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Giclée Breaks Boundaries

Affordable and Convenient Art Reproduction

By Kim Crowley

Print service providers’ customer bases grow as more fine artists take advantage of large format printing. The digital fine art reproduction—or giclée—process yields quality prints with long life and no minimum print run requirement. An alternative to more costly lithographs, giclée allows artists to cost-effectively reprint their work.

Reproduction Model
GRI Studios of Denver, CO celebrates its ninth year of business. The company’s five employees operate out of a 2,500 square foot space, offering digital capture, giclée printing, signs and banners, laminating and mounting, fine art sales, and most recently, electronic display systems. Their customers are primarily located in Western U.S., but span throughout the top 25 art markets in the country.

The GRI Studios team is enthusiastic about giclée output. Due to its success, business is growing steadily to about a million dollars a year. "The quality of digital reproduction is unmatched," says Ray Snyder, VP Production, GRI Studios.

He notes that giclée print demand from GRI Studios’ customers is constantly rising. "Over the years fine art reproduction technology evolved to closely match the rate consumers adopt giclée. The economy recently influenced demand as well. With original art sales down, more consumers are purchasing giclée prints. It’s an affordable way of collecting multiple pieces from an artist’s body of work."

To handle the expanding workload of giclée projects, GRI Studios stays informed about the latest technology. To digitally capture client photos and artwork, they use Hasselblad digital scan backs, as well as a Phase One P 45 digital camera back. Files are stored digitally on redundant enterprise ART servers, which make them secure and accessible.

For reproduction printing, the company utilizes Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) HP Designjet Z6100. "The HP Designjet Z6100 is the best machine for giclée printing," states Snyder. The printer’s eight-ink system, including two blacks and light gray for wide color gamut and true grayscale printing; four picoliter dot size; and HP Vivera inks are just some of the features that make it the perfect fit. For example, Vivera inks are rated to last indoors for one or more years unlaminated; three or more years laminated; or over 200 years with no direct sun.

To complement their printing services, GRI Studios pushes art beyond the boundaries of canvas with a worldwide Digi-Canvas offering. "The Digi-Canvas is a system for publishing art in high definition on flat screens," explains Snyder. "We provide these systems to businesses—art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, banks, cafes, realtors, tattoo shops, spas, resorts—around the world. Consumers are able to find art that they like and purchase the original art or as a giclée printed by GRI Studios."

Creating a Showcase
To grow business further and offer fine art to the community GRI Studios expanded in February 2008 with the launch of Ditto Gallery. Located in the Golden Triangle Museum District of Denver, CO the gallery showcases a variety of artists’ work and draws attention to GRI Studios’ quality giclée prints.

"Ditto Gallery focuses on emerging artists and affordable art through digital fine art reproduction and distribution," notes Jeff Smith, president, GRI Studios and member of the board of directors for the Golden Triangle Museum District. "Our grand opening reception featured four incredible emerging artists from Mexico to Boulder, CO."

Snyder says Ditto Gallery was a chance to further tap into the opportunities that stem from giclée printing. "Ditto Gallery is the first of its kind ‘art-on-demand’ gallery. Located in the heart of the community, Ditto Gallery showcases a diverse selection of local and international artists’ originals and giclées in a relaxed creative environment. With the unique premise of art on demand, we provide art for everyone."

The high quality, on demand, no minimum nature of giclée allows GRI Studios to offer museum-grade pieces to collectors without the high price tag. "With the use of superior digital technologies and nine years of reproduction experience, we produce high-end art reproductions on canvas, art papers, and posters, making art affordable for art enthusiasts of all experience levels," says Snyder. "If someone sees a piece of work they love showcased in the gallery, but the original is outside of their means, or they want an artist’s entire series, we can print identical limited editions of the artwork for a fraction the cost."

He adds, "It’s exciting to work in an environment that combines the bustling creativity of giclée printing with the classy, relaxed atmosphere of an art gallery. The concept and business is so great that we are franchising Ditto Gallery later this year."

Portfolio On Demand
Phil Lewis of Phil Lewis Art uses a combination of hands-on treatment and digital manipulation to create his artwork. He starts his eight- by ten-inch projects with a pencil sketch, outlines with black pen, and then colors with markers. He then scans the work into Adobe Photoshop to enhance by adjusting hues and saturations to balance colors.

Lewis continually reprints work from his portfolio at GRI Studios for showings and purchase at art gallery exhibits, coffee shops, and art festivals. GRI Studios prints his work directly to InteliCoat Technologies’ Magiclée Torino 17M cotton/polyester blend canvas with the HP Designjet Z6100 and HP Vivera ink. A semi-gloss UV clear coat by Clearstar LP is added and the pieces are stretched to heavy duty, one-and-a-half inch stretcher bars.

"The colors pop at all sizes—16x20-, 20x30-, and 24x36-inch—from the outstanding saturation and color spectrum of the printer," says Snyder of Lewis’ giclées. "Lewis was recently honored in Amsterdam at the Bevrijdingspop Festival for his outstanding use of colors and line work."

Lewis’ orders require a three day turnaround. "The speed of the HP Designjet Z6100 and the applied clear coat makes it possible," notes Snyder.

"I went down to Denver, CO yesterday to pick up some new canvas prints of my work—The Zebra and The Joker—and they came out so amazing," Lewis shares. "They look cool with the thick stretcher bars and museum wrap. I am continuously blown away by the quality of work by GRI Studios. The color saturation and print detail is absolutely the best I have ever seen, as is their finishing technique."

No Boundaries
Despite strong local competition, GRI Studios is staying on top with experienced staff, competitive rates, innovative new ventures, and attention to customers. Giclée printing is a profitable source of revenue.

Sep2008, Digital Output

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