Four companies prove the profits of fine-art printing.
Red Wing has three different types of customers: the custom-framing customer, the fine-art artist, and the “passionate” photographer. “Sometimes the fine-art artists and the photographers also become framing customers as well,” he says. “Fine-art reproduction is a ‘hands-on’ process, so most of the traditional fine-art customers come from within a 200-mile radius. But, sometimes, artists can come from much farther, and then we simply make allowances for their availability and schedules.”
Becker also says fine-art photographers are much more “digital in nature,” so Red Wing can service them from anywhere, which led to the addition of redwingdigital.com.
But no matter where they are, Red Wing prefers to work closely with the customer. “Sometimes an artist will want a particular emphasis within the artwork, and it helps to know what they’re looking for first,” Becker says. “The system is otherwise very straightforward and iterative.”
Becker describes it as a two-step process at his shop: A digital file of the original art is created and then goes through a standard color-correction process. Two different proofs are then printed and Red Wing invites the artist to help edit the files one more time if necessary.
“At that point, the file is ‘frozen’ and available for production on a ‘print on demand’ basis,” Becker says. The final print media can vary depending on the artist’s intent. Fabrics, watercolor paper, canvas, and acrylic prints are the most common choices for the final print media, he reports.
“With any customer, whether it’s an artist or a museum, the important part is setting proper expectations. Expectations must include production time, print results, and costs. I try to identify any color-gamut issues early, based on professional experience and observation, especially with acrylic or oil originals. I make it very clear to my artist customers that there can only be one original piece of art and there might be some color-gamut issues.”
For output, Red Wing uses its two HP Designjet Z6100 printers and two Designjet Z6200 printers; image capture is achieved with its Epson Expression large-format scanners; and finishing tools include the shop’s D&K roll laminators and VacuSeal vacuum mounting presses. The shop produces prints ranging in size from 16 x 24 to 60 x 90 inches.