Thinking About Fine Art Printing? Lindsay Adler Shares Her Process

As photographers, many of us are guilty of capturing images but rarely taking the time to create prints. For those of you who do print your images, you know what everyone else is missing. Recently, NYC-based fashion photographer Lindsay Adler decided to create her first fine art print collection

One of the things I've come to realize is that there is nothing better than seeing your images in print.

In order to ensure that Adler's collection was printed at the level that her clients expect, she spent a significant amount of time researching fine art printing. Adler's new video is a great summary of many of the principles behind fine art printing and the lessons she learned while putting together her first print collection.

Lindsay Adler's splash page for fine-art prints.

Get Help

As a printing neophyte, Adler sought out help from colleagues with extensive experience in fine art printing: Brooke Shaden and Claire Rosen. As a lawyer, I was constantly told not to reinvent the wheel. Given the amount of information available online, this lesson is a valuable one. Use your network and research skills to avoid many of the problems that have already been solved.

Limited Editions

It's a well-known macroeconomic theory that scarcity breeds value. Adler explains that this rule also holds true to the practice of print sales. If your goal is to sell fine art prints, keep the print runs limited.

Lindsay Adler's fine-art colour series - Magma

Certificate of Authenticity

As Adler points out, a certificate of authenticity is critical to ensure that the scarcity of supply that you create by limiting the edition is verifiable. Adler used Hahnemühle's system of certificates.

Paper

If your goal is to sell high-priced prints or to end up in high-end galleries or museums, you will need to use high-quality archival paper. Adler explains that the type of paper you use ultimately depends on what your work looks like. There are a few rules related to what kind of papers to use for high-contrast, heavily saturated, or dark images. Adler's suggestion that you try a few sample packs to see what looks best on a small scale before committing to thousands of dollars of paper is a great one. 

Equipment: Printer and Ink

Adler uses a Canon Pro-4000 printer. To get the right variety of color tones and blacks, it is always a good idea to use a printer that blends as many different pigments of ink as possible. The Canon Pro-4000 uses 12 different cartridges, including Canon's non-color Chroma Optimizer, designed to reduce bronzing and even out ink depth and color tone.

Lindsay Adler's fine-art Black and White series - Goddess Circle

Handling

Because her video is about the ins and outs of actually printing, Adler doesn't mention handling prints. I would point out, though, that every time you see her near a print, she is wearing gloves to protect the paper and ink. Don't forget to copy this habit.

Your Tips

Do you have any tips about creating fine art prints that you'd like to share with the readers?

Images provide by Lindsay Adler.

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11 Comments

Mary Bel's picture

Its important to allow your paper to breathe before framing or packing it for shipping. This allows the inks to settle and the paper to cool down. Also, proof your prints (in a smaller scale) before proceedings with printing costly full sized prints. This way you can make any necessary tweaks on your computer. Printing really brings out details that can be overlooked on screen.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Good suggestions! Do you happen to have any links talking about letting paper cool down and ink settle? I’m intrigued.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I leave it a minimum of 4 days before framing due to the "gassing" process as prints dry out. Otherwise there is a risk of getting misty glass on the underside if the framing process makes for a very sealed product.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Thanks for sharing. What a great community!
Do you hang them or leave them flat? Dust? Or, in my house kitten hair?
Do you know if different inks on different media from different printers have different rates? Any reference materials you could direct me to?

Joe Petolino's picture

I agree with Lee. It's about letting the ink solvents evaporate. I've had mist on the inside glass surface of inkjet prints that I framed too soon.

" ...every time you see her near a print, she is wearing gloves ..."

In the video she is bare handed and actually touches a print with her finger at about 3:53.

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

Good eye. I’m wondering if those are test prints as they certainly aren’t the larger prints she has gloves on for.

michaeljinphoto's picture

Though I shouldn't have to point this out, please make sure that your gloves are actually clean if you are planning to use them. I know at least two people who used the same pair of white cotton gloves for handling negatives and prints for YEARS without ever cleaning them. Sort of defeats the purpose at a certain point... :/

barry cash's picture

sorry Lindsay but you lost me at time stamp 2:14 whew!

Maybe I missed something but I don't see Lindsay sharing her process of fine art printing...