Many artists are coming to understand the potential of the additional revenue potential in art reproduction. Once the original is gone, the buck stops there; there is no opportunity to generate income for the piece. Fine art printing has been around for centuries. It started with engraving copper plates (and other alloys) and creating a limited edition. Artists such as Max Klinger were true masters. The few prints that remain are valued at tens of thousands of dollars. There are many ways to reproduce art. the most common has been lithography. Plates are generated, covered with dyes and the inks are transferred to paper.
In the last 20 years a revolutionary technology has emerged with the advent of professional large format inkjet printers. The process to make high quality reproductions is commonly known as giclee.
These are some of the characteristics of giclee printing:
Setup is much cheaper for giclee than producing offset for litho printing (no plates need to be generated).
Quality is better than press both in resolution and color range.
Did you know giclee printing offers a much wider color gamut than traditional presses? abstract art prints limited edition
Much more variety of papers such as canvas and watercolor than press as giclee printing is not as fussy with substrates.
Different sizes can be printed on demand to accommodate the market.
While the latest Giclee printers use 6 or more colors, traditional printing is 4 colors: a lot of the pigments artists choose simply cannot be reproduced. The gamut (Range of colors reproduced) is higher with giclees. Manufacturers added extra pigments such as light cyan, light magenta, to increase chromatic rendition.
Regarding pigments, make sure that your giclee provider uses pigments and not dyes for printing. This is an essential component to insure lasting reproductions. Every printer has different characteristics: A measure of DPI (dots per inch) is often overrated as to the only measure of quality. There are 300 DPI professional machines capable of rendering artwork of a much higher quality than a consumer level printer rated at 720 or 1,440 DPI.
Ultimately, even with all the math and gamut graphs available, the true test is to observe a giclee next to the original. Use a lupe if one is available to discern any dot pattern.
One caveat: although giclee is vastly superior to offset, the limitation is the per unit cost and if tens of thousands of prints need to be made, lithography is much cheaper.
What many artists do is to create a limited edition giclee run and then mass produce posters on paper with lithography.