Monday, September 7, 2009


The process of turning my paintings and drawings into prints is proving to be a longer one than I'd anticipated, but it's an interesting learning experience nevertheless.

This is the first of my recent art works which I've chosen to have professionally photographed and scanned with the intention of marketing limited-edition prints. With such a narrow range of colours in this drawing, it's approaching the final saleable image fresh from the camera. Even so, there is still a process of to-ing and fro-ing to go through over the next week or so as my chosen digital imaging company colour-corrects and compares a series of proofs with the original drawing. Despite all the technological aids at their disposal, this is still largely reliant on a visual comparison. The more highly-coloured works undergoing the same process are much further off the mark at the first proofing stage and will require more significant adjustment.

After this morning's visit, I now have a greater understanding of the process and I anticipate several more trips to their premises before I'm happy with the results. In much the same way that there's some purely subjective point at which a painting is declared "finished", it will be a matter of judging when the digital images are close enough to the originals that further tweaking can't be justified.

Interestingly, the proprietor remarked that some artists choose to make major adjustments at this stage; the contrast or colour saturation in the digital image might be modified to differ markedly from the original, or the artist may even favour a totally different colour bias. Regardless of what's possible in theory, I'd like my prints to be as close a representation of the original as I can manage - I feel that to do otherwise would be verging on dishonesty. Or am I missing something? What do you think?



Candace X. Moore said...

IMO you are entitled to modify your piece at any point in the process, if you feel the resulting image better conveys your message. One could argue that this begins when you “copy” a natural scene through photography, cropping in just the elements you like. Then you copy that photo by hand, using a second medium, selectively changing values, colors, edges. You then “copy” that hand rendering during mass production. Aren’t there changes at every step? It’s your creation, aren’t all changes part of the artistic process?

In an early art class, someone asked if it was right to use a ruler to draw a straight line in a fine art drawing. My opinion was that a ruler was fair game. Of course, a straight line drawn by hand is much more interesting than a ruler-drawn line, but that’s an aesthetic decision by the artist.

Hope I didn't exceed my word count. Very thought-provoking.

PS. I went through your Picasa album. Wow, some really nice work. Love the rocks and water, tremendous energy and interest there.

Peter Brown said...

Candace, there's no word count limit as far as I'm concerned and I'm pleased that you've seen fit to respond.

I have no problem using whatever means are available in order to create the best art work possible. I was looking at the issue from the perspective of a customer who has opted to purchase a print. In doing so, I think it's perfectly reasonable for them to assume they've purchased a facsimile of the original. However, if it's made abundantly clear at the time of purchase that this isn't the case then I would tend to think I've fulfilled my obligation to them.

Tracey Clarke said...

Peter, this whole process is really overwhelming to me. I have just begun to look into prints.
It is great to read about your experiences here.

I don't see any problem. But if someone sees the original, say, online, and buy a print they may be shocked at any differences. I guess, make that clear up front, as you say.

Peter Brown said...

Tracey, thanks for your comments. I guess I naively thought that producing prints would be a simple process, but it's actually an inexact science - and a time-consuming one - despite all the available technology.

Anonymous said...

Cracking work Peter!

Regarding the printing process I like to have it very close to the original too, but sometimes find that canvas prints need to have the blacks punched up at the print company just to match the original artwork.

Peter Brown said...

Hi Jason, thanks for stopping by!

Gary Keimig said...

That can be a real dilema, Peter. I'm not sure you can ever get perfect results in matching prints to the original. I have done 4 giclee prints and have been amazed at how true to form they really are but I know the jury is still out on archive quality of them. I have had prints done of my art and at times have had other entities do prints of my work and some of them have come out with horrible results and to think they thought they were O K Ahh! I certainly, from this experience, demand that I have control over that . Even so I have never seen a perfect match. Very expensive printing options I am sure are out there that could give you that??
Good luck on it though. Will be interesting to see how marketing goes once you have them ready for such. Do you have any ideas on that? I know it opens up another whole world to the artist.

Peter Brown said...

Gary, the photography/print company collaborate with me at all stages so although I've left the colour-matching to them, I will have the final say as to what's acceptable. It's still a judgement call though and I'll have to accept that the prints won't be an exact match. From the little I know, it's not the printing process that's the problem, but matching the digital image to the original by eye.

My thoughts on marketing online change daily as I read others' ideas on the subject. There's a strong suggestion that although prints might sell from a web site, buyers are reluctant to risk much larger amounts buying originals effectively "sight unseen". I may yet have to resort to a gallery to sell the originals, but I'll persist for a while yet.

As I mentioned somewhere on my blog, Google Adwords is one of the most effective tools for generating traffic to a web site and I'll implement it soon. I'll post a before/after comparison of traffic as soon as I have meaningful results.

April Jarocka said...

All the best with the prints.
I've posted again, but same old problems I see with blogger. I am posting away Peter, honestly!!

Peter Brown said...

April, good to see you're still blogging away despite my blog list telling me you've gone missing - you must have upset the blog fairy at some point. If it's any comfort, I noticed the same problem with someone else's blog and it eventually corrected itself.

April Jarocka said...

Blog fairy indeedy. I must leave out a tray of sugared plums for her and see if she'll fix the problem.

Gary Keimig said...

Hopefully you are becoming an expert in the print world, Peter.
I was just given the Kreativ Blogger award by one of our art blogger friends and am to pass it on to several other artists so if you'll come over to my site it is waitin'for you.

Peter Brown said...

Well thanks Gary! Put the kettle on - I'm heading your way!