Q: How do I begin the process?
A: The first step is to obtain a high resolution digital image of your artwork or transparency. We scan your original artwork, transparencies, slides, or negatives with a state of the art Scitex scanner. If your work is already in digital form you can submit it on CD, DVD, portable drive, or upload it to our FTP site (call or e-mail for instructions.) After an image is scanned, cleaned, and color corrected, you will receive a proof on the media you've selected. Once we receive the returned proof with your comments we make the appropriate and noted changes and then print another proof. These two rounds of color proofing are included in our scan price. If you started with your own digital source files proofing is $25.00 per round. Throughout the process we continue discussing your vision and requirements in order to keep things moving in the right direction. After the proof has been approved and a final print or file has been created, it will be digitally archived on a CD or DVD and stored on site for future printing.
Q: Do you make Giclée?
A: Yes and No. The term Giclée (french for to spurt) is used to describe prints produced through any form of ink jet printing technology. Unfortunately all ink jet printers are not the same, and all Giclée is not made alike. We do not use the term as we feel it is misleading and potentially fraudulent. During the early nineties the Iris printer was the gold standard for large format digital printing. The Iris was under intense scrutiny for the problems with dye-based inks it used. The term Giclée was coined in an effort to obfuscate these problems. It was popularized by those who wanted find a new, more panache term for a process that was being derided. The term is currently used by print shops and artists to describe what many believe to be a brand name or proprietary type of printing. This is not the case. Not all Giclée is created equal. We feel that there needs to be truth in advertising, so we call our prints what they are. We use the two highest quality digital print processes currently available, the Iris printer and the Roland Hi-Fi Jet Pro II. If a print was produced on an Iris printer, it's an "Iris print". If it was produced on a Roland pigment printer it is a "Roland digital pigment print". Companies and publishers selling Giclée can and do produce lower quality prints on inferior ink jet systems and the customer may not truly know what they are buying. Calling a print a Giclée does not change the fact that it was produced on a specific type of printer and the customer deserves to know what that printer is.
Q: What is the longevity of digital prints?
A: This is one of the most volatile issues surrounding digital printmaking. While no one can say definitively exactly how long a particular print will last, a staggering amount of research has been done on the subject. RIT and Wilhelm Research Institute have both conducted independent studies on the lightfastness of various paper and ink combinations. RIT and Wilhelm Imaging Research both use high dosage fluorescent lighting to predict how long an ink might last in low doses of fluorescent lighting. Their tests however, do not give any indication of how an ink would perform when exposed to gallery lighting and ambient or direct sunlight. Xenon testing, while being much more expensive to use, represents more realistically the full spectrum of light that inks are exposed to such as sunlight, incandescent, and fluorescent. Their tests were made with full-spectrum Xenon light at 1000 hours to better imitate the conditions in which prints fade (high levels of illumination). The Carbon Pigment that is used here is designed to perform without perceptible fade and color shifting in equivalent tests which give greater than 100 year longevity ratings to inks which have perceptible amounts of fade. As tempting as it is, we refrain from interpolating our less than perceptible fade into years. We're happy with less than perceptible fade.
Q: In digital printing are pigments preferable to dye?
A: In most cases. Dyes are synthetic, they are frequently unstable and most susceptible to fading. We have a deep concern for permanence and durability. With our digital pigment printing and carbon-based printing a pigment-based ink set is used. Pigments (derived from minerals) have stood the test of time. Pigment is a finely ground, particulate substance which, when mixed or ground into a liquid to make ink or paint, does not dissolve, but remains dispersed or suspended in the liquid. Pigments are categorized as either inorganic (mineral) or organic (synthetic).
Q: What materials can you print on?
A: We can print on virtually any absorbant printing material. We are committed to using the most archival materials available. At UDC we stock an array of archival fine art papers, canvas, silk, duratrans, vinyl, and films. If we don't have what you're looking for on hand, we can usually track it down.
Q: How big can you print?
A: We can print on material from 74 inch wide rolls -- so theoretically 74 inches by 100+ feet. Usually the maximum print size is determined by the material you want to print on. Generally cotton rag papers are at most 60 inches wide with some like Hahnemuhle limited to 44 or 47 inch wide rolls. There are some wider canvases and coated papers.
Q: How do I determine the best way to produce my images?
A: At UDC we have a expert team that is happy to discuss your project with you to determine the best solution to your specific needs. Each artist that works with us brings with them new challenges. We are interested in finding the most creative solutions to your project. We have years of experience consulting with artists, dealers, and publishers. Call us and we'll set up a time for you to drop in.