper and canvas
So, I've recently begun step two... a full-sized, signed, limited edition print of an original work. I had to find another printer, because I want acid free paper and archival inks. Seems I've gone from the guys who didn't want to talk to me for any reason, ever (email only) to a guy who doesn't return (and I suspect doesn't even read) his email. Sigh. Still, he did samples for me and they look awesome, so I suppose I shall use the phone.

I got proofs on a 23 mil archival paper, and canvas. As an artist I've purchased a lot of paper in my time. I have a load of it in my studio. I don't know what 23 mil is??? All my paper is weighed in lbs/100 sheets. Or grams. I don't have mils listed on anything. Well, just so you know, it is a lovely, very white, very heavy and very stiff paper. I would have to ship that flat, no way can I roll it. Oh my, that could get expensive....

I'm still trying to figure this out. Email was sent (and not replied to) on Thursday, so I guess on Monday I'm going to call and try to get this sorted. I have 3 prints to send off to my Global Vernissage commenters, so I hope they can be patient just a little while longer.