Fine Art Reproduction - part 3 of 1 2 3

by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2005

The slight residual yellow cast of the canned profile was totally eliminated by bespoke profiling. At this stage of the proofing, the artist and printer would normally discuss the print and seek ways of final tuning should any be required. This process may be an "enhancement" of the reproduction over the original. For example some people might prefer slightly more contrast or colour saturation and batter visual compromises might be made to out of gamut

How much to charge? High quality, colour-managed giclee printing carries additional overheads to run of the mill printing. Flawed prints have to be ruthlessly destroyed and a watch should be kept for dust particles leaving white spots on the printed surface. Some papers are worse than others but diligence is required to keep the roller transport clean especially with some of the more fibrous and dusty art materials.

To arrive at a structured pricing for his enhanced service we worked with Sinclair Fine Art in analysing their charges. On the web we found prices for an A3 print ranged from £6.66 to £64 (we also heard tales of prints being made for £1,200 per A4 but decided to ignore that data point). The average for an A3 print was £15.47. The media costs assuming a high quality museum grade material (e.g. Permajet Classic or ImageLife series) appear to be £2.28 for an A3 print yielding a profit of around £12 per print, before overheads. Note that the total cost is not too sensitive to media costs. The table of charges should act as a starting point for anybody trying to set their own price list up. Whilst there will be regional and market-based variations in what you can charge for your services, the values shown are adjusted averages which have at least been given some serious thought.

Overheads include: • Waste, damaged prints, wasted media because there is a mismatch between the print size and the paper size/shape. • Interstage proofing if the printer/ink/paper combination has drifted over time. • The overhead for profiling and calibrating and the equipment capitalisation • The capital overheads on the printer, computers and software (remember, the cost of an Epson £4000 requires that the first £35 of income each month is creamed off to pay for it; similar values are attached to your computing resources). Minimum Print Order This leads to the question of print-run, minimum order. Whilst it is advantageous for the artist to print-on-demand, you should set a minimum so that you do not spend your time progress chasing and invoicing for single A4 prints! Ten seems a good number for A4 and10x8inch prints, reducing to perhaps 3 prints for 20x30 inch prints. Also bear in mind that if an artist specifies a particular media you have to store an inventory of that stock, as well as setting to and profiling it. It may pay to offer discount for more extended print runs. For occasional jobs on odd sized materials, a base of 8p/in2 is a good opening gambit when doing a costing. The costing should also consider that if a single flaw (eg a dust spot on a print) ruins that print then the relative cost is higher for a large print. There is an argument to say that an A3 print should cost more than twice an A4 print on that logic.

Do not forget to charge realistically for your time spent proofing an edition. It is quite surprising how the time flies by, especially if the artist is present. That is time you should charge for. The figures we drafted are tabled and are an honest attempt to reflect the effort required. Central London locations will have to load this compared to out of town print bureaux, especially if it is high street enterprise.

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1st Published 01/04/2005
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