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Creating a Fine Art Reproduction from an Original Painting Creating a fine art reproduction (or replication) of an artist’s original painting is a science and an art. A high quality replication requires the finest materials, the newest and most exacting technology, and the knowledge and creativity to meld the two using only a flat substrate and ink or pigment. It is not enough to match the painting color for color; it must “feel” and the “read” just like the original painting. Substrates are the paper or canvas upon which the image is printed. The inks or pigments are the coloring agents that form the image on the substrate.

Technology is changing constantly, so it is important to control it so as to achieve consistency throughout the edition and throughout the body of an artist’s work.

Paintings are shipped to the printing house and are stored in an high-security, fire-proofed vault when they are not in use.

It is ideal to have access to the original painting for several weeks or months so that it can be photographed directly and the resulting digital files can be managed, proofed, and compared to the painting countless times until a complete match is accomplished.

The color technician mounts the original painting so that it can be photographed.

Because no two people see color in exactly the same way, the human element is very important in the process. It is highly desirable to have the color technician, the production manager, and the artist as closely aligned as possible. It is not enough to “see� that a color needs to be adjusted; you have to be able to communicate the necessary changes that must be made for the perfect color match.

The painting is captured (photographed) and the digital file is sent directly to the color technician.

Values, contrast and the density of color can be as important as achieving the correct color match to the original. The eye must travel around the replicated image in exactly the same way as it does when viewing the original painting.

Color technicians work with the managing and capture (digital file) altering it to more closely match the original painting .

Many proofs are created, each moving closer to the look of the original, which is shown here on the far left. The most recent proof is always positioned to the right of the painting and is compared to the original by the printer’s color technician and the Somerset Fine Art production manager.

The giclee on canvas is inspected, dried, and coated. Then it is inspected (or curated) one final time before it is shipped to Somerset Fine Art.

What is a Giclée? The giclée is a relatively new form of fine art reproduction. Although the process was created by a group of artists in Southern California in the mid- 1980’s, the term giclée (pronounced zhee-clay) is a combination of two French words that mean “the spraying of ink”. Initially, most giclées were made using an Iris printer, a four-color device. The first inks were made with dyes and were not specifically developed for the fine art market.

Today the newer inkjet technologies have introduced the capability to not only use much more permanent pigment-based inks, but also to use anywhere from six to eight colors. A giclĂŠe printer produces over four million droplets of ink per second; those micro-droplets combine to form more than two thousand shades of color.

After many days and many proofs, the giclĂŠe on canvas is finally an exact match to the original and is ready for production.

The increased color gamut that is achievable with these types of printers has taken the quality of the giclée print to new levels. The latest generations of pigmented inks have been third-party tested to be stable in the range of 100-150 years, depending on the substrate used, and have permitted a quality level that equals or exceeds that of serigraphy.

The giclée printing area has numerous printing units. It is kept very clean so dirt particles don’t adhere to the giclées as they print out.

In addition, it is true that a high-quality giclée print is far superior in terms of color gamut to that of a standard four-color, offset lithographic print created on a traditional printing press.

The color technician discusses the giclée with the printing technician making him aware of any potential problems that could occur.

Once the color has been attained, each giclée is printed individually and may take several hours depending on its size. Once the process is complete, a protective UV coating is applied to the surface. Each giclée is inspected for printing defects and color accuracy by professional curators at the printing house and again when it arrives at Somerset Fine Art.

Giclées are printed one-at-a-time and may take hours to print.

Giclées are printed on two substrates: canvas and paper. Paper giclées must be framed without glass as you would frame an original painting. Regardless of the substrate and framing, giclées should be treated as you would treat a painting. They should be cleaned with dry, soft cloth and should be hung away from direct or strong sunlight and heat sources.

With proper care and handling, Somerset Fine Art giclĂŠes, made with the best pigmented inks and substrates, can be enjoyed for generations.

Once the giclĂŠes arrive at Somerset Fine Art, they are inspected before being delivered to the galleries.

What is an Offset Print? An offset lithographic print is the type of reproduction that has been common in the art market since its inception in 1962. The fine art image is printed using offset lithography, which is a technique that utilizes inks carried by rubber rollers (called blankets) to transfer the images from metal plates to the paper. Somerset Fine Art utilizes a fine, archival paper or canvas. In the fine art printing process, Somerset Fine Art has employed as many as 28 colors to bring the reproduction as close as possible to the original painting.

Offset paper and canvas prints are printed on a large offset press.

Once a match is attained, the color technician gives approval to the press men to begin the run. All prints are printed at one time.

Press men can walk along the side of the press. They pull sheets each time changes are made and take the new sheet to the color viewing area so that the technician and the production manager can make changes or give their approval for the print run to begin.

After they dry, they are again viewed and additional colors may be required to match the original, meaning another pass through the press - or possibly several more passes. When the match is judged perfect, the print run is ready to be inspected and trimmed.

While the press is running, the pressman constantly inspects offset sheets to make certain that proper color is maintained and that there are no imperfections in the printed image.

Professional inspectors, called curators, compare each print side-by-side to the approved color target print to ensure the print run is consistent in color and quality. Defective prints are destroyed and only perfect prints are trimmed.

Each print is packaged in an acid-free jacket to protect it. Prints on paper must be matted and covered by glass when framed. All offset prints should be hung far from strong or direct sunlight. If they are to be stored unframed for any period of time, they should be kept in their jackets and enclosed in foam core or other acid free packaging.

Creating Canvas Transfers Canvas transfers are created by hand from prints on paper. Somerset developed a process for the printing of prints that will become canvas transfers - a process that takes into consideration the changes that occur during the transfer process and adjusts the print so that it matches the original painting after the transfer is completed.

In the transfer process, the paper print is covered with and bonded to a clear film. The print and attached film are then immersed in a liquid bath where they remain until the paper softens. The print is then taken from the bath and the paper is removed from the back leaving only the ink of the image on the clear film..

The film is then dried and a canvas is prepared with an adhesive so that the clear film holding the ink image adheres to the canvas. Again, they are bonded together to form a canvas image that will be stretched as a painting would be.

Each canvas transfer is handled individually in this process. The clear film on the face of the canvas image offers protection so canvas transfers are framed without glass. A soft cloth can be used to clean the surface of the artwork.

Certificates of Authenticity Every Somerset Fine Art limited edition is signed and numbered and arrives with a Certificate of Authenticity, which guarantees the edition size and that the print is the only print with that number in the edition. Certificates of Authenticity are printed on acid-free paper so they may be stored safely within the jacket of paper prints. It is advisable to request that the Certificate of Authenticity be attached to the back of a limited edition to maintain its collectibility.


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