Monday, August 20, 2012

"The 24 Hours Before": a book review

by Kate Dardine

Working at Fine Print Imaging for the past 23 years has been a privilege and a constant source of inspiration. I’ve had the opportunity to see thousands of beautiful images and meet hundreds of talented photographers and artists. Some of them have become my friends.

Of all the friends I have made over the years, a few stand out because of their indomitable spirit.  One of these special people is photographer Andy Marquez. Andy first came into Fine Print in 1990, carrying binders that contained hundreds of negatives. He was looking for a new printer. Having moved to Colorado recently from the east coast, I thought I detected the remnants of a NY accent in his voice. Sure enough, he had grown up in the Queens, close to where my husband grew up. That conversation started a friendship and business partnership that has spanned over 20 years.

I’ve had the opportunity to see many exotic places through Andy’s eyes – Peru, Prague, Hawaii, Israel, Chile, India, Cambodia, Australia…the list goes on and on. Many of his images have a spiritual feel – Andy has a gift for getting at the essence of a place. When he recently brought in his latest book (he has published six including this one), I was immediately drawn to the title: “The 24 Hours Before.”

This latest endeavor showcases 24 images from all over the world, and recounts the 24 hours that preceded taking the shot. Some recollections are from Andy’s journal, some are from his memory. They provide an insight into the person who is Andy Marquez. 

As much as I enjoyed the images and reading about “The 24 Hours Before”, it was the last chapter, simply called “About the Author and Photographer” that touched me. Because in this chapter, Andy takes us into his inner circle and shares his triumphs, failures, challenges and champions. Although life has thrown him enough curves to make many people throw in the towel, Andy has emerged, faith strengthened, looking forward to the future.

I recommend “The 24 Hours Before” to travelers (armchair or otherwise), photographers, artists and anyone who wants to be inspired by one photographer’s journey. Andy’s book may be purchased here.

Kate Dardine is a professional artist and Marketing Director for Fine Print Imaging.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Photo Prints or Fine Art Prints – What’s the Difference Between Our Papers and Processes?

There are several distinctions between the Fine Art papers we offer, and Lumira (digital photo prints). But it might be helpful to start with what they have in common.  Prints on both the Fine Art papers and the photo papers start out with a digital file which is then sent through a R.I.P. to a printing device. Both are archival, that is to say, will last at least 70 years without noticeable fading. The Fine Art papers (with the exception of our Presentation paper and Décor Textured paper) are more archival than the photo paper - they should last at least 100+ years before fading.

Digital photo prints are created using a digital photographic printer. Lumira is our trademarked name for the prints we produce using the ZBE Chromira 5X printer which uses LEDs to expose light sensitive paper. The exposed paper must go through wet processing (developer/bleach/fixer) for the image to show up. The technique is similar to the old darkroom process of using an enlarger to shine light through negative film onto light sensitive paper, except no negative is used and the paper is exposed from approximately one inch off the surface, which, in practical terms, means that there is no image distortion no matter how large a print is being made. Having said that, I have to clarify that the size of the digital file does have bearing on how successfully a large print can be made (and that’s the subject of a whole ‘nother article!).

No inks are used in making photographic prints; it is a chemical process using developer, bleach and fixer reacting with silver halide in the paper that creates the image after the paper has been exposed to light.  Digital photographic prints are printed in the RGB color space, which basically means red, green and blue lights are used to expose the paper.

Our Lumira digital photographic prints are produced on the top-rated Fuji Crystal Archive museum quality photo paper. These papers display superb colors, pure whites and have exceptional color image stability and sharpness. Our photo prints are rated at a minimum of 70 years before they show any signs of fading.  You have four surface choices, all of which have a smooth, slightly “shiny” appearance:

Matte has a less reflective, natural look, making it more suitable for nature photography and art reproduction.

Lustre has a semi gloss look with a slight pebble-like finish which minimizes reflections and hides fingerprints.

Gloss has a high sheen and vibrant appearance.
Pearl Gloss has pearl-like crystals that give the prints a specific luster, creating a distinctive pearl-like appearance. (Available through Fine Print Imaging full-service, not Express.)

The prints on our Fine Art papers (also called Fine Art Paper Giclées) are made using professional grade archival pigmented inks which are sprayed through tiny nozzles onto fiber papers made specifically for the process. It is the same basic technology as your home inkjet printer, just on a bigger, higher quality scale.  We use Epson printers, and, depending on which model, they have either 8 color cartridges or 9.  Inkjet printing is done in the CMYK color space - which is Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK. Our 9 color printer uses Cyan, light Cyan, Vivid Magenta, Vivid light Magenta, Yellow, light blacK, light light blacK, photo blacK and matte blacK inks to produce even gradations and tonal values, exceptional D-Max (maximum density) as well as a wide color gamut.

At Fine Print Imaging and Express, we offer five fine art papers; three premium and two economical:

Somerset Velvet is a 100% acid free heavyweight cotton rag fine art paper with a textured radiant white velvety surface. It provides vivid color reproduction and rich black tones. Somerset has long been a favorite fine art paper choice for watercolor artists. Archival museum quality. Light fastness rating of 100 years.

Fine Art Smooth is an untextured 100% acid free cotton rag, natural white, heavyweight fine art paper. It yields brilliant colors and rich Black and White prints. Great for photographic reproductions, B&W images and artwork with a lot of detail. Archival, museum quality. Light fastness rating of 100+ years.

Hahnemule Bamboo is a natural white 100% acid free heavyweight fine art paper made from fibers from highly renewable bamboo. Its warm tone and matte smooth finish combines beautiful art prints with environmental sensitivity. This is our most eco-friendly paper. Archival, museum quality. Light fastness rating of 100+ years.

Epson Presentation has exceptional color clarity and a wide tonal range. This economical smooth matte paper is suitable for both color and black and white images. Presentation paper is a bit lighter in feel than our three premium fine art papers: Somerset, Fine Art Smooth and Hahnemuhle Bamboo. It also has a slightly shorter light fastness rating of 70 years.

Décor Textured is a bright white, water-resistant textured matte paper made from the highest quality acid free and lignin free alpha cellulose (wood fibers). Specifically developed as a high quality, low cost alternative to100% cotton rag fine art papers. Contains optical brighteners.

Which process to choose depends on a number of criteria, including personal taste, budget, size of print needed, type of image (black and white? super saturated color? portrait? landscape?) and intended use (personal, for sale, donation, etc.)

If you need help deciding which paper is right for your image, feel free to call customer service at Fine Print Imaging, 800.777.1141. We would be happy to give our recommendations and/or send you samples.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meet Chris Yates: Framing Design Specialist

Does the thought of picking out mats and frames for your artwork fill you with dread? Are you overwhelmed by the choices and unsure of how to present your work to showcase the art? Sweat no more! At Colorado Frames, we are thrilled to have Chris Yates back on board after a five year hiatus to finish her degree and be at home with her baby. 

A St. Louis, MO native, Chris moved to Fort Collins with her husband nine years ago to attend Colorado State University and study landscape architecture. Back in St. Louis, she had worked as an apprentice to a custom woodworker and then as a custom framer.  “I got the job at the frame shop because of my experience with woodworking tools,” Chris explains. “During my time with Art Mart, I was trained in design, mat cutting, fitting, cutting and joining frames – all phases of framing.”

Chris started working for Colorado Frame Manufacturing soon after moving here. Her previous experience in frame design and woodworking enabled her to fit in right away. “Back then, we were still milling our own lumber and I enjoyed working with the machinery.”

Chris is passionate about design. “Whether it’s a place, a space, an object, I am always looking at the design and trying to learn something about its functionality or aesthetic. I am always educating myself, in fact, my motto is ‘if you don’t learn something every day, then it’s a waste of a day!’”.

She is also passionate about… power tools! “I’ve always loved them,” she smiles. “Even as a little kid, I was always trying to do things myself, take things apart, put them back together. I still love the challenge of doing what might be traditionally thought of as ‘male’: plumbing, carpentry, laying tile. Again, the design element excites me – and then making that design work…”

Outside of Colorado Frames, Chris enjoys time spent hiking, biking, backpacking and camping in Colorado and Wyoming with her family.

When Fine Print Imaging bought Colorado Frames, we knew we wanted to provide the community with excellent design and frames at affordable prices – using the same philosophy that made Fine Print one of the top fine art printers in the country. And we knew we needed a top notch frame designer, who also understood the importance of customer service. In walked Chris, looking to re-enter the work force. The rest, as they say, is history.

So how do you decide on the perfect frame? According to Chris, “The frame should be an extension of the art, and should really not be the first thing you notice. The perfect design enhances the art and draws the eye to the artist’s intended focal point. You can achieve that a number of ways – with color, scale and texture.”

Additionally, the customer’s personal taste, décor, and budget all come into play when designing a piece. “Because we work with a lot of artists, many of the pieces I design are going into art shows – so in that case, we have to add that into the equation. You don’t want your framing to look out of place in the venue.” So communication becomes an important tool when coming up with the right design.

A person who thrives on diversity, Chris says one of her favorite aspects about working for Colorado Frames is the variety of artwork she works with, as well as the many different tasks that fill her days – from working with a customer on a frame design to cutting mats and glass to sewing a Bronco’s jersey in a shadowbox – every day brings new challenges!



Monday, January 23, 2012

Goodness. Richness. Simplify.

We read Barney Davey’s recent blog and something in his words resonated. Instead of coming up with a list of New Year’s Resolutions, he came up with three words to serve as his guideposts during 2012. You can read his excellent blog here.

We started thinking how we at Fine Print Imaging might apply his words to our business.

The first word is Goodness. We like that word. It implies something beyond creating an excellent product. It implies a conscious effort to always do our best for our employees, for our customers, for our business, for our community and for our environment.

Those of you who’ve been with us for awhile know that this is not a “new” way of thinking for us. Since our humble beginnings 36 years ago, it has always been our intention to offer the best product, service and price to our customers.

The second word is Richness. We’re not talking about monetary wealth here, although we are not adverse to making a profit and sharing that with our employees and community. The richness we will embrace is a more abstract concept. It means we will look for and create opportunities to share our wealth – of knowledge, experience, ideas – with our customers and our community.

We’d like your feedback here. What information might we have that you would like us to share? Click here and ask away!

The third word is Simplify. Back when Fine Print first started, our business WAS simple. We had one main service – photo printing on matte Kodak paper.  We had one main type of customer – photographers who were selling their prints at outdoor arts festivals. We had one type of pricing – wholesale. Our customers had to order an average of 10 prints of the same image/size.

Fast forward to 2012 and we are more of a fine art printing department store. We offer art copy/film scanning, digital photo printing on four surfaces, ink printing on six surfaces, canvas stretching, Duraplaq mounting and mounting on gatorfoam board. Last year we added a full-service frame shop. We also have an online ordering system (Fine Print Express) and an online print gallery ( And we handle the printing, framing and shipping of gallery/museum photography exhibitions.

Our customer base has changed, too. Half of you are painters, the other half photographers. Many of you are still doing the art festival circuit but many have scaled back and some have quit. Lots of you are selling prints through galleries (unheard of 10 years ago!) and even more are selling through various online outlets – including the social networking sites. Most importantly, the way you order has changed. Many of you are taking advantage of our Express online ordering. Still others like the ease and convenience of our Full Service online order form. And while we still have a good number of customers who take advantage of our quantity pricing, a large percentage prefer to buy prints a few at a time.

So how do we simplify? In ways that directly impact you – we’ve made ordering fine art paper and un-stretched canvas giclées much easier. (Click here to see our new price chart.)We’ve become your one-stop shop for prints, mounting and framing (we can design and frame for you or we can provide you with the supplies to do it yourself). In the months ahead we’ll continue to find ways to make YOUR life simpler. 

We invite you to read Barney Davey’s blog, and think about ways that YOU might incorporate these three words into your life this year. Goodness. Richness. Simplify.