Tag Archives: printing

Canvas Print Discount for the UK Folks

[tweetmeme]1ClickPrint is offering up a special discount code for the readers of Epic Edits. They provide all sorts of printing services, but this discount applies to their canvas printing. And since they are a UK based company, their offer extends only to the UK and Ireland. So here’s the deal:

Take a £10 discount on canvas prints. There’s no minimum purchase needed to use the code and they deliver for free. The offer is good for all of 2010.

DISCOUNT CODE: 1576646293

The code can be used online, over the phone, or in store. They have branches in Sheffield, Doncaster, and Dinnington. So if you’re out that way and you are thinking about printing on canvas, maybe give these guys a shot and use that discount!

Anybody have experience with 1ClickPrint and their canvas printing services?

Link Roundup 05-15-2010

Link Roundup 04-21-2010

Your Guide to Making Fine Art Prints

Your Guide to Making Fine Art Prints

So here it is — everything you ever wanted to know about producing fine art prints! Well… probably not everything, but definitely more than nothing. This is a HUGE topic and it’s difficult to discuss because the official rule book for making fine art prints has been missing from the holy temple of photography for quite some time.

So we did our best to discuss the important aspects of the subject, and the fellow artists leaving comments on the articles have been more than helpful. If you haven’t read through the entire series of articles, take a stroll through the archive. And definitely read through the comments at the very bottom of each page — they probably contain more content than the actual articles. I offer up a big thanks to all who participated in the discussion — you guys are great!

INTRODUCTIONS: Making prints sounds simple at first — just hit the print button, right? Well… yes and no. Prints can actually be quite involved depending on how far you want to go with them. Once you cross the line of producing a signed print, you’re basically putting your integrity on the line. A signature is a “seal of approval” when it comes to prints, and this is something you shouldn’t take lightly. This is an intro to an upcoming series.

PREFACE: Before we dive into the main topics for this series, I wanted to mention a few things to set the tone. These are things that should hold true for the length of the series, and I don’t want to waste precious real estate on repeating myself with each article.

PREPARING: With fine art prints, preparation is probably the most important step in the process. So many things are dependent on other things, it’s imperative that you have a clear path defined. The end product is your goal, but the process is the path you must take. If that path is ill-defined, your final product will be something less than fine art. In this article, we’ll simply talk about the preparation that must take place before producing your final work.

PRINTING: I think we’ve covered the bases for general preparations, so now it’s time to start making that print! This is really the first step in producing a fine art print, but it’s not any more or less important than the other steps. If I could give just one piece of advice in this article, it would be to make the final print at the highest quality humanly possible. Here’s a few tips and advice for making that happen.

SIGNING: Finally, we’re getting to the less discussed topic of producing fine art prints: signing. I’ve had a few people ask the same questions about where to sign, how to sign, what to sign with, etc. If there existed an official rule book, set of laws, or holy parchment that contained the answers I’d direct everybody to the web page. But I don’t think something like that exists, and I know the process of signing fine art is less than defined.

FRAMING: We’re really coming along on this series! Almost to the finish line now! In this article, we’ll be covering the topics of matting, mounting, and framing your fine art prints. These are really the final steps in producing the artwork, and they’re equally important as the other steps. Read on for some tips and guidelines, and be sure to share your thoughts and insights in the comments!

SHIPPING: This article will dive into some of the discussion about packaging and shipping your fine art prints. With each step in the process of print making, the piece becomes a little more complete. At the end, you might have to send it to a new owner, and all that hard work is out of your hands during the transit. Here are a few tips to keep your print safe!

WHAT DID WE FORGET???

Speak up if we left out any topics that you’d like addressed! This is a big subject, so I’m certain that some things have slipped by.

Making Fine Art Prints: Printing

Making Fine Art Prints: Printing

I think we’ve covered the bases for general preparations, so now it’s time to start making that print! This is really the first step in producing a fine art print, but it’s not any more or less important than the other steps. If I could give just one piece of advice in this article, it would be to make the final print at the highest quality humanly possible.

Before we jump in, I should make my own printing situation very clear so there are no misconceptions. I use a local professional printer to produce my digital prints: Oscar Medina of San Diego Pictures. He’s the real brains behind the whole printing thing, and he provides me with a top notch service. I don’t handle any of the technical aspects of printing — I just bring him the files and give him the thumbs-up to press the go-button. So any technical information I provide here may be somewhat or completely wrong. As for darkroom prints… I do those myself, so I can speak to it with more confidence.

And again, we’re just skimming the surface of this topic in this article — please ask specific questions and discuss technical stuff in the comments below.

The following tips mostly apply to digital printing rather than traditional darkroom printing.

PREPPING YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS

Fine art photos are all about “high quality” — and that starts before you even see the image. Make sure that you’re shooting at the highest quality available with your equipment. Shoot RAW, AdobeRGB, no downsizing, no compression, etc. Use high quality glass if you can, and avoid camera shake by shooting at a fast enough shutter speed, etc, etc.

When you process the image, workflow is important. Use 16-bit color depth and a high quality color space (I use AdobeRGB for color and Gray Gamma 2.2 for b/w). Watch your histograms while processing, and don’t let your colors, blacks, or whites jump off the scale — you’ll be throwing away good information. Obviously, make the photo look how you want, but don’t go crazy on the adjustments if you’re trying for a “natural” photo.

Calibrate your monitor so that you see a true representation of your image as you process it. Whether you print yourself or if you have somebody else do it for you, the printer will assume that your photo was processed with a properly calibrated monitor. When I take my digital files to Oscar, they look perfect on his monitor and they look perfect when they come out of the printer. We both use a color managed workflow [pdf 4.5MB].

My typical image prep involves processing RAW files via Adobe Camera Raw (same thing as Lightroom), and occasionally some Photoshop work if needed. I’ll work with the colors, highlights, shadows, and midtone contrasts to get the image looking the way I want. I also put on a very small amount of sharpening and noise correction — just enough to make any artifacts go away.

In the last article, Andrew Ferguson asked “I don’t know what needs to be done to prepare them for print, workflow wise. I’m reasonably sure I need to convert to CMYK, but I don’t know how else to optimize my files (both b&w and colour) to ensure that what I see on the monitor is what I see on the final print.

Maybe we can touch on this more in the comments, but I always shoot, process, and print using AdobeRGB for color images (I process and print black and white images with gray gamma 2.2). From what I understand, printers will do their own conversion from RGB to CMYK or grayscale. The important thing is to have a calibrated monitor and a calibrated printer — I know Oscar spends a good deal of time keeping up with this stuff to ensure that what we see on his screen is what we see coming out of the printer.

I could probably go on and on about this stuff in more detail, but we need to talk about other things! Chat-it-up in the comments.

PRINTER, PAPER, AND INK

After your digital file is prepped, you’ll need to decide on a printer. There are so many different types of printers and inks out there, I’m not even going to try speaking to the technical side of this. Just do your homework and find a system or method that suits your artistic needs. Chances are, you’ll either have your own printer or you’ll need to find a printing service (including PODs) or a local professional with the right equipment. With the current technology, any professional printer should be using top-notch equipment capable of producing archival prints ready for any gallery wall.

Paper, on the other hand, is more of the artist’s decision than the printer or the ink. There are a lot of different papers out there, and each of them has a unique visual quality suited for different applications. You’ll need to decide between gloss, semi-gloss, matte, metallic, canvas, watercolor, and other fine art papers with varying textures and colors. Even with all the choices available, keep the quality and archival life in mind — fine art prints are supposed to last a long time. Oscar actually has a book of the same image printed on various papers so you can see the different effects and outcomes. This is super-handy when deciding on papers!

I usually go for the glossy paper because I like my prints shiny, but it’s an easy paper to damage and scratch. I’m considering trying out a few canvas prints at the suggestion of Oscar… I just need to find the right photos for it.

SIZING, SHARPENING, AND NOISE REDUCTION

Print size is a big decision — don’t underestimate it! If you want to go really big, you’ll need the pixels to back it up. As a rule of thumb, I try to keep my stuff above 100 pixels per inch. So a 12MP digital photo can be printed up to about 20″ x 30″ without a huge loss of quality.

065 (lms)
Creative Commons License photo credit: heather

Once you get at or below 150 pixels per inch, you’ll want to consider upsizing the image on the computer so you can get a better quality on the printer. So for that same 12MP photo, once I go above 20″ wide on the long dimension I’ll probably resize the image to larger dimensions to avoid printing artifacts. This can be done with Photoshop (or other post processing software), but something like Genuine Fractals will do a better job for you.

If you need to up-res your photo in order to print at the size you require, it’s best to do your sharpening and noise reduction at the very end. If you’re printing from the original (not resized) photo, just make sure to apply these things at the very end of your processing. And don’t go overboard… make sure you view your digital file at 100% before finalizing the sharpening settings. Over-sharpening will definitely show up on the print.

[UPDATE] Gary Crabbe left a good comment below: it might be a bit clearer if it read, “You should *Always* do your output sharpening *After* the image has been (re-)sized to the final output measurements.” I think it might also be good to squeeze in a comment warning of over sharpening, and checking for sharpening artifacts at both “Print Size” and at “Actual Pixels”. Agreed! Thanks Gary!

One last thing on print size — know what size you want to print and WHY you want to print at that size. Take into account things like viewing distance, intended border, where you’ll be signing the print (if at all), how it will be matted and framed, and how you’re planning on transporting the print to the final owner. Most of these things will make more sense to some of you as we proceed through this series — so stay tuned for the next couple of articles.

PRINTING, HANDLING, AND SHIPPING

When you finally get to the point of printing, most of your prep-work should be done. If you’ve done you job right, you shouldn’t have any problems. But no matter how much preparation you’ve done, it’s always a good idea to print a test strip in order to evaluate the quality. Choose a section of your photo that contains critical information such as deep shadows, bright highlights, important colors, or people’s faces. Print that section and make sure everything looks right. If it does, go for it. If it doesn’t, go fix stuff. You’ll save a lot of time and material cost if you work with test strips before making the final print.

After the final print comes rolling off the printer, make sure you handle it like a newborn baby. There’s nothing worse than putting all that effort into a print only to bend it, crease it, or put a fingerprint on an otherwise perfect print. Use lint-free gloves to handle the print. Lay it out on acid-free paper. And don’t force it into any position that it won’t go naturally.

Larger prints can be rolled without damaging them — they can be flattened later. For anything larger than 11×14, I lay them face-down on acid-free paper and roll them into a 2″-3″ tube. Before rolling these prints, be sure that they’ve had time to properly dry so the ink doesn’t smudge. Other than that, use common sense!

When it comes to shipping, be careful how you package things. If the print is fairly small, you can use photo mailers available for 8×10 or 11×14 prints. Anything larger and you’ll probably want to send it in a tube. Even with tubes, some extra precaution should be taken. I actually had a print damaged recently because the Post Office just doesn’t care that you’re sending sensitive material. After talking with Oscar, he mentioned that he likes to roll his prints about 1″ smaller than the diameter of the shipping tube and float it in the center by placing extra packing paper at the ends. So even if the tube gets crushed or bent (which mine did just recently — sorry Mom), the print will likely survive due to that extra buffer of airspace.

FOR THE ANALOG FREAKS

Out of developer
Creative Commons License photo credit: adrenalin

Probably not the most popular topic, but I know at least one or two of you are interested in my darkroom workflow. First of all, I use high quality enlarger lenses and easels. Enlargers are no different than cameras, only opposite — so use good stuff. Also, for signed prints, I use fiber base paper and I tone with selenium for archival longevity. Proper fix and wash are also key in the quality of the print. I don’t have actual data points to back up my suspicions, but I’d expect my darkroom prints to last at least 100 years, probably more.

At any rate: print on fiber, don’t skimp on the fix and wash, and tone your prints. These things take FOREVER to print and finish, but it’s totally worth it. If you analog printers have any specific questions, hit me up in the comments — I could talk for days on this stuff.

SO WHAT DID I MISS?

The topic of printing requires a huge series of article on it’s own, so I’m sure we didn’t cover everything here. If you have specific questions about printing methods, techniques, and theories — do ask!!! I spoke with Oscar (my professional printer and fellow artist) about this article and asked him to chime in on the technical stuff. He’s more than willing to answer our questions and take part in the discussion. This guy is a fountain of knowledge on the topic, so don’t pass up the opportunity to tap into him!

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
BACK — PREPARING
NEXT — SIGNING

Link Roundup 11-22-2008

This week was pretty busy, lots of new things to read out there. Here are some that caught my eye.

  • Geotagging with the Photofinder Mini
    PhotoNetCast
    This week on PhotoNetCast we talk with a couple of guys from ATP Electronics about their new geotagger. We’re also giving away a complete geotagging unit (worth $150!) plus a handful of SD memory cards.
  • Two Ways To Get Background Circles
    DIYPhotography.net
    Udi gives us the scoop on how to create interesting backgrounds using some simple lighting equipment.
  • 45 Beautiful Motion Blur Photos
    Smashing Magazine
    A great collection of photos exhibiting various motion blur effects. Awesome inspiration.
  • Creating black and white cutouts
    Photodoto
    John brings us a nice screencast on how to create black and white photos with color cutouts — he goes over two methods plus a combination of the two methods in his examples.
  • Printing Basics
    Beyond Megapixels
    A good overview on printing photos from formats, to finish, and mounting.
  • LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
    Google
    Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.
  • 5 Tips for super macro photography
    Random Equations
    Want to go beyond macro photography? This article lays out the equipment needed and some important tips for setting up your shots.
  • Wear Good Shoes: Advice to young photographers
    Magnum Blog
    If you want some advice from seasoned photographers, this article features tips from 35 experts.
  • Luring your Child into the World of Photography!
    Photojojo
    Introducing kids to photography is such an awesome thing. Here are some tips including which cameras to use, how to handle the camera, what to teach them, and how to teach them.
  • 10 Astounding Astrophotos by Phil Hart
    digital Photography School
    Examples of astro-photography done right! Here are some great photos to check out.
  • The nuts and bolts of off-camera flash
    F/1.0
    Here’s a collection of 4 articles covering the topic of off-camera flash. I’ve read through them all as they were published, and they’re very much worth a read.

A Closer Look at “Limited Editions”

Self Portrait (Magnify)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kapungo

Wow, I didn’t expect such a heated conversation to spring from the previous article titled “What Exactly is a Limited Edition Print?“. In that article, I pulled information from my own experiences and learnings to offer up a definition of “Limited Edition” as it pertains to fine art photography today.

Several of the readers offered up their own interpretations and some disputed my explanations. These comments and questions caused me to dig deeper and deeper until I came to the conclusion that a follow-up article was needed. So just as with the previous article, this article is an open discussion. Below you will find new information and perspectives on this topic of limited edition photography.

One commentator really got into the discussion and forced me to rethink some things. The entire discussion is worth a read on the previous article, but here are some key points made by Janne.

Any “Limited edition print” which isn’t actually _limited_ is basically fraud in my view. That includes doing more copies of the same image that aren’t signed; whether different size or not signed is beside the point; just call it “signed edition” or “signed print” if you want to be honest. And “limited” does imply a _small_ number of prints; below a thousand, certainly. Destroying the negative afterwards sounds like a good idea – that is the order of the day for other media that produce limited prints after all (stones are broken; copper plates repolished)

I mean, according to those definitions above there is actually nothing limiting any of you. You can run off numbered prints under your direct supervision in the millions; just rent some time on a newspaper press. And if that is not enough you seem to argue that a slight size difference, or a somewhat different crop, or just not put your signature on it makes it suddenly “not count”.

There’s two points to having a limited print: one is that the buyer knows there really is a _limited_ number of images out there. The other is the concept of the artist actually limiting themselves, and not selling all they could do, in preference of creating a smaller number of pieces with individuality.

(via email) Thinking about it one more time, what I’m really objecting to is simply the language. “limited print” has a pretty specific meaning in other graphical arts; what you want to do is completely legitimate and valuable, but uses a different term. It is needlessly confusing to appropiate a term in a neighbouring field and changing its intended meaning. People may legitimately become confused about what you mean, and feel they have been deceived as a result of this.

I’m really grateful for the discussions held with Janne, and I always enjoy academic arguments that cause me to learn new things a see new perspectives.

THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE

Courtroom One Gavel
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joe Gratz

Niels Henriksen brought up the fact that there are several US states which have legal definitions of limited edition prints.

If I remember correctly within the USA there are legal rules to define what is constitutes and limited edition print. While I don’t have the ruling in front of me, I should try and dig it up again, Limited edition prints means that the artists will only produce x number of prints. They do not need to be signed or numbered, but this is ordinarily the practice. Therefore you would not able to sign and number x prints and then sell more unsigned if I am correct. There is provision when producing limited edition prints to have a very small number that will be used a promo pieces and they are identified as such. As a follow up, there are 14 states, I don’t know which ones that have legal definitions of limited edition prints.

I dug around a little more and I saw this reference to the 14 states with legal definitions, but the articles were outdated and links were broken. I have yet to see this actual source, but I’m sure something along these lines exists.

I’m no lawyer and I have a terrible time trying to navigate the law books. If there are any law savvy readers out there, I’m sure we’d all appreciate some clarification or reference to these things.

So bottom line: if you live in a state that clearly defines the term “Limited Edition” with regards to artistic prints, that’s going to be your guide. I’ll post more on this if I ever get my hands on the references to the state laws.

THE DEFINITION PERSPECTIVE

One thing that became apparent during the conversations in the previous post was that some of us were arguing about the language being used rather than the intent. So let’s take a look at the terms “limited” and “edition” in hopes that we can gain some insight.

LIMITED indicates something that is small in range or scope. This one is pretty straight forward, just meaning that there is a finite number of things in question.

EDITION refers to a collection of prints from the same original and usually printed at the same time. So if you print 50 images all at once, those 50 images are part of the same edition. If you print 30 more at a later time (and maybe at a different size or on a different medium) that would be considered another edition not part of the first edition. Wikipedia for more information.

So when we combine “Limited” and “Edition” it implies that a small set number of prints were made from the original at the same time and of the same size, implying that no further prints will be produced.

THE HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE

Untitled (Holocaust Child), Drypoint Plate
Creative Commons License photo credit: ratpat13

Limited editions are a byproduct of historic printmaking techniques. Prior to modern photography, artists were limited to a range of printmaking techniques to create multiple reproductions of an art piece. These techniques typically included a plate of some sort that was used to create impressions on the final medium (and most of these techniques are still used today for creating prints). These plates were physically incapable of lasting indefinitely and many were only capable of producing a small number of prints before deteriorating past a usable state. The prints derived from these plates were also usually created at the same time because of the process involved to do so — it just wasn’t as feasible to create one at a time based on demand.

And so limited editions were not a marketing ploy to impose scarcity or something that the artist chose to do. It was a burden of necessity based on the technology. The artist would make their prints, number them, and possibly sign them. And that was the end of that.

Here is just one type of printmaking that uses acid to etch a copper plate.

THE MODERN PERSPECTIVE

Is that a negative?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stitch

As technology advanced, so did art. There came a point when printmaking techniques were no longer physically limiting on the number of prints that could be derived from an original — specifically with photography (especially with digital photography).

As the technology allowed for near infinite reproduction of prints, artists began to impose limits on their works as a means of creating scarcity and increasing value. Numbering the multiples provides an indication of scarcity and signatures have become a typical means of identifying the origin of the work while implying that the print is truly from the artist.

So in the most strict sense of the term “Limited Edition” as it applies to fine art photography, prints would need to be produced as an edition (all at once) and no further prints would be produced. To ensure this limit is maintained, the original should probably be destroyed.

Digital technology only clouds the topic because exact replicas of the original can be produced with very little effort. Even scaled digital reproductions of the original bring question as to whether a print derived from that image can truly be called a limited edition. If I print a 3×5 from one of my Flickr photos that was run as a limited edition, did I just create a second edition? And does that break the promise of the first edition?

MY PERSPECTIVE

Brian Auer
Creative Commons License photo credit: auer1816

I truly don’t care if what I’m producing is called a “Limited Edition”, a “Signed Print”, a “Limited Signed Print”, a “Special Edition”, etc. The implications of the formal terminology aren’t what interests me, so much as the intent of the works I’m creating. Niels Henriksen also made a statement to this that really makes sense to me.

I believe as an artist, unless there are legal definitions within your jurisdiction, it is important to clearly define your use of limited editions and any other prints runs you might be making for different sizes, posts cards, unsigned etc.

In order to avoid confusion or disputes with potential buyers, I’ll have to be more careful about the terminology I used to describe my artwork. Clearly, in the digital age things are not so cut and dry as they once were. Again, Janne provided some useful insights to this.

(via email) In a larger context, of course, the whole idea of a “limited print” is a rather bad fit for this medium, as you point out in a later reply.
Doing a limited print run is simply trying to create an artificial scarcity, and it’s not clear that anybody at all stands to benefit. I have seen the idea floated of an “artistic back catalogue”, where visual artists simply keep their images available, running new prints according to demand, in much the same way as musicians today can keep their entire back catalogue available for the occasional buyer, and as we can (though regrettably still do not) keep books similarly available on a permanent basis.

Trying to go the “expensive and rare” route with copyable media greatly risks backlash, with many potential customers electing to either do an illegal copy, or just search the net for a free image of the subject they’re interested in. Most buyers of prints are after all as interested in the subject matter as in that specific image and composition, and there isn’t a notable spot on the planet today not well represented by photographs of every caliber, many legally available for free.

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Once again, I call on the rest of you to offer up your thoughts on this topic. I’m particularly interested in continuing the discussion about “Limited Editions”, but I’m also curious about how modern photographic printmaking should be handled by today’s artists and how they should label their work. And yet again, I use the words from Janne to get this discussion started.

(via email) It may simply be that regardless of any definition of “limited”, the viable business approach for most photographers is the same as for musicians, graphical designers and other such groups: If you can’t vault into superstardom, your best bet is to create a full body of work and make it available easily and inexpensively. Then rely on the accumulated orders over the entire catalogue and on the secondary services you can offer to create a steady income; rather than trying to create a few breakaway hits.

What Exactly is a “Limited Edition” Print?

And Gone....
Creative Commons License photo credit: SuLeS

UPDATE: As a result of the discussions from this post, I’ve written a follow-up article that addresses more perspectives on this topic. Please visit A Closer Look at Limited Editions for further reading.

A few posts back, I mentioned that I put one of my “limited edition” prints up for auction on eBay. In the comments of this post, Stephen Gray asked a very good question:

One thing that always confuses me, however, is the use of the term “limited” or “limited edition” in the digital age. There’s really no actual limiting factor when dealing with digital photos and printing. I mean, even a good negative can be scanned and then reproduced in large numbers. So how do we as photographers define this? What are our responsibilities or requirements when using such terms? (I’ll be honest, not understand this–along with a severe lack of time due to a show I’m currently working on–was a big factor that kept me from submitting to the recent Fine Art Photoblog call for entries.)

As a consumer, if I’m buying something that’s touted as “limited”, then it comes with the expectation that what I’m buying will remain scarce. After 30, you’ll not sell this photo again or is there some other caveat involved?

To be honest, I was asking the same types of questions only a few months ago. Lucky for me, I work with highly talented individuals on the Fine Art Photoblog who could lend me some pointers on the topic. And to be perfectly clear, the material in this article is based on opinion and personal experience. I don’t believe there exists an official handbook or set of rules for “limited edition” photos. Take it with a grain of salt and offer up your own thoughts if your opinion is different.

And no, the photos shown on this post aren’t necessarily limited edition prints — they’re just “prints” of some sort.

WIKIPEDIA’S DEFINITION

Frosty Triptych
Creative Commons License photo credit: kiddharma

Let’s start with the formal source and see what the Wikipedia has to say about the topic of Limited Editions. Here’s an excerpt from the topic of the Special Edition as it relates to the artistic medium.

Limited editions have been standard in printmaking from the nineteenth century onwards. There is a genuine need for the concept here, as many traditional printmaking techniques can only produce a limited number of top-quality impressions, as copies of prints are known. This can be as few as ten or twenty for a technique like drypoint, but more commonly would be in the hundreds or thousands. But here as in other fields, the use of the concept has become largely driven by marketing imperatives, and has been misused in parts of the market. In particular, lithographic, photogravure, rotogravure, and computer reproductions of prints, derived from photographs of an original print, which are most unlikely to have any investment value, are often issued in limited editions implying that they will have such value. These need to be distinguished from the original artist’s print, carefully produced directly from his work in whatever the printmaking medium is, and printed under his supervision.

So to sum that up: driven by marketing imperatives, produced directly from the artist’s work (film or digital file), and produced under the supervision of the artist or directly by the artist.

CODY REDMON’S DEFINITION

Fingerprint 3
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mr Jaded

Cody offered up his definition of Limited Editions to me first when I posed the question. You can catch Cody at the Fine Art Photoblog or on his personal photography blog.

I treat mine differently than some people, but there’s no definitive way to do this. I sell my prints at whatever size the customer wants and it counts as 1-of-X in the edition length…as long as it’s signed and numbered. I don’t usually go below 12×18″ for mine, but it’s up to you. Anything purchased that does not have my signature is not considered part of the limited edition, but some folks believe that only producing a set number is what creates the value of the print. Ansel Adams’ estate would argue against this point, though, as you can go buy poster prints of his work for a couple hundred dollars, but his originals or prints from his negatives usually start about $10K. So, I sell ‘art’ pieces, and I sell ‘signed’ pieces…the signed ones are what matter to me…the others are for hobbyists and over-the-couchers.

So to sum that up: any size counts as part of the limited edition, must be signed and numbered, and reproductions are okay too and don’t detract from the value of the limited edition.

JOSEPH SZYMANSKI’S DEFINITION

080220_1041
Creative Commons License photo credit: taivasalla

Joseph followed up comments with some of his own thoughts on the topic. You can catch Joseph at the Fine Art Photoblog or at his personal photography blog.

Again, like Cody said, there are a lot of interpretations of this. I’ve known a lot of people that do editions in one size only and that’s all they print, others that do a limited edition in one size and print others indefinitely, and those that do editions in all sizes, as in 50 in 11×14, 50 in 16×20 and so on. There is also a school of thought that believes that after the edition is printed the negative (or the digital file as it were) should be destroyed. If you ask me, thats ludicrous.

So to sum that up: there are a lot of interpretations of this topic and many are acceptable, and destroying the original negative or digital file after the limited edition is over is not necessary.

BRIAN AUER’S DEFINITION

screen printed greeting cards
Creative Commons License photo credit: ‘smil

Since doing my original research on this topic, I’ve come to define the idea of Limited Editions to suit my own needs. You can also catch me at the Fine Art Photoblog or at the PhotoNetCast.

I think I have to agree with both Cody and Joe in their thoughts on this. I consider a limited edition print to require a signature and number at a minimum. The print should be produced directly by the artist, or under direct supervision of the artist (such as working with a professional print maker). Any size is okay with me (but no smaller than 12″ at the longest dimension), and any size counts as part of the same limited edition. Reprints, such as those from ImageKind, are perfectly fine during or after the limited edition and they shouldn’t devalue the signed prints. Limited edition prints are collectible pieces of art and their value should increase over time.

So to sum that up: need a signature and number, produced by the artist, sizes don’t matter much, and reprints are okay.

SO TO SUM THAT UP…

Like I said before, there are no hard set rules on this topic. But after doing a little research and talking with some experienced photographers/artists, I think we can say the following about Limited Edition prints:

  • Produced directly from the artist’s original work (film or file).
  • Produced directly by the artist or under direct supervision.
  • Limited to some pre-defined number of prints.
  • Signed and numbered (X of N) by the artist.
  • Sizing of prints is up to the artist.
  • Unsigned reprints are acceptable and don’t devalue the limited edition.
  • The original work doesn’t need to be destroyed at the end.
  • WHAT ELSE?

What other rules or guidelines do you have for Limited Edition prints? Do you disagree with anything here? Have you found other resources that address this topic? Leave some comments and discuss!

UPDATE: As a result of the discussions from this post, I’ve written a follow-up article that addresses more perspectives on this topic. Please visit A Closer Look at Limited Editions for further reading.

Print From Home or Print On Demand?

papel continuo powa!
Creative Commons License photo credit: *manci*

I’ve mentioned a few times that I use ImageKind to sell unsigned reprints of my photos. But I also use their service to print things for myself. I can get larger prints (I typically only buy 16″ prints for my portfolio and wall hangings) at a much higher quality (and on an exceptional choice of papers) for a decent price. In the past, I’ve printed using my own inkjet printer at home. This is fine for the small stuff like photo albums, but the quality isn’t there at the larger sizes unless you spend a pretty penny on the equipment.

So my question this week is aimed at your printing habits. For the personal stuff that’s larger than 4×6 prints, do you print yourself or do you use an online print on demand service (POD)? Or maybe you have a local POD service? I guess I should also mention that I’m talking about digital printing. Cast your vote and leave a comment on the specifics — printer models for the DIY-ers, websites for the online POD-ers, or business names for the offline POD-ers.

{democracy:48}

And check out the last poll (or vote if you missed it) having to do with our next project here on the blog. It looks like it could be a toss-up because there were quite a few compelling comments too. Once we finish reviewing the Fine Art Photoblog portfolios and announce the winner, I’ll probably have the time to organize the project… plus I’m waiting to hear from a potential sponsor on one of them.

Find Yourself a Local Printer

When it comes to printing, there’s a HUGE difference between producing something on a cheapie inkjet printer and having a professional print your photo on a sophisticated piece of equipment. Don’t get me wrong, printing your own photos is fine and dandy for the family photo albums and whatnot. But when you want to hang something on the wall (especially if it’s somebody else’s wall), there’s nothing better than working with a professional to produce exactly what you want.

Print Room LIght
Creative Commons License photo credit: jhhymas

Some weeks ago, I needed to print a photo that was destined to be signed and shipped off. I found a local printer, went over to his place, and spent about an hour or two preparing and printing the image. I’ve purchased my own prints from places like ImageKind in the past, but that doesn’t even come close to the experience and quality you’ll get from sitting down next to the person printing your photo and working through the details.

We talked about the different papers he had to offer, looked at sample prints on each medium, popped open the image on his computer, sized it with Genuine Fractals, and put the finishing touches on the noise and sharpness. When we were ready to print, we ran a test strip just to make sure that everything looked perfect. Once I was happy with the outcome, we ran the entire image. The little white gloves went on, the photo was trimmed, dried, rolled, and packaged.

In the end, I walked away with a much higher quality image than I could have gotten from any online shop, and it didn’t cost me any more than I would have otherwise paid. The actual print was a little more expensive, but it balanced out with the fact that I didn’t have to pay for shipping (or wait for it). So if you’re considering having some of your work printed for display and showcase, I’d suggest you find yourself a local printer who you can visit in person and work with.

I’ve chosen to go with Oscar Medina from San Diego Photos and Prints. Oscar is a photographer and artist who purchased his own printers because he wanted that extra level of control. Since he doesn’t use the printers 100% of the time, he opens up his services to local artists in need of fine art prints and giclee reproductions. His prices are fair, and he definitely knows what he’s doing with the hardware and software. If you live in the San Diego area, I’d suggest you give him a try — you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t, you can still give him a try — he’ll ship orders too… you just won’t get the one-on-one interaction with him.

What’s your experience with professional printing? Can anybody else out there relate to what I’m saying?