Technical Page



For years I was asked by friends, collectors, and others about the availability of reproductions of my paintings. It can be quite expensive to have someone reproduce a painting using the photo-lithographic or digital process. Not only is the expense a consideration, the process leaves a lot to be desired in most instances. Ideally the artist should be present during the proofing phase and make suggestions for color corrections on the spot with the printer face to face.

I was an early adopter of the inkjet printer reproduction process now known as
giclée. Harald Johnson honored me by including me in the first edition of his book, Mastering Digital Printing. I was featured in the section on Who's Doing Digital? and was one of 17 other artists Harald selected for the "Gallery Showcase" chapter exhibiting the variety of digital imaging and printing being done at the time.

Giclée

The term giclée originated in 1991 with Jack Duganne, who coined the term to refer to fine art prints created with digital output. It was intended to be a word which would be added to the lexicon of printmaking terms in the vocabulary of fine art printmaking. It's derivation comes from the word "gicleur," the French word for "nozzle." Gicler is the French verb "to spray" (as from a nozzle) and thus the direct object of the "spraying nozzle" would be giclée as most digital printers today use nozzles to direct ink onto a substrate. The main intention of the word giclée was to distinguish "fine art prints" from those created for non-art or commercial purposes.

Early on, most giclées were made with Iris inkjet technology. However, since that time many alternative inkjet technologies are also producing beautiful results. The term Giclée has evolved into a broader term describing a high quality digital print produced from a wide variety of printer manufacturers. (from the International Association of Fine Art Digital Printers - link no longer available)

Since I first started making my reproductions in the year 2000, the giclée process has become ubiquitous in the reproduction printing industry to the point that it has almost totally replaced the photo-lithographic process. The improvements in terms of quality produce a product that is simply vastly superior to offset prints. With the advent of pigmented inksets reasonable longevity has finally been achieved. The ability to reproduce outstanding detail in shadow areas along with a vibrance of color and dynamic range previously unavailable has made the giclée process the only viable option for most artists today.


Printing

I had long dreamed of the possibility of technology someday providing me with the means of doing my own reproductions here at Sleepy Hollow Studio. That day finally arrived in the summer of 2000. Epson introduced their Epson Stylus 2000P printer which for the first time made it economically possible for an artist to consider doing reproductions in the studio. The 2000P was a 6 color, variable droplet, 1440 x 720 dpi, 7 picoliter inkjet printer capable of printing up to Super A3 size (13" x 19" and 13" x 44" in panoramic mode). The most important features of this printer was its use of Epson's new pigmented inksets (having claimed longevity up to 100 years when properly stored and presented*) and its ability to handle ICC/ICM profiles.

I am now using other Epson printers capable of printing up to 24 inches wide.

These printers are not designed to take the place of a general use inkjet printer! They are designed to do archival photographs and fine art reproductions - not word processing. Also, the ink cartridges and media are not inexpensive. Therefore they should not be expected to serve as your only printer.

*
Ink lightfastness ratings are based on accelerated testing of prints on specialty media, displayed indoors, under glass or UV plexiglass. Actual print stability will vary according to media, printed image, display conditions, light intensity, humidity, and atmospheric conditions. Sleepy Hollow Studio does not guarantee longevity of prints. For maximum print life, display all prints under glass, UV plexiglass, lamination or properly store them. See www.wilhelm-research.com for details.

Scanning

Finding a printer was only part of the process. My next hurdle was to find out how to digitize my paintings in order to print them in the first place. Through several email listserves, I was able to contact individuals who were scanning watercolors using traditional flatbed scanners. After many emails, I was finally able to master the process, using Adobe Photoshop. This enables the stitching of several individual scanned images into one single image without the evidence of unsightly seams. Let me say, this was a time consuming and tedious process which could try your patience. With new versions of Photoshop, the Photomerge feature has made the process much easier.

Watercolors are easily handled on a small flatbed scanner, but paintings in other media will probably necessitate contacting a professional photographer or a publisher with a large format scanner. The thing I find appealing about scanning the paintings myself is the fact I have total control over the entire process. I have the originals on hand for comparison and can assure myself that the resulting scans are done correctly. The paintings are scanned at 360 dpi, and the resulting files are edited in Photoshop and archived on CDs.


System Calibration

Another important part of the process is system color calibration. I use custom printer profiles for my reproductions. Some of the profiles I created myself, and others I acquired from third parties.

For monitor calibration, I use the GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display2. I cannot overemphasize how important monitor calibration is to the process.

As for media, I use various Epson papers with excellent results.

These printers are no speed demons. The process of making a print can take quite a while. That doesn't present any problem for me, as I am not printing in large quantities. The real beauty of this system is that it is a print-on-demand process. There is no need for an artist or photographer to do large numbers of prints in advance and then be faced with the problem of storage. I simply print a small inventory to work from, and then when needed, I have another printing session to resupply my inventory until I reach the limits of an edition.

The image quality is extraordinary as far as I'm concerned. Due to the variable droplet technology and small droplet size, the individual dots are virtually indistinguishable even when using an 8x loupe. As for color, I couldn't ask for more. The blacks are as dark as Higgin's Ink, and the colors are vivid and rich.


Present System:

Apple Power Macintosh Pro 8 core

Mac OS 10.6.2

Apple 23" Cinema Display

GretagMacbeth Eye-One Display2

Epson Expression 1600 scanner

Adobe Photoshop CS4


Certificate of Authenticity (For limited edition reproductions only.)

A Certificate of Authenticity accompanies each limited edition reproduction which includes the following disclosure:

1. The name of the artist;

2. The year the plate, negative or digital file was created;

3. The year the reproduction was created;

4. The process used to create the master image;

5. The process used to create the reproduction;

6. Whether the reproduction is part of a limited edition;

7. If a limited edition then the maximum number of numbered or signed reproductions. or both, in the edition;

8. The authorized maximum number of unnumbered or unsigned reproductions, or both, in the edition;

9. Any authorized number of artist's, publisher's, printer's, or other proofs, exclusive of trial proofs, outside the regular edition;

10. The total number of prints, either numbered or unnumbered, in the edition;

11. Whether the plate, negative or digital file has been destroyed, effaced, altered, defaced, or cancelled after the current edition;

12. If there were any prior plates, negatives or digital files of the same master image, the total number of plates, negatives or digital files

and a designation of the plate, negative or digital file from which the reproduction was taken;

13. If there were any prior or later editions from the same plate, negative or digital file, the series number of the edition of which the

reproduction is a part, and the aggregate size of all other editions;

14. Whether the print was published as a book illustration or in a magazine article;

15. Whether the edition is a posthumous edition or a restrike, and, if it is, whether the plate, negative or digital file has been reworked;

16. The name of any workshop where the edition was printed;

17. Whether the print has been printed on acid-free paper.


A few words about Prints and Reproductions

I have tried to make every effort to distinguish my reproductions from what are called original prints. The reproductions I make are just that - reproductions of my original paintings done using the above-mentioned equipment to the best of my ability. I am very proud of my results and highly recommend them to anyone wishing to own a quality reproduction of my paintings. In no way do I wish to imply these reproductions are original prints!

Their value is derived from the fact they are high quality giclée images and are produced in most cases as limited editions. When the editions are complete, there will be no additional same sized images produced. I do, however, reserve the right to create editions in the future, either limited or open, of the same images at larger or smaller physical sizes.

An original print can be defined by different people in many different ways. For me, original prints are defined as etchings, stone lithographs, woodcuts, screen prints, etc.. They are original in the sense that the process used to create them in the first place is integral to their existence. In other words, without the printing process used to create them, they wouldn't exist. The book,
Printmaking Today, by Jules Heller was my first text for a printmaking course at Appalachian State University. In the book, Heller queries: "What is a fine print? It is a multiple-original work of art on paper which comes into direct contact with a stone, plate, wood block, or silk screen that was worked upon by the artist - and which was personally controlled, in many instances, throughout the entire printing of the edition."

Additionally, I would have to place photographs and certain digital images in the original print category whether they are done using standard darkroom techniques or a digital process. The film or digital file acts as the vehicle for the image, much the same as a stone or metal plate in stone lithography and etching. With the recent advancements realized through various technological developments, we must out of necessity, plan to make room for other possible original print processes which will surely make their appearance in the future.