Saturday, May 05, 2007

Improving my presentation - Part 3: Advantages of a Wide Format Printer

In part 1 and part 2, I talked about deciding on print sizes and evaluating online print services. Now I'll talk about the advantages of doing my own printing with a wide format pigment printer

As I mentioned in part 2, my costs for an online print service were surpassing $600 for just a small selection of prints, and would leave me with high incremental replacement costs. It was quickly becoming obvious that I should reconsider my original desire of printing for myself with a wide format pigment printer.

Going with my own printer gives me a lot of advantages:

Incremental Cost
Most obvious is the incremental cost of prints. After the initial investment, 16x28 prints would likely cost under $10 each. Thats affordable enough that I could justify printing many images in this large size, and I don't have to be in fear of damage or theft.

Print Consistency
From now on, all of my prints (until I decide to go even larger) can be done on the same printer. There will be no differences in color gamut, print quality, or paper characteristics. One process for everything. In addition, should I decide to print on a different material (like watercolor paper or canvas), I will only be changing one factor in the chain. I can continue to enjoy the same quality and color gamut (except for any limitations of the media itself)

Pigment is Wide Gamut
Speaking of gamut, I had mentioned that other printing solutions had limitations on color gamut. The Chromira process seemed (at least from what I could tell) to be the best traditional printing solution out there in terms of gamut. However, even it can't hold a candle to the gamut available on pigment printers.

Pigment is Archival
Previously, my larger prints were printed archivally (exposed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper), but my smaller prints were not. Although I had no real concern with the longevity of those prints, now I can be pleased to advertise that all my prints are archival quality.

Instant Proofing & Replacement
With a mail order service, I have to wait to get a proof back before deciding if the quality is good enough to go for the full size print. Doing the printing myself, I can make that decision in a matter of minutes (and again, for a fraction of the cost). Likewise, if I sell a print on day 1 of a show, I'd like to have it replaced as soon as possible. With a mail order service, I either have to invest the money up front to have a second copy on hand, or wait several days for the replacement (which means not having a copy for the remainder of the show). Now I can either more easily cost-justify having the replacement on hand, or just reprint it that night and have it ready the next day.

Ability to Experiment
Sometimes there is a picture you might like, but you aren't sure (because of content or image quality reasons) whether it will look OK at a large size. For just a couple of dollars, I can feel free to enlarge it and see if it really works at that size. If I had to pay $100, I probably wouldn't feel so free to experiment.

Finally, saving the least important for last: I can now refer to all of my prints using the buzzword that really seems to be in vogue lately: Giclee.

In part 4, I'll talk about which printer I chose and how I decided.

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