Technical and Creative Know How: You need a printmaker with the technical knowledge to make a great giclee combined with the artistic sensibility to understand the needs of the artist. Anyone can buy a printer and start up a giclee business. A self proclaimed printmaker may understand you as an artist, but they probably do not have all of the technical skills necessary to produce a good giclee consistently from order to order year after year. These printmakers often have lower prices, but they also have limited expertise and resources. Their quality may suffer because they don’t have the knowledge that an established printmaker has or the money to buy the best scanning and calibration equipment. It is also common for these types of printers to suddenly go out of business.
Quality and Dependability: When choosing a printing company, it is always best to go with a reputable digital fine art printmaker who has a proven record of quality and dependability. Make sure you are printing with a reliable company that makes prints for a living. If not, there is a good chance that when you go to reorder prints it may not go as smoothly as you would like. The printer may not be around anymore or their printer could be broken. You are at the mercy of a one man operation. When choosing a giclee printing outfit that offers giclees to clients as a business model, chances are they will be around when you go to reorder. An established printing studio can offer you the security of knowing that you can return year after year and maintain a level of consistency that guarantees the last giclee of an edition matches the first, even over a period of years.
Specialization: We also encourage artists to beware of large commercial or non-specialized printing outfits that offer giclee printing. One of the best examples would be “sign shops”. They advertise that they produce giclees just because they have some of the equipment. While these places do have expensive equipment and the technical experience to run it, they don’t always have the sensitivity needed to make fine art prints. These places will most often treat your work like they would their commercial graphics jobs. This means “ballpark” corrections with little or no attention paid to the detail and the subtle nuances of your work. It takes years of color correction skill development and in-depth knowledge of the proper materials to make fine art archival prints and giclees.
Location: While location is important one should not let this guide your decision of who to work with. There are only 10-15 reliable specialized giclee printmakers across the US. The chances that you have one of these specialized giclee printing outfits in you backyard is low. It is not that hard to ship and proof remotely. Don’t discount a company because they are not in your town. You are probably missing out on quality if you make your decision on location.
Materials: Make sure the studio that you choose to do your giclee printing is using the best, most archival materials. At least make sure the inks are pigment and the papers are acid free.
WARNING: Not all printmakers are going to be capable of offering you identical giclees from order to order. It is usually a specialized printmaker that offers limited edition printmaking. This is because all printers, papers, and inks must be exactly the same and the prints must be made under the exact same conditions to keep color consistent in your prints. You cannot expect this from all printmakers. Only specialized printmakers like Old Town Editions color manage their work flow so that all giclees look identical to the first. We make sure that all files are printed on the same printers they were originally prepared for, with the same inks and under the same settings, year after year.
These are all important things to think about when choosing a printmaker or giclee printing company.