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Author Topic: What defines a Fine Art printer?  (Read 20240 times)

Jeff Grant

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What defines a Fine Art printer?
« on: February 18, 2015, 09:57:38 pm »

Over the years I have seen many images described as fine art. Lots of competitions have fine art categories, but that seems to equate to weird many times. There are also many people printing who call themselves fine art printers. Some claim to have special tools, others claim years of experience but I have never been able to see or read what it is that makes the 'fine art' tag applicable.

I'm not trying to start any sort of troll, I'm just interested in what is behind the tag.
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David Sutton

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 10:50:02 pm »

To quote Bierce:  "DISCUSSION, n. A method of confirming others in their errors. "
Google "fine art definition" and you will get there faster than the above route.
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Jeff Grant

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2015, 11:02:01 pm »

David,

I know what it is. I'd like to know how one can reach the position, and know that they have.
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hugowolf

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2015, 11:10:24 pm »

It is really a 'fine art quality' printer. In other words a printer capable of printing fine art. In a similar way to fine art pigment oils or acrylics, it doesn't mean you are going to create fine art.

Brian A
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Jeff Grant

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2015, 11:20:59 pm »

So it is a person who can produce an aesthetically pleasing print. Here's a Wiki definition: In Western European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics, distinguishing it from applied art that also has to serve some practical function.

Given the tools that are readily available today, so we can all produce excellent profiles on excellent papers and print with excellent printers. Is it someone who can make a better print? If so how would they do it, and how would they know? Maybe we are all fine art printers already.
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bill t.

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2015, 01:28:04 am »

Fine art is what's left over when you have eliminated all the medium and coarse art.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2015, 01:32:19 am »

I sometimes describe myself as a fine art photographer, not because I want to claim that I am an Artist (with a capital "A"), but rather to indicate what I am not: wedding, sports, passport, forensic, etc. photographer. By the same token, I assume "fine art" printer means not business card, flyer, brochure, etc. printer. That's my pragmatic point of view. I have no doubts some will correct me with a loftier definition  :)

Geraldo Garcia

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2015, 01:35:34 am »

What defines a fine art printer?
Focus. Doing that and just that.
When someone says he is a fine art printer I expect the following:
1) He only prints art. No "express printing service", no banners, no advertisement pieces. Just art.
2) He does that for living, it's not a hobby.
3) He uses the best equipment, inks and paper to deliver the best image quality and the longevity expected when producing a piece of art.
4) He is versed in art and has the ability to understand the expectations of his clients and helps them to achieve their goals.

That is just the minimum to be called a fine art printer IMHO.
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David Sutton

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2015, 01:38:06 am »

I have a bad feeling about where this will head, but I'll attempt an opinion.
Slobodan's and Geraldo's answers are as good as any.
I began with a cheap Epson multi-function printer which I profiled for papers that interested me and used long sheets cut from rolls to overcome the A4 limitation. I'm still pleased with some of those prints, I just can't let sunlight get to them as the ink is fugitive.
If you live in a place that has good galleries you can look at prints from the inception of photography onwards, and create your own language to describe what you see and what is fine about the image. If you get stuck then collar a staff member, back them into a corner and ask them to explain.
Once you have your own words to describe what you see then ask if you have realised in print what was in your mind's eye. If you haven't got an idea of what you want to see then print more and visit more galleries. Form a small print group and meet once a month to discuss your prints or find a few people whose opinion you trust and show them your work regularly until you know.
I know some very good photographers who carefully profile their papers and have the best monitors and printers they can get (and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM) in order to make their workflow easier.
I know of others who say that while it's nice to know that the nozzles are working and so on, the idea that we are in control and can predict an outcome is totally counter to a creative process and that working artists have to figure stuff out, they need a visceral response to to things that are visual and work out how to realise it and screw the colour space and the profiles. To quote Renior: "Recipes are for slaves".
I don't think your question is clear. Are you wondering if your bits of ink on a piece of paper are as technically good as someone else's bits of ink on paper? Or are you wondering about the "art" bit?  My suggestion to the former is put your work out into the world. And for the latter answer the question whether your motive has been made real or have you wobbled about.
David
« Last Edit: February 19, 2015, 03:06:31 am by David Sutton »
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Jeff Grant

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2015, 02:45:54 am »

Slobodan and Geraldo, thanks. That helps me and ties in with the definition that I posted.

David, You are not alone. I wondered where it would go myself. I think that anyone printing who doesn't worry about nozzles has a hard road ahead. I'm not wondering whether my work is a good as anyone else's, and I do try to get my work seen by others. I'm happy with the prints that I make.

I really did ask the question in all innocence. I see many people describing themselves as fine art printers. I asked the question in the hope that I may get an understanding of what it really means. So far, I've got a good idea from the responses. Not surprisingly, if I go back and look at some of the claimants, I suspect that they may not qualify.
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Chairman Bill

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2015, 04:24:51 am »

I must say that I do f***ing like the f***ing idea of being a c*******ing, m*********ing coarse f***ing artist, you b******s!

SanderKikkert

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2015, 05:49:54 am »

 :D :D I see what you did there Bill... ::)

"Coarse"
adjective, coarser, coarsest.

1.composed of relatively large parts or particles:
The beach had rough, coarse sand.

2.lacking in fineness or delicacy of texture, structure, etc.:
The stiff, coarse fabric irritated her skin.

3.harsh; grating.

4.lacking delicacy, taste, or refinement; unpolished:
He had coarse manners but an absolutely first-rate mind.

5.of inferior or faulty quality; common; base.

6.vulgar; obscene; crude:
His coarse language angered us.

7.(of metals) unrefined.

8.(of a metal file) having the maximum commercial grade of coarseness.

Origin
1550-1560
1550-60; earlier cors(e), course, cowarce; of obscure origin
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jferrari

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2015, 07:30:02 am »

I call myself a fine art printer and until someone can say "No you're not because..." then I'm sticking to it. When someone defines the "because..." then you'll have your answer. Or, like Bill T. said, you can refer to it like sandpaper. e.g. "I produce 100 to 120 grit art."  ;D
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MHMG

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2015, 09:48:37 am »

You don't make fine art prints unless your art gallery calls them "Giclee's" ;D
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PeterAit

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2015, 10:09:00 am »

Over the years I have seen many images described as fine art. Lots of competitions have fine art categories, but that seems to equate to weird many times. There are also many people printing who call themselves fine art printers. Some claim to have special tools, others claim years of experience but I have never been able to see or read what it is that makes the 'fine art' tag applicable.


Fine art printers wear berets.

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jferrari

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2015, 10:15:20 am »

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Paul Roark

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2015, 10:54:28 am »

One of Andy Warhol's often repeated quotes is that "Art is whatever you can get away with."

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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JRSmit

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2015, 11:44:22 am »

I call myself an fine art printer. I use this to differentiate myself from other printing firms or printing studios. i go for the best possible quality prints, offer a large suite of papers, and flexibility to seamlessly connect with photogs and digital artists. Regarding the quality of prints i seek the maximum quality, of which sense of depth is a key one. Bottom line: a print must result in a " physical experience" of getting drawn into the image and get all kinds of associations .This is the connection with fine-art. As Fine-Art at the end of the day is about experiencing whatever the artist is aiming at.
As Fine Art printer i thus complement the artist in the last phase: from a digital master pice to a physical master piece, to achieve the "WOOW" from the customer.
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dwswager

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2015, 11:47:00 am »

Over the years I have seen many images described as fine art. Lots of competitions have fine art categories, but that seems to equate to weird many times. There are also many people printing who call themselves fine art printers. Some claim to have special tools, others claim years of experience but I have never been able to see or read what it is that makes the 'fine art' tag applicable.

I'm not trying to start any sort of troll, I'm just interested in what is behind the tag.

It's marketing language to distinguish from other types of more commercial printing.  Typically it is intended to convey that the printer (and customers) are interested in quality and uniqueness instead of quantity and price.

Since this is a photography forum, it is important to understand that photography has always been separated from art.  Art was considered an act of creation from the mind while photography was technical capture from the real world.  Even though 2 photographers could capture the same view and end up with very different looking prints, photographers were never really considered artists.  This gave photographers an inferiority complex and so was born Fine Art Photography.

Some people will say that it has to do with the materials used (must use cotton rag matte paper), the techniques, the tools (must use the best equipment) etc.    Some might even say it deals with the output quantity.  Print an item once and it is fine art.  Let the printer run and print 500 and it is commercial printing.

Slobadon was on to something when he says he is a fine art photographer.  Most photography has a purpose: Wedding, journalism, advertising, etc.  I consider fine art photography to be that photography which exists solely because of the artistic beauty it embodies.  If we extend that to the printer, then a fine art printer is someone that makes printed pieces that exist merely for the purpose of expressing artistic vision. 

I have two 12 x 20 images hanging in my house that are from the same raw file.  One is a photographic representation and the other an HDR impression.  While very different, they both have their own artistic qualities.  Both have some of ME in them, but the HDR has more of ME.  Is one Fine Art and the other not?  Is neither Fine Art because of the material they are printed on or the printer that was used or the software tools employed?  Does one need a credential from some organization to be considered a Fine Art Printer?
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Wayne Fox

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Re: What defines a Fine Art printer?
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2015, 02:10:09 pm »

It's marketing language to distinguish from other types of more commercial printing.  Typically it is intended to convey that the printer (and customers) are interested in quality and uniqueness instead of quantity and price.

...

 Does one need a credential from some organization to be considered a Fine Art Printer?
I would agree it’s mostly a marketing term. Since there are no credentials, certification or licensing required, defining “fine art printer” is subjective and impossible.  To label a person as a fine art printer means in some regard that person possess some specialized skill and knowledge as well as equipment and supplies to produce prints in a particular way that somehow meets the criteria of being fine art quality.  But that level of expertise can be wildly varied.  For example while I consider that I have those skills and can produce a very high quality print that possesses the qualities of a “fine art print”, I have observed and worked with others  who I feel possess skills vastly superior to mine.  A few that come to mind are Jeff Schewe, Dan Steinhardt, Mac Holbert, and Ctein.

Certainly many others have those skills, and many facilities are more than capable of producing multiple levels of quality which include this type of printing.  The fact that I’m also considered by some to be an “expert” at high volume photographic production doesn’t preclude that I also have the knowledge, skills and facility to produce a print that has the qualities of a fine art print.

The question might be to define what is a “fine art print” ... once you define that I would assume a fine art printer is one  capable of producing a print that meets that definition.
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