(How to have quality reproductions of your artwork made)
What are Giclee Prints?
Giclee is a type of inkjet printing process often used to reproduce fine art paintings as limited edition prints.
How do I get a copy of my work?
Your printers will need a compatible computer image file to work from. Jpegs are the most common but others are available. Speak to your printers to see exactly what they need. Many printers will also offer to scan your artwork for a 'set up' fee. There are two main ways of obtaining an image file; scanning on a flat bed scanner or photography.
Photo or scan, which is best?
A specialist fine art photographer may certainly capture detail and colour to a greater degree than a scan can. However for most new artists this will not practically be affordable. If you are a keen amateur photographer and wish to do a little research on photographing artwork you may be able to do this yourself. Otherwise scanning is your next option. Most printers will scan your work for you and most will charge an initial set up fee. If you are a professional artist and regularly work with a printer they may waive this fee due to the amount of work you are putting their way.
Quality is vital...
Do not choose a printer on cost alone. You need to ensure they are using good fine art papers and archival inks. Call me old fashioned but I think you have a responsibility to ensure your work hasn’t faded to a white sheet of paper within a couple of months of being hung. Imagine the damage this can do to your reputation - cheap inks fade and they fade fast.
Can I scan and produce my own prints at home?
This is possible but only if you invest in proper equipment, good scanner and the correct inks/papers. Don’t even think about doing it on a standard printer for the reasons given above.
How much will it cost to have prints made?
The more prints you have done the cheaper the cost will be, your printers will provide you with prices including bulk discounts.
How many should I have printed?
It is hard to say which artwork will be popular as prints, so err on the side of caution and only get a couple of each design done to start with, or you may end up stuck with some very expensive drawer liners.
How do I sign my prints?
The traditional way to number is to write in pencil just below the printed area. On the left put the title, in parenthesis if you wish. In the centre number the print (see the next paragraph) to the right sign your name. Practice first as it is surprisingly difficult to remove pencil completely from fine art paper.
How do I number/edition my prints?
Contrary to popular belief you do not have to have every print in your edition printed in one go. The amount of prints in an edition is simply a promise that you will not ever produce more than that amount in the future. If you decide for example that you will never produce more than 25 prints of a piece and you are signing the fourth print you have had made your number would look like this 4/25 (fourth print of an edition of 25) As for how many prints you want in an edition, it can be a small number like five, or more like a hundred, some famous artists go into thousands. Remember!** Get yourself a little book or a spreadsheet to keep track of your print editions, or you will forget how many you have had done.
What size should the mount be? (Note to those reading from the USA mounts are called ‘mats’ in America)
Unless you are practiced and have the right equipment I suggest you get a mount cut at a local framers, it is not expensive. Stick to neutrals, soft white works best. *Important* prints are not mounted right up to the edge of the artwork like original paintings; a white border is left around the whole print. This is throwback to hand-made prints where it was important to see that the edges were ‘in registration’. The border will also allow your signature/title/number to be displayed. I like to leave a 1cm white border around 3 sides and a 2cm border at the bottom where my signature is, but there is no exact rule about this, nor about the width of the mount. Your framer will need internal and external measurements in order to cut your mount so decide and take them with you.
How do I attach the mount?
Prints are attached to the mount by the top edge only, to allow for expansion and contraction with changes in atmosphere. This is called ‘hinge mounting’. You will need to use properly designed tape for this or you risk it detaching later – never use masking or sellotape! You need a type of white backed adhesive tape called ‘hinging tape’. This is different from the brown ‘framing tape’ that is used for sealing the back of paintings. You may get it from an art shop, if not it is available online from various suppliers search for ‘fine art hinging (or mounting) tape’. Method: first sign your print and turn it face up. Get a couple of small pieces of masking tape and attach them to the reverse of the print at the sides, close to the bottom, sticky side towards you and protruding from the print. Carefully lay the mount on top and when you are happy with the position press down on the tape. Carefully slide the print and mount off the edge of the table, grip the tape in place and flip it over. Apply your hinge tape along the top edge and you are done. Be careful with masking tape it can tear prints; it is an idea to pick up a little lint from your trousers by pressing the tape on to lesson the ‘tack’ before starting.
How do I wrap and display the print?
You will need to stiffen your print with a piece of card cut to the same dimensions as the outside edges of your mount. You can use mount board (framers will sometimes sell off-cuts). You can also use the type of back-board that goes on the back of paintings providing it is not too heavy/thick. Specialist art suppliers also sell a type of corrugated card made of plastic, although I avoid this as it is not very environmentally friendly. Basically any stiff, plain, card or board will do. Some people place an information sheet or business card/flyer inside before wrapping in cellophane. Cellophane can be bought from art or florist suppliers, I recommend 'Scotch Magic Tape' in preference to standard cellotape. Then place a label on the back with title, artist, medium and price. It is very important that people understand exactly what they are buying, that it is a reproduction print, not a hand-made (printmaking) print or an original. Keep all labels to the reverse for neatness.
How much do I charge?
There is no correct answer to this but don’t price too cheaply. Ensure you are getting a good profit, so work out your costs. If you are new to selling artwork then a price of £25 to £100 would be appropriate.
Now all you need is to display your prints in a wooden, free standing print browser and wait for sales. Keep your prints pristine looking, if they go out to a shop and come back unsold looking tatty or with stickers on remove and replace the cellophane.
Finally, the instructions above look complex but once you have everything set up and a few basic supplies you can easily produce reproductions of your work and display them for sale!