From Artist to Print Supplier
An Artist’s Perspective on Tapping the Fine Art Market
by Gretchen A. Peck
Part 4 of a 4-part exclusive online series
When it comes to fine art reproduction, Tomara Jude Rose—or TJ, as she’s best known—has a unique perspective. She’s enjoyed a career as a painter for more than 20 years. Rose is also the owner of her own art gallery, TJ Rose Studios in Henderson, NV, and most recently, she’s added fine art reproduction supplier to her resume.
Her interest in fine art reproduction began more than 13 years ago when she opened her first gallery. "As I was selling my originals, as they were going bye-bye, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh! I’ve got to find a way to preserve them and to share them with others.’ I discovered the giclée process and watched it evolve from a dye-based process to the newer pigment-based systems," Rose recalls.
The first-generation dye-based solutions just didn’t offer the quality Rose expected of her reproductions, and they produced prints with limited longevity—making it a difficult sell for an artist.
But Rose kept close tabs on inkjet technology as it matured. And she began taking her work to local print suppliers to see just what they could produce. Some of the results were better than others, she admits, but more unsettling to Rose was the level of service she received.
"I think it’s very hard to get people who are trained technicians to look at the work like an artist," she explains. "I’m not saying that there isn’t an element of creativity that goes into a printer’s work; of course it’s not just ‘shoot, print, and laminate.’ But an artist wants to know that the printer sees what he or she is seeing, that they’ll make every attempt to pick up all the details and nuances an artist put into the work. It’s tragic to lose those qualities."
Rose had faith in the technology, though. She saw real promise in what inkjet could do, not only for her own business, but for the careers of fellow artists, as well.
"I decided I was going to learn the giclée process, and just do it myself," she recalls. She bought her first printer, a Roland Hi-Fi JET FJ 50. And so began her career in fine art reproduction.
She developed a color-managed workflow, starting with image capture. She uses a Canon 1DS Mark II camera for capture—switching between 50mm and 100mm macro lenses, depending on the size of the original. And she uses Adobe Photoshop and an ErgoSoft RIP to round out the prepress workflow.
Since her first printer investment, Rose upgraded to a Roland Hi-Fi JET Pro II FJ-540, and says that the print business has demanded her full-time attention for the past year. "I paint on the weekends," she quips.
Rose’s print business has grown exponentially in the course of the past year—surprisingly, without much attention to marketing. The artists just come to her.
"Artists are generally familiar with the technology," she suggests. "They call me about it, and I’ll ask them to come in. We’ll do some proofing, and then just go from there. I really enjoy working with the artists, understanding their work, and reproducing it with care, giving them the quality they should expect."
Another service that Rose offers which may make her print business somewhat special is marketing consultation. As someone who knows what sells and what won’t in fine art reproduction, she helps artists kick-start their careers by sharing her experiences and offering advice.