The end result of photography is not as it used to be. In the days of film photography the only way the photographer could view the image was as an actual printed photograph or sit in a darkened room and
view a slide show. If the processed photo was excellent the photographer might consider an enlargement for display. Unless the photographer had access to a dark room the film and print were created by “photo labs”. The photographer usually did not have much input into how the image was processed and developed. The only way others could view or enjoy the work of the photographer was to actually be there and view the physical print or the slide show. Occasionally, professional photographers were published in magazines and were able to share their work with a larger audience. Most photos, however, were developed, printed to a small format and then stuck in a drawer and forgotten.
Digital imaging and the internet have changed everything. Photographers can now share their work with the entire world. Through social media sites like Flickr, Smugmug, Facebook or email photographers can display their work and get feedback. With tools like Photoshop, Lightroom or Picasa the photographic artist can enhance, create and process his work in the “digital darkroom”. With the cost of film development eliminated, an artist can be as prolific as she wants to be. One need never create an actual print to consider oneself a digital photographic artist. As one develops as a photographic artist in this digital age, the mastery of imaging software is the first step in becoming a fine art photographer.
There comes a time, however, when the photographer wants to have an actual print. Whether it is to enter competitions and art shows or to hang on the wall, the printing of one’s digital work is a logical next step. Often there is a surprise and disappointment when the resulting print does not come close to matching the image on the computer screen. The photographer then realizes that there is another element to learn in this process. There are many factors that effect digital imaging output. From defining and working in a color space to specifying profiles for the print media, the variables in printing can be daunting and mysterious.
In this three part discussion, we will start with image capture, processing and color space. Part two will discuss media profiles, screen calibration and print drivers and software, part three will cover the printing process, printers and media.
Have you signed up to be counted in NEFA’s CultureCount? NEFA (New England Foundation for the Arts) is a enormous resource for anyone in the arts in New England. If you are an artist, run a creative business or represent a cultural nonprofit you should be counted. Click here to find out why you should be listed. http://www.culturecount.org/public/whycreate.aspx
CultureCount is a free creative economy database. CultureCount is a centralized source of descriptive, financial, demographic, and geographic information about cultural nonprofits, businesses, and professionals in New England.
CultureCount provides a comprehensive representation of the creative economy of New England that supports the advocacy, fundraising, cultural analysis, and policy development efforts of artists, cultural organizations, researchers, and policy makers. CultureCount users can log on to discover cultural organizations, explore their communities, and analyze economic impact.
Last week I had the great opportunity to attend the NEFA’s (New England Foundation for the Arts) Creative Community Exchange in North Adams. This event, hosted by Mass MoCA and Berkshire Creative, focused on how development of creative spaces and creative economies has benefited towns and regions throughout New England.
The event was made up of workshops presented by cultural and creative community leaders. The presenters focused on the successful implementation of developing the creative economy in their towns, cities or regions. With four different workshops in each session time slot, it was a difficult choice to decide which workshops to attend.
On Wednesday, May 18 the activities began with a tour of Mass MoCA lead by Joe Thompson, Director of Mass MoCA. This was an intimate look behind the scenes. It was wonderful to hear the story of space and exhibit development from such a knowledgeable person.
Thursday, May 19 was the start of the actual event. A marvelous breakfast was served to attendees. After a brief welcome we went to our chosen workshops. The first one I attended was the Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP). It was about the art challenges of a rural community and how developing the arts in Rockingham VT brought culture and economic growth to the area. The next session, Pittsfield Dept of Community Development: Downtown Renaissance was truly inspiring. How a city of 44,000 with minimal art and culture presence was able to develop a thriving and healthy creative economy was the focus of this workshop. After a delightful lunch, there were three more workshops. These covered developing creative partnerships and how small towns developed “Down Street” art centers.
Friday, May 20 started with another great breakfast followed by a “Spark” event designed to stimulate networking. The workshops followed. For the ending events an outstanding meal was provided with awards and speakers. Most notable among the speakers was National Endowment For the Arts Chairman, Rocco Landesman. He is a powerful speaker with a meaningful message. His slogan, “Art Works” has inspired me.
I made several connections at this event. I hope to be able to implement some of the ideas presented in our region and I do hope to be able to attend future events of this kind. If anyone is interested in a more in depth discussion of what I learned, please phone me or send me an email and we can delve more fully into this exciting subject.
Finding someone to reproduce your artwork may seem like an easy thing to do. Google “giclée” and 20 million hits come up. You might narrow the field down by adding your region (“giclée Western Mass” has only 27,000 hits), but the numbers are still daunting. Finding the right printer for your artwork is like finding the right doctor or the right insurance company. I suggest that you work with someone who, if not local, is still close enough so you can meet with them and see their operation. As an artist you put many hours into your work. You want to find someone who appreciates your effort, respects your work and makes you the best possible reproduction. Asking the right questions can help you evaluate the printer. The following is a list of questions that I feel are the most important.
What is your back ground in printing? In art? In digital technology?
Are you able to give references of satisfied customers?
What techniques do you use for image capture, printing, finishing?
What products or brands do you use for printing and why do you choose those products?
Do you guarantee your work and do you stand behind your product?
This is not a complete list of questions but they are a starting point. You are building a relationship with your printer. You want to know and trust that individual to handle your work with professionalism and competence. Your prints will reflect you as an artist and as a professional. Know your product. If your customers ask you about the digital or giclée process you want to be able to answer with authority and confidence. No one expects everyone to be an expert, (that is why you go to a giclée printer) but you should be knowledgeable enough to be able to state why your giclée prints are worth the price you charge.
Arts and crafts festivals are one way to market your art or fine art craft. For some artists this is a way of life. For others it is a good way to supplement their art income by doing a few shows each year. It can be a grueling and exhausting, yet for some artists it is very profitable. If you think your work would sell well in the festival setting, try out a few local venues. An online site, Art Fairs Calendar.com, has an extensive listing of art festivals. http://www.artfaircalendar.com/art_fair/new-england-art-fairs.html Many of the on-line listing sites charge membership fees for information on festivals and calls for entry. Subscribing to one or more may be worth the fees in the time saved by searching. However, if you wish to enter or attend a specific show or two, paid subscriptions are likely not worth the expense. Most venues have on-line information and applications forms.
Now is the time to start your applications, if you wish to participate in the 2011 season. Most summer shows have March or even earlier deadlines. If you have not participated in a festival be prepared. Start with small local venues, unjuried if you are new to the process. Go to the shows you would like to enter and get a feel for the set-up and ask the participants how they are doing. Find shows where your art fits in.