After publishing a few weeks ago a post on Instagram on the quality of the prints I use and the paper I had chosen, I decided that I would write a little bit more about fine art printing so that other artists could benefit hopefully from my experience. Once I resolved that I wanted to sell my art online, I focused on fine art quality for my illustrations because that is something I value whenever I purchase art from other creators. The quality and endurance is close to an original so, in terms of collecting art, this is a great option. Maybe you think there is no difference but, believe me, there is. I really love working with papers and trying different textures and finishes as I illustrate so my research for Giclée printing came somewhat naturally.
The first question you might be asking yourselves might be, "What is Giclée printing exactly?" I became familiar with this term after purchasing illustrations from artists I admired. Many of them emphasized this concept and I started investigating on my own. The word "Giclée" comes from the French verb 'gicler' which is translated as "to squirt or to spray". Technically "Giclée "refers to fine art digital inkjet prints but on specific terms. The digital printing process uses pigment based inks (which last longer and resist fading over time, as opposed to dyes) and high quality archival quality paper in order to achieve superior museum quality. It all boils down mainly to exceptional resolution, longevity and accuracy of color reproduction for a printed work of art, whether it is created digitally or hand painted.
As you can imagine, the type of paper the work it is printed on is decisive. Inks are also of the utmost importance but, in my case, I focused on paper research. Again, I looked through printing pages and artist's online shops, mainly international, in search of a better knowledge on the matter.
My own experience
I came to realize that my main problem was that my printers weren't up to the high quality standards that I was looking for. After acquiring samples of fine art quality papers from brands like Moab Paper and Museo that I was able to find at a local specialized paper distributor, there was no doubt for me that I needed to outsource printing if I wanted to be able to offer the archival quality that I admired. The main reasons for me were:
- Quality, since I couldn't provide it on my own with my current in-house printers.
- Time and tranquility, being able to focus on my work (provided that some other professionals would take care of the process).
- Opportunity to make my own branding and keep learning more about other aspects of my work.
There were obviously some cons that I had to contemplate for my choice but all things considered, I viewed that my current situation would totally benefit from this option and, up to this date, it has proven so. However, after making that decision, another research began for the proper printing house. I have to say that living and working in Barcelona was a little hard to find specific fine art printers. Luckily, I came across Impressionart. Based on my artwork, they recommended four paper types to choose from: Hahnemühle's William Turner, German Etching and Photo Rag and Epson Fine Art's Enhanced Matte. These names might not say anything to you without watching its features:
Comparing these four types of high quality papers, the main issue for me was color reproduction, resolution and texture. Again, I had to make a choice for what best suited my work and my philosophy. As I was able to ascertain, the resolution and finish was astounding in all of them but in my opinion Hahnemühle lived up to its name and proved to be my first selection.
I use a mixed media technique which involves watercolor, colored pencils, graphite, etc. Thus, being able to reproduce all those subtle strokes and surface variations was really significant for me. I considered also that textured paper added character and depth to the final print. So the decision in my case, was between William Turner and German Etching. I finally opted for the latter.
German Etching's surface is matt and velvety which adds warmth to the artwork. It feels almost as an original piece. Despite its obvious texture, it holds detail and it really enhances every illustration. William Turner was a powerful runner up for me and an excellent option but I felt the texture was a little bit too heavy for my smaller prints, somehow almost overshadowing the work.
If you are interested in fine art printing, whether you would like to purchase or sell, I strongly recommend that you do your research first. Learning more about what a process or a concept entails, at least for me, gives me a better perspective and power of decision. Obviously if you intend to offer Giclée prints there is more you need to consider. In essence, you need examine first your equipment and by that, I mean your printer and scanner because you need great resolution for this kind of printing (I normally scan at 720 dpi). Then, the medium or papers you are going to print on. As you might have been able to assess, there are various options and costs and it all depends on your type of work and what you are looking for in a final print of your art. If you can get samples from a local printer that can be of great help. Finally, you will be able to decide if this is a viable option for you and how you will tackle it.
I really hope this post was somehow illuminating for you while also helping you learn a little bit more about my process. I have to say that I am no expert on the matter, I simply share what I learnt from my own experience. If you have questions, thoughts or more knowledge on this subject please comment below so that we can learn together.
Thank you for reading and Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 🍀