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03-04-2009, 08:16 PM   #1
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Cibachrome prints

Hey Ron, Where do you have your big (30"x40") Cibachromes made? Have you ever compared them to a 6x7 slide that was drum scanned and printed digitally?

03-05-2009, 10:33 AM   #2
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I use The Lab Ciba in Hollywood. Frank is very good with custom work--for a price. Previously, for machine prints with Ilfochrome I used Holland Photo. The pricing there is great, but mounting options are limited and unnacceptable to me...and yes, I've had some mounting problems show up after 10 years or so--bubbling, extra "texture" coming out... Currently, I have everything mounted either on aluminum plate or plexiglass to avoid the "orange peel" texture of mounting on fiberboard or foamcore. This adds appx $150 per print to the costs, plus shipping has to be in crates rather than rolled up in tubes adding another $50 or so per print. Why use the most ridiculously glossy medium ever invented and then mount it in a way that detracts from the gloss? (look at any mounted photo from an accute angle and you'll see "orange peel" texture on 99% of them--including wall art selling for $5000. And on museum pieces. That may prove that "orange peel" is acceptable...I won't go there...).

Note that I'm only this picky about art pieces. When a customer buys a framed 30x40 print for $2495, I owe it to them to use the best possible methods that will remain high quality for the longest period. Images for magazines or websites etc., I'm pretty unconcerned about stuff most folks would fret over--dusty scans, problems with dynamic range, finger prints--all ho hum for me EXCEPT WALL ART.

I have had hundreds of images drum scanned but only for magazine or advertising use, never for wall art (I was the senior editor of a full-color glossy magazine where we drum scanned every image including lots of my own). I'm not into the digital print thing--not even a little tiny wee bit.

I don't want to get into the big "issues" comparing how good digital prints have become. They truly are quite nice nowadays. Still, nothing compares to Ilfochrome glossy prints (Ciba sold out to Ilford). They are the industry standard for gloss--almost liquid; for color--unbelievable pop; for archivability--museum certified for multi-century archivability, etc. Ilfochrome is the gold standard by which most quality digital methods are compared. Lots of other options exist, some of them quite good, but I'm not interested. In this world of "early adopters" and "recent upgrades" I'm what my printer, Frank, calls "quaint." It's a stylistic choice I've made--and now I don't have to try to keep up with all the new developments in digital printing. Not relevant to my life...wheww!

I'm off my soap box now...good luck with your prints. I'm sure they'll come out great no matter what system you choose. There's nothing like a big print to really make this hobby fun!
03-05-2009, 11:42 AM   #3
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w/ digital, the significance of prints has diminished unfortunately
03-05-2009, 11:47 AM   #4
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That's most definitely true--unless you are selling fine art that case, any way to position your art prints above other art prints is quite important.

03-05-2009, 07:17 PM   #5
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Ron, So you see the fact that your prints are Cibachromes (OK, Ilfochrome classic, they'll always be Cibachrome to me) as an advantage in the fine art market? I have heard that for B&W fine art prints, a traditional silver gelatin print is more desirable than an inkjet.
03-06-2009, 09:07 AM   #6
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I only "loosely" follow the B&W fine art market, and from my understanding your perception regarding more traditional printing methods seems accurate. In fact, my understanding is that the B&W fine art market prefers traditional printing processes where the color market is far more open-minded to digital printing methods. Of course, fame is the moderator of all this...someone like Robert Glenn Ketchum can print any way he wants and will still have museums and other buyers lined up to buy.

My personal approach of sticking with the old standby Ciba/Ilfochrome may not be the best approach for others. Before investing in fine art chrome inventory--which adds up fast when you need several dozen images framed and ready for shows--I did extensive research on the various price-points available to art consumers and the type of sales that would be necessary to make it worth doing...Here's a cheap "fingers and toes" math example: If you want to earn just above the poverty level annually...say $50,000 that requires that you sell 50 art pieces with $1000 profit in each. Or 500 art pieces with $100 profit in each. Or 5000 art pieces with $10 profit in each. So the street vendor art shows selling prints for $25 or $50--that's out for me. I just don't have the time in my life to try to sell thousand and thousands of pictures each year to make a pittance. Since higher quality and higher end art processes--like Ilfochromes mounted on aluminum plate--sell for far greater figures, even if your profit margin is a small percentage, you can sell less total images, yet still realize earnings. Also, there tends to be far less competition at the top of the price range...not many artists are crazy enough to go through the expense and trouble of plate mounting chromes and triple thick matting, gallery frames etc. Note also that I do this as a hobby and a sideline to my real life, so I don't have the time to devote to selling several prints per day to realize earnings. I can sell several prints per year and it's a nice adjunct to my real job. Plus, when you "spare no expense" on the final art print, you have an easier time representing it as art and not just "pictures." That can open doors to shows in museums and such and gives you a chance to show in high-end galleries.

Try this...go to the 3 highest-end, ritzy, pricey art galleries in your town or area. Look at prices...why heck, they don't offer hardly anything for under $500 and most of their pieces are priced from $1000 on up. Wall art sized images, paintings, tapestries etc. seem to be more like $2000 on up...the very nicest galleries don't even seem to have anything available for less than $5000. So if you keep prices down with lesser printing and framing processes, you probably are keeping yourself out of the nicer galleries by default. And by the way, you need to plan in 40% for the gallery on each sale. They don't show and sell your work for free!

So just because my marketing plan involves chrome prints doesn't mean that's what anybody else should do. But making a marketing plan that factors in things like how much you can invest in framed inventory and what your intended market is should be part of any venture you undertake for profit.


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