Digital Fine Art Printmaking
Years ago, I taught classes in fine art printmaking (etching, stone lithography, etc.) in which I would rant about frame shop galleries selling photo offset reproductions as limited edition prints.
The only “limited” part was the limited involvement by the artist. Sometimes blank sheets of paper were signed or signatures were just part of the print. These photo reproductions had the tangible value of a placemat. Which is fine as long as you pay for a poster not a work of art.
Grinding a litho stone, creating a drawing, and cranking out an edition of prints is still a cool thing (right up there with pulling Raku pots out of the fire). But now I'm interested in how this history impacts the digital artist.
Today we have some great options in digital fine art printing. The most common fine art digital print is a giclée. It's a generic term for a very high quality ink jet print with archival properties. (Coined in 1991, giclée means “nozzle” or spray.)
To gain some additional perspective, I recently interviewed David Casper, a photographer with a decade-long history of digital printmaking.
For an artist working in digital media, what are the challenges in producing a high quality fine art print?
Dave: “Getting consistent results from print to print is one of the biggest challenges in producing my fine art prints. It's very important to have the 50th look the same as the 1st. This is especially hard when you print them only on demand, which is what I do. I keep my first print as a point of comparison, kind of an artist’s proof.”
How important is the archival issue?
Dave: “The paper for my work must be 100% acid free rag (cotton) and the ink must conform to very high archival standards. But really, what is relevant time to define archival? Is 50 years acceptable? Is 300 years acceptable? We just do the best we can.”Continued on the next page