Fine Art Printmaking

Firstly, I am of the mind that a digital image viewed on a computer display or cell phone cannot compare to one viewed on a form of physical media. This might be anything; a simple 4x6 inch glossy print, an advertisement on the side of a municipal bus, a billboard...

Today there are literally trillions of digital images posted in electronic format. Participants view a digitally presented image on screen for (literally) seconds before moving to the next. (Note: Many of those clicked away from, so arbitrarily, deserve to be... but the conditioning that takes place results in all images being dismissed prevailingly without consideration or appreciation.)

Those who visit museums and/or galleries will agree (almost) universally that they spend a much, much longer time studying an image or artwork when presented as a physical object. A completely different thing happens in the mind. For this reason I am a strident advocate of presenting artwork in/on a physical medium. (The irony that you are looking at my work on a website is not lost on me...)

So what’s the distinction between a photo print and a fine art print???

Do you remember dropping off film to be developed at the Drug Store or photo kiosk, and a few days later picking up the packet containing a double set of 4x6 inch prints (and the negatives)? How about more recently, uploading digital images at Costco’s photo counter (or online) and picking up prints or enlargements? (Loved that! So sad it’s no longer a counter service.)

Well, by and large these resulted in photo prints only, a utilitarian means of getting your pictures in hand. The decline in Costco’s photo printing business is a sign of the times, demonstrating that we’ve been conditioned into accepting a digitally presented image as functional enough (thank you - cell phone camera) - again pointing to the utilitarian nature of the thing. The enlargements and more fancy presentations provided by Costco (and others) did expand on the nature of the print, no longer purely utilitarian but still far from meeting the definition of “fine art.”

I would argue a Fine Art photo print begins immediately at the image capture step. It is not ever a “snapshot.” It is an image taken with intentionality, often planned out or planned for (i.e. capturing a dawn landscape that involved hiking out in the dark before sunrise or a studio setup involving strobe lighting, flags and GOBOs, etc.). The image, if successful, is remarkable (to the artist at a minimum).

The photographer/artist will post-process this image to express what he or she felt, or more accurately, what they saw, when they decided to make the capture. I am 100% certain that the image in their mind’s eye was exaggerated from what was presented at that time and place by their bias, emotion, etc, Not only can a camera not duplicate a three dimensional scene in a two dimensional form and be true to what existed in reality, it cannot duplicate the eye/brain processing that takes place in a human’s mind as well.

I will also incorporate the desired final outcome/goal in the media choice decision-making during this post-processing. One black and white image may benefit from a deep, rich, high contrast matte paper, while another may want a much wider and more subtle tonal range to tell its story. Yet another image may present best or most closely to my desired expression by being printed on a “metallic’ or reflective paper.

A traditional portrait might present best on a typical semi-gloss media support. The range of choices and decisions needed to complete a print that accurately reflect my intent are vast.

The final print may take on various dimensions (i.e. 5x7 inch, 8x10 inch, etc.), and when produced in-house will always be a Giclée (the fancy term for an inkjet print). I print almost all of my images on a Canon Pixma-Pro 100 printer, with the largest format being 13x19 inches. This printer uses 8 print cartridges and an archival rated ink-set. (The papers used are also archival rated.) Certain projects, or larger formats, would be sent to a print-house meeting my exacting standards.

I have created custom works that combined woodworking crafts and multiple 19x13 inch prints, the result being diptych or triptych panels with custom framing that is harmoniously incorporated into the story being told. The result can be up to 6 feet on the long dimension.