Questions1, The curl in the paper is causing the print heads on my Epson printer to rub, how do I fix this?2, I am using ImagePrint 6 and an Epson 7600 with MK ink. What profiles should I use for your Aura Decor, Smooth 280g and Poster Paper, Matte papers?3, Print Permanence Ratings are No Guarantee4, 100% Cotton Rag Fine Art Papers vs. Non-Rag Fine Art Papers5, Inkjet Fine Art Paper - General Information6, Fine Art Paper Roll Detachment7, Visual Art Sells: How to Select Fine Art Media for Reproductions8, I am seeing "banding" on my prints. What is causing this?9, How can I remove edge curl from my fine art prints?10, What is a safe way to clean my coated fine art prints?11, I want to try a Breathing Color product I have never used before; any advice?12, How long should I let my prints dry?13, How should I handle Breathing Color media? What about storage?
AnswersQ: The curl in the paper is causing the print heads on my Epson printer to rub, how do I fix this?
A: Q: I am using ImagePrint 6 and an Epson 7600 with MK ink. What profiles should I use for your Aura Decor, Smooth 280g and Poster Paper, Matte papers?
First make sure your Platen Gap is set to WIDER. If that doesn't help, you'll want to turn up the Paper Suction which is found in your Epson driver under "Paper Configuration." Turning up the suction will hold the paper firmly to the bottom of the printer and stop rubbing.
A: Q: Print Permanence Ratings are No Guarantee
A great profile to run with our Aura Decor 280 would be the Sterling 300 profile. Here's a link to ImagePrint™'s website which has an extensive selection of profiles for our papers. Here is a link to ImagePrint™'s index of profiles:
About half way down the list you should see a profiles with similar filenames of:
BCSS300 would be our Sterling 300 paper, and the remaining portion of the file name would be the type of daylight setting you are using. There should be 5 different types of settings for you to choose from.
A: Q: 100% Cotton Rag Fine Art Papers vs. Non-Rag Fine Art Papers
Print Permanence Ratings are longevity tests performed by companies who have the equipment required to conduct accelerated light exposure tests, dark aging tests, and humidity tests. The purpose of the testing is to determine the life expectancy of a digital inkjet canvas or inkjet paper print before "deterioration" occurs. Common examples of deterioration include yellowing, staining, or fading.
To the dismay of their users (and trusting believers in the Print Permanence Rating), various inkjet papers with high print permanence ratings failed to meet their expectation and instead began deteriorating within months and in some cases days after being printed. How could this happen? It's very simple, actually. Once you begin scrutinizing the longevity testing method that gave the high rating, multiple flaws are evident. For example, while factors such as light might be tested for, other common environmental factors are left out, such as exposure to certain chemicals in carpets, stretcher bars, wrapping paper (we hope you don't wrap your finished prints in brown Kraft paper), boxes (such as the box your roll of paper or sheets came in), etc., etc. etc. In other words, Print Permancence Ratings are created "in a bubble". Unfortunately, printmakers dont have that luxury.
While it's true that scrutiny of these testing methods discovered a series of flaws in the process of developing and publishing a Print Permanence Rating, the purpose of this article is not to scrutinize these flaws nor witch hunt the messenger of the Print Permanence Rating. That would be a waste of time. Instead, the purpose of this article is to expose Print Permanence Ratings for what they really are -- a marketing tool. Should a product not live up to its rating, users need to understand that they will receive absolutely no recourse in some cases, not even a refund for the price of the roll or box of sheets purchased. Ratings are no guarantee of longevity. So first and foremost, dont be fooled into thinking that they provide any sort of financial guarantee to you or your business.
Every Print Permanence Rating is accompanied by a liability disclaimer from the product's manufacturer. Here is a common example:
Actual print stability and longevity will vary according to image, display conditions, light intensity, humidity, atmospheric conditions, ink, and post printing treatments. (Manufacturer name removed) does not guarantee stability or longevity. For maximum print life, display all prints under glass or lamination or properly store them.
You can find these disclaimers with every manufacturer or OEM in this industry. The bottom line is that Print Permanence Ratings are a marketing tool that encourage confident use but in reality provide absolutely no meat and potatoes for the consumer. Why? Because when your prints turn yellow, fade, stain, or deteriorate in any other way, and when your customers want their money back, after you spent thousands on ink and countless hours in production -- you simply won't be getting any recourse. Read the disclaimer again -- once you buy the product, you assume your own risk. So the next time your local supplier or any other supplier of inkjet goods tells you about a Print Permanence Rating or a guarantee, try qualifying it. Ask them to tell you exactly what recourse you will receive from them, or from the manufacturer, should the product fail to live up to its rating. You might be surprised to see just how many people in this industry are still fooled into thinking that some guarantee actually exists -- even the suppliers.
So the next obvious question is: Why won't canvas, paper, or ink manufacturers give us consumers a guarantee on longevity? The problem with providing a guarantee on any inkjet print is that there are just too many uncontrollable factors involved that can contribute to the deterioration of a print. As seen in the disclaimer posted above, examples of such factors include display conditions, exposure to UV light and its intensity, humidity, atmospheric conditions (let's be honest, this could include just about anything), ink, and post printing treatments. Other examples include exposure to certain chemicals in carpets, stretcher bars, wrapping paper (we hope you don't wrap your finished prints in brown Kraft paper), boxes (such as the box your roll of paper or sheets came in), etc. A manufacturer simply cannot control such a myriad of factors a consumer could so likely and even unknowingly expose a print to.
Given such numerous factors and potential hazards, it is easy to understand how Print Permanence Ratings in reality are created in a bubble. Print Permanence Ratings are created in the perfect environment, in a controlled laboratory, with only select external conditions (such as light and humidity) -- and most importantly, the end goal of achieving the highest rating possible. The bottom line is that you will never achieve this rating in the real world, so don't be surprised when you don't. A Print Permanence Rating certainly doesn't tell you what to expect should you introduce other external conditions, such as exposure and/or contact with acidic cardboard or paper (a very common occurrence, unfortunately) for unspecified periods of time, or any other potential unmentioned pitfall. They simply don't address the consequences one can expect when such factors are introduced. So just because a product has a print permanence rating of say 90 years, in reality, history has proven that such a product could deteriorate within months or even days. It has happened before, and it will happen again.
All in all, the subject on Print Permanence Ratings ultimately brings us to question what consumers can do, or what factors they can control in order to maximize the longevity potential of their own inkjet prints. We will answer that question in the next article.
A: Q: Inkjet Fine Art Paper - General Information
Is 100% Cotton really worth the price? After all, how much does paper composition, weight, and feel really matter when our universal objective is selling more art? 200g, 250g, 300g, 350g.We happily pay more to use a heavier weight paper, but does a paper's weight affect an art buyer's purchase or does it just senselessly raise our production costs? Would not an art buyer make the same purchase if a lighter weight paper was used to exhibit the art? In reality, art buyers are not informed of any of these subjective attributes when purchases are made in galleries. The sizable majority of fine-art printed on paper, is typically framed and behind glass, where it may only be seen by the buyer - not felt. Additionally, art buyers are rarely aware of specific media attributes, such as weight and composition, as they are not often featured or displayed along with the art in its description. So, if end consumers are not influenced by the multitude of paper attributes so heavily marketed today, then why are we? If not to sell more art, what exactly are we spending all of this money for?
Printmakers and Self-Publishing Artists and Photographers are in the business of selling art. In order for this unique group of entrepreneurs to achieve lasting success, all of their sales and marketing strategies should serve the fundamental purpose of selling more art, at the highest possible profit margin. Output/print quality, customer service, advertising, business signage, marketing materials, etc. are examples of legitimate expenditures within the digital printmakers' most advantageous art sales strategy. Recognizing and implementing a good strategy is extremely important for small businesses, as it is a fundamental tool for increasing sales and profitability. Likewise, the ability to recognize and confront a bad strategy or one that does not increase sales, is a critically important process in facilitating long-term growth and stability for any small business.
A recent debate among the digital printmaking community is whether the prevailing use of expensive, 100% cotton-rag base-material (hereinafter referred to as "R" for "Rag") is good strategy now that far less-expensive, "quality-equivalent" alternatives exist. The debatable question is this: If quality-equivalent alternatives to R exist and are implemented, will they or will they not retain the same sales numbers? The only way to answer this question objectively is to find a quality-equivalent alternative to R, and then compare the measurable product-attributes that contribute to each particular product's sale-ability.
A good example of a "quality-equivalent alternative" is an archival alpha cellulose paper. Alpha cellulose is a high grade wood pulp that is acid and lignin free (hereinafter referred to as "AC"). It can typically be purchased at half the cost of R and in some cases even less than that. Because digital printmakers are recognizing the opportunity to cut their costs in half by using a quality-equivalent alternative to R, AC is rapidly gaining popularity. A specific AC paper may be considered a quality-equivalent to R, when its inkjet receptive coating can reproduce equal or better color-gamut, detail (dot precision/gain), and longevity by comparison.
It is a measurable fact that industry-leading AC papers can reproduce color and detail as well as industry-leading R papers. The explanation for this is simple; color gamut and detail are not determined by the base material, R or AC. Rather, these properties are solely determined by the inkjet receptive coating which can be applied to any base material/substrate. In fact, a number AC papers with equal or superior color-gamut and detail to R are already widely available.
The issue of longevity is also measurable and has been documented by well-known testing facilities namely the Wilhelm Research Institute. (http://www.wilhelm-research.com/pdf/WIR_Ep9600_2003_07_26.pdf) This page on Wilhelm's website suggests that base paper materials alone, are not a clear indicator of a paper's potential lifespan. For example, Epson's alpha cellulose, which is acid free, lignin free, buffered wood-pulp fine art paper called "Epson Watercolor Paper - Radiant White (Non-R)" has permanence results of greater than 98 years under glass, where as "Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper (R)" has permanence results of only 61 years under glass, and "Epson Somerset Velvet Fine Art Paper (R)" has permanence results of 62 years under glass.
The only seemingly relevant argument made in support of R, however subjective, is that R simply feels better in your hand. As a business owner you must ask yourself, does "feel" sell more art? It is not common practice for an art buyer to sample the "feel" before making an acquisition of a favored work of art, which is usually framed behind glass and was originally created to be visually stimulating and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, not the hand. Art buyers don't care about feeling art.they care about how it looks. They care about how the art will fit into their home or office. So if the art buyer does not buy based upon "feel", why should we create art based upon this criteria?
A self-publishing fine artist/photographer who may spend $20,000/year exclusively using R could cut this in half to $10,000/year using AC. This puts an additional $10,000/year in their pocket without effecting art sales. For this reason alone, printmakers as a whole should always strive to use Non-R unless R is specifically demanded by a customer and knowledge-based persuasion is not feasible.
Remember: The artists using AC are getting the same gallery placement and dollar value for their art as the artists using the more costly R. The only difference is that one of them is making a much higher profit margin from each sale.
EXAMPLE: COST COMPARISON
Two Products with Equivalent Color Reproduction and Dmax
SterlingT 300g Bright White (Made from Acid and Lignin Free Alpha Cellulose)
17" x 40' - $40.00 ($.69 per square foot)
24" x 40' - $55.00
44" x 40' - $102.00
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 (Made from 100% Cotton Rag)
17" x 39' - $99.00 ($1.65 per sq. foot)
24" x 39' - $129.00
44" x 39' - $249.00
A: Q: Fine Art Paper Roll Detachment
If you are selling fine art giclée prints your quality driven customers will demand using an acid-free pH-neutral archival inkjet fine art paper. Museums and fine artists with rigid standards will require this class of fine art paper. So if you are looking for a wide format media you can trust, Breathing Color fine art papers have become the most popular solution for fine art printmakers and publishers worldwide. For example, Breathing Color's Elegance Velvet Fine Art Paper, Elegance Textured Fine Art Paper, and Sterling 280g Smooth Fine Art Paper, are available in both sheets and rolls.
There are several good reasons to use the fine art papers available from Breathing Color. First and foremost, your business requires nothing less than the best quality paper available so that your customers are guaranteed to maximize potential color gamut and dmax. Second, by buying direct from a fine art paper manufacturer, you can eliminate middleman distributors and save money in the process.
Cheap papers are suitable for normal printing for pictures to share with friends and family, and also have their use for proofing pictures you intend to print for sale or display on more expensive materials.
Choosing a Surface of a Fine Art Inkjet Paper
You may not like the particular inkjet fine art paper surfaces that you have tried thus far, which could have been the papers you received with your Epson printer. Although the range provided by, for example Epson, is large enough to be confusing, the fine art papers included in it actually only cover a fairly small range of what is available. Using fine art papers from a "third party manufacturer" gives you a much wider choice, including many different smooth and textured inkjet papers and shinier gloss finishes as well as some unusual materials including some non-paper surfaces including fabric such as an inkjet printable silk as well as signage and inkjet banner products such as adhesive vinyl. All of these fine art inkjet papers are available at much more competitive prices and are, in many cases, superior in performance.
Choosing a Weight of a Fine Art Inkjet Paper
The traditional measurement of fine art paper thickness is given in grams per square meter (gsm). Normal typing paper is around 80 gsm, and typical inkjet fine art papers may range from 120-310 gsm. More expensive fine-art papers are usually on or over 300gsm, while the lesser expensive ones are on or below 210gsm. Heavier fine art papers can cause problems with the paper feed in some printers. Small-format models that have a significantly curved path for the paper through the machine are particularly unlikely to be able to use such heavyweight papers. However, despite what the printer manual says, usually double the maximum weight specified with some printers will print fine art without problems.
Archival Qualities of Inkjet Fine Art Paper
Three factors - paper, ink and paper coating - interact to determine print lifetimes, as well as the environmental factors including storage and display conditions. Good fine art papers are likely to lead to longer lifetimes, and as with most other media, this generally means acid-free materials.
Cheaper fine art paper generally will not last well, breaking down over time to give acidic materials that will attack the image. Acid-free papers usually perform better.
The best fine art papers are generally made from 100% cotton rag rather than wood pulp, and these tend to be expensive - at least a dollar for a sheet.
Inkjet Fine Art Paper Confusing Issues
There are actually relatively few manufacturers of high quality papers. The distributors sell many papers made by some manufacturers under different brand names, which makes for some confusion. Claims by some of these re-branders that they specify different coatings for the paper they sell often - if not always - appear to be untrue. The aim of this re-branding is to lock the user into using paper supplied by them, when the same material (but under a different name) may be available more cheaply elsewhere. Breathing Color does not participate in such a strategy and our customers appreciate the exlcusivity and uniqueness of our product line.
Glossy Inkjet Fine Art Papers
Gloss papers are generally made for non-archival use. They range from highly reflective plastic films to materials with a relatively low gloss, that are almost closer to a pearl or lustre finish.
Pigment printers seldom produce good results on gloss surfaces, often giving very slow drying and patchy results.
A: Q: Visual Art Sells: How to Select Fine Art Media for Reproductions
When printing in a high-output environment, often times printmakers are not physically “babysitting" their printer as it works through a roll. In this situation, a printmaker will find it helpful for the canvas/paper to detach itself from the roll once it has reached the end. This way the printer knows that the roll is finished and stops printing. However, depending upon how the media was converted, some inkjet substrates may have a tendency to do just the opposite and stay attached to the core once the end of the roll has been reached. If you are experiencing this problem with a particular media, a short term solution is to simply calculate the length of the roll and set the print job to not exceed that predetermined length. A good rule of thumb us to stop three feet short of the known end of the roll. A long term solution is to inform the media manufacturer so they can take the proper steps to modify the attachment adhesive on their next conversion of the product. Simply using a less aggressive adhesive in the converting process will solve the problem. At Breathing Color, we are aware of this situation and have taken the necessary steps ensure that all of our products are as user-friendly as possible. If you are experiencing detachment issues with any Breathing Color product, kindly let us know, so we can investigate and make the proper adjustments.
A: Q: I am seeing "banding" on my prints. What is causing this?
What makes art sell? Why are some artists making millions of dollars while others struggling to afford paint brushes? While there are many factors involved in the prosperity of one artist to another, by far the most critical is the aesthetic appeal the artwork itself. Simply put, the more visually appealing a particular work of art is, the better it will sell. Whether art is being shown as originals or prints, in a gallery or at an art show, the consumer is primarily influenced by the visual appeal of their prospective purchase and subsequently, its perceived value. Publishers, printmakers, framers, gallery owners, and of course the artists themselves all (directly or indirectly) profit from art sales. Collectively they share a common goal of selling art; while individually they strive to create a rich environment for art sales to take place, at the greatest possible rate. The artist creates the most visually appealing rendition of their art possible so consumers will be drawn to it, the publisher prints the best possible catalogue to increase exposure and prestige; framer matches the art with a frame that becomes an visual extension of the painting, and the printmaker produces the most vibrant, accurate, and sellable print possible through equipment selection, experience, and talent. While each of these players is involved in the overall sell-ability of art, the purpose of this article is to focus on the printmaker and his/her influence on the visual appeal of a fine art reproduction.
As a printmaker there are an overwhelming amount of variables involved in reproducing a sellable print. Aside from experience, knowledge, and raw talent, which are extremely important, a profitable printmaker learns to intelligently blend controllable variables with uncontrollable variables to reproduce the best possible prints. Controllable variables are aspects of the process that can be objectively defined in absolutes values. For example, a printmaker can determine the absolute highest black density (DMAX) or widest color gamut that a particular substrate or ink is able to achieve, thus creating the most visually appealing print. These data are measurable facts, not a matter of opinion. Uncontrollable variables are also a key contributing factor in creating the visual appeal and sale-ability of an art reproduction. Unlike the controllable variables, these rely primarily on subjective opinions such as media weight, thickness, white-point, texture, and substrate type. While many artists have preconceived preferences, the most successful printmakers are those who influence this process with personal experience and industry knowledge of market trends. Mark Leftoff, President of Gallery Street (www.gallerystreet.com) in Atlanta, GA provides some recommendation on how to add as some objectivity to this process.
First, select a media type and finish that, based upon the history of successful art pieces, will best suit a particular image. We typically recommend canvas first because with a higher perceived value to the end consumer, it can be sold at a higher price or in greater volume which in turn creates more financial reward for our customers. If a customer prefers to use matte fine art paper, we may even print some small swatches on different media in order to find a fit for their image that we all believe will result in the most success. We encourage our customers to test market these samples by getting some opinions from a handful of their own customers who will be buying the art. We believe that by including more professionals in the process we can minimize risk and more accurately assess the marketability of every print. It is in this manner that we work alongside our customers and together make educated business decisions on how to select the best media for every print job.
The most successful printmakers typically select a standard in house media based upon objective testing and industry experience. Most have chosen a smooth paper, a velvet finish paper, a heavily textured paper, and a canvas or two. A couple of different weights and finish are usually offered as well. This enables them to accurately match the proper media type, texture and weight, with a particular image to maximize sell-ability. It is also important for the artist to offer a couple of different options to their prospective art buyers/gallery owners to determine the most sellable option. When selecting which brand of media to permanently offer to their artists, these decisions are based upon controllable variables or hard facts such as determining which substrate produces the best colors, the best blacks, shows the best detail, and will last the longest.
By far the most important considerations in using any given fine art media on the market are color and longevity. This means that above all, our media must be measurably superior in achieving the widest color gamut and highest Dmax possible. In this business, color can make you or break you. This guarantees MFA Talon Graphics that the paper we are using produces the best color on our reproductions. Then we must consider how long the color will last without fading or yellowing. MFA Talon Graphics chooses fine art media from a quality in, quality out perspective. This is how we continually deliver on our promise to our customers, says Teddy Blah (Head Printmaker at MFA Talon Graphics of El Segundo, CA).
While many printmakers may wrestle with the decision of which media to stock, or learn through a process of trial and error, the most profitable and experienced printmakers understand one important fact art sells based upon how it looks. Those who offer a wide range of high-performance substrates and have the industry knowledge and market experience to suggest which substrate is most suitable or sellable with a particular image will be the most profitable. By offering substandard media or selecting the wrong substrate for a particular image, not only are you devaluing your own quality and expertise as a printmaker, but also that of the artists themselves. This will inevitably result in the loss of printing business to a competitor. With the exponential growth of the printmaking industry, every competitive advantage must be pursued to ensure the prosperity of your small business. Therefore, the key to success as a fine art printmaker is to produce the most visually appealing, archival, and sellable prints possible.
A: Q: How can I remove edge curl from my fine art prints?
There are a few different things that can cause banding. Most commonly, you will see banding occur when there is a clogged nozzle or something else hardware related. Please follow the steps below to help identify the issue:
Ensure that your printer can handle the thickness of the media you are attempting to print on. In your printer's user manual, or by calling the manufacture, you can find the maximum weight that your printer will accept; make sure that the media doesn't exceed this maximum specification.
See our blog about doing a nozzle check and other maintainance on your printer.
If the nozzle check results look fine, proceed to check your platen gap settings and making sure other print settings are correct.
A: Q: What is a safe way to clean my coated fine art prints?
Edge curl is something that most users have learned to deal with, but there are ways to remove it. We have found an easy and affordable method for flattening your prints. The best part is you can use supplies you already have in your print shop! Here are the supplies you’ll need:
An empty 3" core (save the core from your last roll of fine art paper)
2 sheets of foam packing material
Read more about how to remove this type edge curl here on our blog, The Art of Printmaking.
A: Q: I want to try a Breathing Color product I have never used before; any advice?
Cleaning fine art prints that are coated with our Timeless or Glamour 2 varnish is quite easy. Simply use a damp cloth to gently wipe the surface of the coated print to remove dust or dirt. Read more about cleaning your coated fine art prints here on our blog, The Art of Printmaking.
A: Q: How long should I let my prints dry?
Trying new products can be an exciting experience, but can also be a disappointment if the first print does not end up way you want it to. This is why it’s important to make sure that you not only print with the proper settings, but you also print with great test images. We offer trial rolls for all of our products to give you the opportunity to run test prints, build profiles, and ultimately compare it to what you currently have. When you receive your trial roll, you’ll want to download and install the right profile. Get more detailed information about how we recommend testing our different products here on our blog, The Art of Printmaking.
A: Q: How should I handle Breathing Color media? What about storage?
When printing on canvas or fine art paper, it is critical that the prints be allowed to dry and outgass fully before they are mounted, stretched, and/or framed. Finishing these prints prematurely can cause a whole host of problems from splotchy glass when framing, to pin holes and bubbles while coating in preparation for stretching. Read more about dry time and outgassing on our blog, The Art of Printmaking.
To prevent the transfer of oils and dirt from your hands to the inkjet receptive coating of the media, white cotton gloves should be worn when handling the media. When not using the media, you should store it in its original packaging, exactly how it was shipped to you. Read more about our recommended handling and storage best practices on our blog, The Art of Printmaking.