Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time is on My Side...Or Not

Back in July of this year, I cut back my hours at Fine Print Imaging, where I’ve worked for the past 26 plus years.  I am now working Monday – Wednesday at Fine Print, while Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for my art business.
I think somewhere in my head I believed that I would have so much time to paint in these two days. And so much time to devote to marketing my work. And so much time to build relationships with other artists.  The first month I got absolutely nothing art related done on my “art days.”  In my defense, I just moved  into a new home, and that first month was spent trying to find stuff. 
So now, after a month of devoting those two days a week to art I am laughing at my naïve self!
“So much time” seems to fly by quickly, especially if I get caught up in the distractions of having my studio in my home.  Distractions like laundry, Facebook, yard work, Pinterest, etc. – all things I do to avoid staring at the blank canvas or the blank blog post.  Oddly, it was one distraction – Pinterest – which was an “aha” moment for me
A schedule.  Not the kind of schedule I would have made for myself, which would have been a “nose to the grindstone, get up at 6 AM and paint until noon…take ½ hour break…get back in studio and paint until 4” kind of schedule.  Which is not the way my creative mind works, but is the way my “inner boss” wants it.  No, this schedule accommodates shorter “work times” interspersed with thinking time and reading time and exercise time and meeting friends for lunch time.

So for now my Thursday/Friday schedule looks something like this:

7:00 AM – 8:30AM.  Walk dog.  Yoga/meditation. Breakfast.
8:30 – 9:00  Email correspondence
9:00 – 10:30  Painting
10:30 – 11:00 Laundry/etc.
11:00 – 12:30 Painting
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch/walk dog/ read, etc.
1:30 – 3:00 “Marketing” (writing my blog or newsletter, posting to Facebook, designing postcards, etc.
3:00 – 5:00 "Flex time" - errands, painting, marketing, as needed.

This may be subject to change – after all, one of the great things about working for oneself is the ability to be flexible. If I want to drive down to the Denver Art Museum one day, I can. If I want to meet someone for lunch I can.  But what the schedule does is give me a framework and helps keep me on track.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you want to see the “pin” that helped me organize my day, go to www.pinterest.com/katedardine,  and look on my “other cool stuff” board. (Someday I’ll organize my Pinterest boards better. Probably the same time I get all my old photos out of boxes and put them in albums. Ha!)

How do you juggle your art business with your "day job", family, other interests? Do you have a schedule? 

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 26 years. She is currently the newsletter editor and new customer liaison at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is www.katedardine.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Art Copy Matters

by Kate Dardine

Every day I field questions from prospective customers. The number one question from artists is: Can you print from my digital file?  The answer to that question is a definitive…maybe. Sometimes the artist will say, “It looks great on my monitor, so I’m sure it’ll print ok.”  The problem is, even though the image looks good viewed on your computer screen, doesn’t mean it will print well.  Why?  Because your monitor displays images at 72 ppi (pixels per inch) while printing resolution is 300 ppi. So if you have a file that is say, 15 x 30 at 72 ppi, once it is converted to printing resolution, 300 ppi, it becomes a 3.6 x 7.2.  Not exactly a large print!

If you use the best materials to create your artwork, and you are going to invest in getting prints of your work, why wouldn’t you want to start with the very best scan possible? Yes, it is an added expense. But unless you are an experienced photographer with good equipment, you will save money in the long run and gain peace of mind AND a high quality digital file that can be used for creating beautiful prints that do your painting justice.

If you don’t want to send your artwork, I recommend you find a local professional photographer who is knowledgeable about the art of art copy. At the very least, the photographer should have a studio set up with daylight balanced lights, a tripod and a DSLR camera. At Fine Print Imaging we use a Betterlight® Super 6K2 digital scan-back with a Calumet 4x5 view camera, equipped with a Rodenstock 240mm lens to take ultra-high resolution Direct Digital capture of your art work.
This camera, lens and scan-back system is set up under daylight balanced studio lighting (we use the North Light HID copy light system) and literally scans the art, capturing all the nuances of your original; the highlights, shadow details, brush strokes and even the texture of the canvas or paper is captured in stunning detail. A scan can take up to 15 minutes and produces up to a 300mb file.

If you are still sure you want to do it yourself, and your artwork is small, this You Tube video will give you tips on the best way to capture your artwork. Bear in mind that the resulting file will most likely need adjustment in a photo editing program such as Photoshop or Picasa to more accurately represent your original. Also, keep in mind that unless you have a newer, calibrated monitor, chances are what looks “correct” on your screen may look much different on our calibrated monitors. And, two last caveats: 1.) if you are shooting your own artwork, and it is larger than 11x14, you will most likely not be able to make quality prints at the original size and 2.) if your camera is an older digital point and shoot, the lens and sensor may not be of a high enough quality to create a sharp image.

Compare prices. In many cases, Fine Print’s art copy costs are less than what your local photographer charges – and for a significantly better file. And, with our premier art copy scans, you get a color-corrected proof on your choice of substrates to use for your portfolio or as a guide for future prints. Give us a call and let us know what you need. We can probably get you set up for much less than you’ve imagined.

Want more info on our art copy services? Visit our website, email us or give us a call (800.777.1141). We’re always happy to help!

 Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 26 years. She is currently the newsletter editor and new customer liaison at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is www.katedardine.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Look Back

by Kate Dardine

As many of you know, I’ve been a part of Fine Print Imaging for a long time. I started out in 1989 as a part-time “spotter.”  These were in the days before digital printing, when we printed from negatives.  Instead of printing onto sheets of photo paper, we utilized large rolls of 11”, 20” and 30” wide paper.  After being exposed and wet processed, the rolls came through the dryer and had to be caught up on a cardboard core and rolled.  Then the individual prints had to be trimmed off the roll, counted and spotted.  When printing from negatives, sometimes dust falls onto the negative during exposure, which results in white spots on the print. The “spotters” would use Kodak photo retouch dyes to paint in the spots, making them disappear. It was painstaking, sometimes grueling – but FUN work (at least for me)!

Along with catching, trimming, counting and spotting prints, my job also entailed packaging print orders and shipping. After a few years, I moved into customer service, where I took in and scheduled orders, organized negatives and guide prints and started our monthly newsletter.  Fast forward a few more years to the late ‘90’s and my job changed again as I concentrated on bringing in new customers, following up with current customers and teaching our customers about marketing their work and about that new-fangled technology, digital printing.  At that time we started using the IRIS printer and dye-based inks.  Not long after that, we bought our first Chromira digital photo printer and the ICG drum scanner.  As the technology for ink printing improved, we up-graded to the Roland printer, and now print with Epson wide-format ink printers.  We no longer print from negatives – having closed up the last of our darkrooms a few years ago.

Even the way our customers can order has undergone metamorphosis. “Back in the day” customers could mail in orders, or phone them in. Then we got a new-fangled machine and we could accept FAXed orders! A little while later, email orders. Now fine folks can mail, phone, email, use our online order form or utilize our completely online ordering system, Fine Print Express!
The point to all this being, that over the years, there have been lots of changes as Fine Print grows and integrates new technologies – but one of the things that hasn’t changed is our company-wide  dedication to bringing you the very best, archival reproductions at the very best price. And to give you the very best customer service while doing it.  Many of us have been here for over 20 years.  At 26-1/2 years, I’ve been here the longest, and have probably assumed more “hats” than anyone else – with the exception of Mark Lukes – Fine Print’s Maintenance Engineer, IT Specialist and President/CEO.

And the point to THAT is…I have decided to reduce my hours at Fine Print to part time in order to pursue my other love – painting.  I am grateful for Fine Print’s support as I take this step into what will eventually be a full-time business.  I hope you will follow along with my progress in my monthly blog posts, and I hope I can impart some of what I learn to help those of you considering making the leap. (Of course, my leap is more like walking up to my belly in the waters of full-time painting!) 

Kate Dardine has been helping artists and photographers with their art businesses for over 26 years. She is now transitioning to full-time art and invites you to follow along on the journey. www.katedardine.com    www.fineprintimaging.com