A Small Guide to Digital Prints, for anyone out there that feels cluless.


WB Yeats inspired Prints - High Quality Recycled Paper and high quality dye Ink.


*Please note what you'll read here is my own knowledge of digital printing, which is a chunk to be fair but there's still much I have to learn. Flowermoon Studio is an eco-conscious brand so I'm always on the look out for high quality, earth-friendly, sustainable materials.
I don't like the idea of using trees, I will not use paper that's been made from trees, ever! With the excemption of recycled paper because I find that better than paper going to landfill. I continue to educate myself about inks and paper, their sources like how are they made? Where are they made? Is it sustainable?
Due to my own budget, what I've used in the past is high quality heavyweight recycled paper stock with high quality dye inks, which is reflected in my pricing. If framed correctly these prints should last a solid 30 years. These days I'm broadening out to cotton-rag papers and a higher quality of ink.

So given that I sell prints of my work and many other artists I know do too, I thought I'd write this post about digital prints and hopefully help clear that air of confusion many people feel when they visit the gallery and see the difference in price between prints.
Many artists these days make reproductions of their artwork with prints, postcards and greeting cards. It's a smart way for an artist to make as much income from a single painting as possible and offers people with a limited budget a way to enjoy artwork from an artist they admire. The quality of a good digital print relies on two things, ink and paper.

INK - Dye vs Pigment
Imagine two ink cartridges, one is a DYE ink cartridge, the other is a PIGMENT ink cartridge. Now imagine looking at each one through a microscope, so you are now seeing particles.

Dye inks are made from dyes that are soluble in water,  these particles are large and loose. Pigment ink is made from pigment that is insoluble in water, these particles are tiny, tighter and more compact because they are insoluble in the water.  What we get is the pigment ink sitting on top of the paper rather than being absorbed into the paper’s fibers, such as the dye. What does this mean for your print? There's a few differences so I made a chart...



PAPER
Paper is the second factor to consider when purchasing a print - it is just as important as ink when considering longevity. You want a paper that is archival (long shelf life) and acid free (PH is neutral and won't reek havoc with the ink).
Papers made with natural fibres such as cotton-rag, bamboo and hemp are just what you want and are beautiful to work with. These papers are not made with tree fibres, so are more sustainable and eco-conscious. Cotton-rag for example is made from the by-product of cotton fabrics collected from factories in the textile industry.
Bamboo is a grass and grows super quick, about three feet each day - no need for pesticides and it needs little water. As a paper it has a warmth, it's soft and durable. Hemp is similar to Bamboo as in it's durable and grows quickly; it doesn't yellow, crack, or deteriorate like tree paper.

In regards to paper weight, anything from 170gsm up to 300gsm is good as it can hold more ink due to its' sturdiness.

Companies such as Hahnemuehle, Canson and Pinnacle offer a wide range of papers such as the ones I've mentioned. Canon and Epson supply their own brand of papers to compliment their inks and create high quality prints.
Papers to be weary of are glossy papers (no guarantee of a long shelf life for your print) and papers that boast optical brighteners, they have issues with UV light and can break down dye inks on unprotected prints.


Awagami Inkjet Papers - Japanese washi paper created for the highest quality digital inkjet prints. 



Some artist choose to purchase a studio lab quality printer and create their own in-house prints. Provided the ink and paper used are of high quality, you can be guaranteed a print that when framed properly could last a solid 30 years or more. Canon, Epson and Fuji offer the best quality printers and inks for longevity. There is also the option many artists and photographers choose, to get their prints done at a professional printing house. These printing houses specialize in fine art quality printing, artwork scanning and framing.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A DIGITAL PRINT
You may see these words pop up when looking at prints - "Giclée" "Digital" "Digigraphie" ????
In a nutshell they all pretty much mean the same thing, an inkjet print.

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Digital Print - standard quality print, can vary a bit in regards to quality, printed with good/high quality dye inks, mainly a wood pulp paper, sometimes cotton-rag. This would be the most cost-effective print to purchase, usually €25 & under depending on size.

Giclée Print - high quality print, printed with the highest quality dye/pigment ink on archival museum quality paper, such as cotton-rag.  This is a notch up in price, from €20 up to as far €60 depending on size. I've seen giclée prints cost almost as much as the original painting.
*Giclée (shee-clay) derived from the French word gicler meaning “to squirt or spray”. It was coined in 1991 by French print maker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.

Digigraphie Print - high quality print, just like a giclée print - exclusively printed with Epson pigment inks on archival museum quality paper. Comes with certificate of authenticity for collectors.
*Epson has pioneered pigment inks as a mainstream technology, they work extensively to bring it up to it's full potential.

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Basically the higher the quality of the ink and paper used, the more expensive the print will be as it is a much longer lasting print. Some artists will have framed prints in quality frames otherwise it's usually up to the buyer to find their print a good home: i.e. a quality frame with UV filtered glass, and a spot on the wall with not too much direct sunlight.


Neon Bird Prints - High Quality Recycled Paper and high quality dye Ink.


TAKING CARE OF YOUR PRINT
You may have bought a print in the past that within a year looks washed out, faded or has turned yellow or green. This is due to poor quality ink/paper/cheap frames and subjected to direct sunlight and UV rays.
When you buy your beautiful giclée print you need a frame that has UV filtered glass which can be found at framers, print houses and some photo labs. They can be expensive depending on the size but again you are paying for quality and something that will last for years. 
To be honest I'm not entirely sure about frames found in retail shops, personally I wouldn't count on them for full protection as sometimes they're 50% glass 50% plastic, but for a standard print retail frames are fine, just keep it from direct sunlight. It's the Giclée and Digigraphie prints that I would recommend a UV filtered glass frame.

SO TO RECAP what to look out for when choosing a digital print, buy a print with a high quality ink such as Epson or Canon, they make amazing dye and pigment inks. Check see if paper is cotton-rag or bamboo and has no optical brighteners or is glossy, and finally a UV filtered frame for high quality prints. Sure if you feel unsure about a print you can always ask the artist or the person at the counter, if they know their stuff they will be able to assist you.
Well I hope this post has been of some benefit and given you a tad more confidence when choosing prints in the future, to fill your pretty walls...")


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