Project – Digital Printing Choices
This was an interesting exercise to do, especially after recently attending the recent Thames Valley Group Meeting where we looked at “Having a Relationship with your Printer”
I’ve used professional printing companies twice before when preparing for an Exhibition. The first time was in 2017 when I used a local printer Surrounds who also do printing for students at UCA Farnham http://www.surrounds-art.co.uk/surrey/printing-services.htm. I had two composite images framed and, as I’d been having problems with my new printer (an A3+ printer but I was repeatedly having black ink splashes on the edges when using A3+ photopaper) I had the two images printed by them. The quote includes the Giclee printing.
I had three of my own photographs professionally printed for the Open Art Collective Exhibition. This time I used The Printspace. https://www.theprintspace.co.uk/art-printing-prices/ . To begin with I ordered a test print of one of them to make sure the colours were correct and there are full instructions on their website for this, including a really helpful video explaining how to go about this . See here https://www.theprintspace.co.uk/guides/theprintspace-test-strips/ . The video is very helpful and having the test strip helped alleviate my anxiety about the whole operation. The test prints cost me a total of £13 – well worth the money . I was also asked to upload the photographs using their own ICC profile for the paper I chose.
Each of the Giclee Epson Semi-Gloss A3+ size prints cost me £18.25 plus £3.65 VAT and delivery of all three cost me £14.39, including VAT for delivery by Overnight Courier. When my printer works it does produce high quality prints, but it was worth paying for professional printing to get excellent quality at a larger size. I’d certainly do this again. All this was achieved online and one thing I would do differently would be to actually visit Printspace to get to know the staff there. I had the framing done by Surrounds though.
The video below explains the range of papers they use
I have obtained three up-to-date online quotes from The Printspace, London; Peak-Imaging, Sheffield (who offer a discount for OCA students) and The Artist’s Print Room, Bridgnorth, who also offer a discount to students.
Peak-Imaging, Sheffield :
Prices include VAT.
C-Type Prints. These can be Satin Matt; Gloss; Fujiflex or Metallic. Satin Matt A3 costs £7.25 for one which then reduces according to multiples. You can select for the prints to be Lab Optimised so that the image can be assessed and corrected if necessary by their technicians. JPEG, PNG and TIFF files can be uploaded although uploading Tiffs is not recommended due to the large size.
Giclee Prints. “Photo” or “Fine Art” papers are used (Hannemuhle) and printed using Ultrachrome HDR aqueous pigment inks. An A3 Print would cost £11.16 on Photo Paper or £13.14 on Fine Art Paper.
Custom sizes can be printed but you need to speak to them on the phone about these.
Their information on Monitor Calibration can be found here https://www.peak-imaging.com/about/monitor.calibration Their information states that calibrating your computer display to their calibration print (which is delivered free within the UK) is an effective way of ensuring that your digital images are printed the way you see them but this is not necessary if you’re happy for them to optimise the image before printing. You order the calibration print online and also download the image filed used to create the calibration print. Once you have both you open the image file in Photoshop, using working colour space of“sRGB” and Adobe Gamma preferably to match your on-screen calibration image with the print. The black (and white) areas on the monitor should match the black (and white) areas on the print, while the greys should be neutral with no discernible colour cast. You can also gain a far more accurate match by using Advanced calibration, i.e. using their Output profiles with their “Guide to Soft Proofing in Photoshop”.
The Printspace, London:
Any size can be printed and the price charged will be for the smallest print size that your print fits into. Sample packs are available. Prices given include VAT.
Giclee Prints. A3 costs £12.96.
C type. FujiCrystal Archive Matte or Gloss costs £9.85; Kodak Metallic £11.86 and Fuji Flex £12.83.
The Artist’s Print Room
I hadn’t heard of this company before which is based in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. They offer a !5% discount for students including printing, retouching and editing also a Free one-hour introductory meeting aimed directly at students including an introduction to Photoshop, colour management, calibration and portfolio printing. They describe themselves as the only professional bespoke giclee printing service in the UK to be accredited by Epson Digigraphie, Hannemuhle, Canson Infinity and Ilford. All prints produced on heavy-weight archival papers or canvas with the use of Epson HDX Ultrachrome archival pigment inks. See the information here.
They don’t have an actual price-list online but state that pricing is from just £7 per print. I filled in a form for an A3 print with an internal border, Matte Finish (Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 310 gsm, with print quality 2880 dpi . The price quoted is £26.82. If any reader has tried them I would love to hear a review. I’ve also put a query out on the OCA Photography FB page.
Can an inkjet be treated as a photograph? Given that home printers can now use archival inks and high quality papers that last for years I agree with the final sentence on page 154 of the Module Handbook – If a photographer has painstakingly produced an inkjet print themselves, using their own printer and creating their own colour profiles, then this should be judged as part of their artistic process.