If you are an artist about to order Fine Art Photography and Giclee printing, it is sometimes difficult to know which supplier to choose. If you are having your Art photographed, then a supplier within easy driving distance is important, because the cost of transporting expensive art can be prohibitive, but if you already have your own images then you have a large choice of online suppliers.
As far as the photography of your art is concerned, look for a Professional Photographer with experience of working with and handling Fine Art. Many suppliers out there have no background experience of copying art and many do not even use photography. They will offer to ‘Scan’ your artwork on a flatbed scanner, which I am sure you are familiar with. Scanning can be satisfactory depending on the type and size of artwork. It is not really suitable for Oils if you want to eliminate all surface reflections. Many suppliers use A3 scanners a few A2. If your art is larger than the scanner your image will be ‘stitched’ together. It will be scanned in sections, sometimes as many as four depending on the size of the original. It will then be digitally joined together to form a full size image. Certainly not the best approach if you want the very finest reproduction of your art and physically impossible on large or framed paintings.
You will find that suppliers that scan your art may also offer the option of photography if you request it, but the price will be considerably more than scanning as you need an experienced photographer and in most cases they use an outside provider. Better to find a professional photographer experienced in Fine Art who also offers a Giclee printing service.
When providing your own image for Giclee printing, you may be unsure if it is suitable, unless of course it was produced professionally and you have had prints produced from it before. Ask suppliers if they will give you a free assessment of your image and ask if it is suitable to produce a Giclee print at your chosen size. Ask if they will advise you if there will be any issues that may effect the quality of your Giclee print, before you commit to a print run.
Giclee print prices and quality vary from different suppliers, but the lowest prices, although attractive, are not acceptable if this means low quality. Apart from the basic requirements of high end printer, archival papers and inks, the end result will depend on the skills of the person producing the print. The final print quality of an image is determined well before it even reaches the printer. The digital image needs to be balanced, corrected and matched to the original to achieve the finest reproduction. Unfortunately this is where some suppliers are lacking. To truly understand a digital image and what needs to be done to produce a superb Giclee print, needs a skilled person with a background of dealing with images for print. Again a good professional photographer has these talents.
A good Giclee print should be indistinguishable from the original art if produced correctly. There are always occasions when it may be impossible to match an individual colour exactly, but the real test is that the print retains the full tonal range of the original. There should be no loss of detail, even in the darkest shadows or the brightest highlights. If your print has lost detail in these areas, reject it. There is no excuse for this problem and the offer of a reprint will not usually solve the issue. The problem will almost certainly lie with the origination.
Always be sure to insist on a proof before committing to an order for Giclee prints, most good suppliers will provide a proof prior to printing. There may be a charge for the proof, but it is worth it if you are ordering a run of expensive Giclee prints. It is important to view and compare the proof with your art under the same lighting conditions. Most suppliers will proof your image at A4. This is quite satisfactory to judge colour balance but if your final Giclee prints will be printed larger than this e.g. A2 the smaller sized proof will not allow you to check the tonal balance or detail that will be visible at the larger reproduction. I offer my clients a ‘Split’ A4 proof. One half of the proof has the full image, the other half is an enlarged section at the chosen print size. Ask your supplier if they can do the same.
Choosing the paper for your Giclee prints will be a matter of personal choice. Weight, finish and quality of manufacture will be the main considerations. Giclee papers are generally in the 250gsm to 350gsm weight range, but feel the papers first to make a decision. I have a 280gsm paper that feels heavier than my 300gsm paper, I am not sure why but it pays to check papers first before you go to print. The surface finish will vary between types, as will the whiteness of the paper. Practically all papers produced for ink jet printing today are ‘Acid Free’ and any paper from a well known manufacturer of paper for Giclee printing should be of a suitable quality for fine art printing. If you are ordering online, ask your chosen supplier if they can provide you with paper samples. Some will charge for this service, I provide Giclee paper samples free when requested, as a set of A6 prints.