Thursday, August 15, 2013

Preparing for a gallery exhibit, part 3: printing and cost

As I mentioned earlier, a consideration I made when deciding on which images to show at the exhibit was the potential to sell. I may be way off the mark on some of the choices I made, but I tried to come up with several images that could best represent my work on Biscayne Bay.

So with that, I knew that I would have to lay some serious money down to get all my gallery images ready for hanging. I was fortunate to have found a fine art print shop in Miami (and only a short distance drive). The shop, Prints Giclee Shop is run by print professionals that are also artists. It's a small operation but they do it all; printing, framing, matting, canvas wrap and accommodate all sizes. During my first visit to the shop, I learned about my options and was given an initial price quote for various print and canvas sizes. Now I had a pretty good idea of what the total cost might run into and this would factor into my decision on print number and sizes and whether or not a print would be framed or wrapped. There are lots of choices that go into the final product, and the combination of choices ultimately determines the cost.

For printing, I decided to go with the more expensive fine art paper vs photographic paper. In my opinion, the type of paper can make or break an image and it also has to do with durability. Concerning frames, I decided to go with relatively inexpensive wood  mold black frames. For some images, I will include matting. Like the paper, I believe the matting can make or break an image, so I will go with quality matting and work with the artists at the print shop in deciding on mat type.

Within my budget and always with the intention of trying to sell each piece, I had to decide on the less costly option of canvas wraps. It works out to be about 20% less than framing a print. I also think canvas wraps are more appealing to some because frame and mat choices can differ individually. For the wraps, I am using 1 1/2" thick frame. You can go with a narrower or thicker width and it affects the cost somewhat. The printers at the shop use a museum-wrap technique whereby the image expands into the sides. This is initially done in Photoshop by either mirror-imaging the edges of the image or using content aware and expanding the image into the sides. Or, a solid color can take its place. Regardless, the entire image will be seen in the front and the sides will just be an expansion of sorts.

The advantage of using a printer in Miami is that I can go to the shop and study the proofs before they go into print. This is the most interesting part of the process for a couple reasons. One, I get to see the image on the fine art paper (I chose to use photometallic for all my prints). This gives the image another quality that is missing from the computer screen. But the best part is I get to work with the artist at the print shop. From the digital image, the printer works with it to enhance it in preparation for printing. This was most evident for those going onto canvas where some of the vibrance gets lost in the print. I can also look at the proof for any tiny flecks of distractions that can be easily removed.

Once proofed, the image goes into production. For the Biscayne gallery, I will have about 30 images on display. That's a large number of prints to sell! So, parallel to the work of getting the pieces ready for hanging, I also had to think about how I set up to sell my prints online or otherwise. For the next entry, I'll talk about the frustrating and expensive world of online photography gallery webhosting.

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