Welcome to the second official entry in my exploration of fine art printing, paper, and why we're meant for more than cell phone screens. In this entry, we're looking at a paper that absolutely blew my mind from the very first test print I ran.
Cell phones can be a great way to carry a pocket portfolio sample around with you when you're in a pinch, but we put more time and work into our creative process than a whatever-inch-screen will ever be able to convey. You'll find part one of my series here, where I discussed some of the things that I value and look for when presenting my work, including some reasons that I love matte options so much. In this entry, we're looking at the wildly popular Photo Rag 308 paper from the German-based company Hahnemühle. The images I've test printed on this paper are mind blowing folks.
The very first test print put an instant smile on my face, it was absolutely perfect coming off of the printer (which can be found here in case you're curious). The Hahnemühle Photo Rag® 308 is a white cotton fine art paper and you'll find the specifics and available variations here. Being a matte paper the things that you want to look at are the color saturation and the shadows or blacks in your image, this paper keeps both the colors and the shadows true to form, though bear in mind that monitor calibration can sometimes play a drastic role in what you see on screen versus what comes off the printer.
You'll remember from my last entry that I gravitate more strongly towards matte options rather than a glossy option. Photo Rag® 308 is beautifully matte which in my mind helps add a artistic depth and “fine art vibe” to my printed work. I feel like matte options sync up more in line with how I go about my post-processing, which speaks to the larger notion of deciding for yourself how to both view and present your own work. One thing to consider is subject matter; my style of fantasy or fairy tale moods may look great presented a certain way while your work may benefit more from other characteristics. The beauty lies in choice, there isn't a right answer or one size fits all.
Have I mentioned the subtle texture yet? When I say subtle, I mean subtle, folks. While visible upon close inspection, this isn't classified as a textured paper. It offers structure and depth without adding a great deal of its own texture to your work. Again, I personally enjoy a tactile nature to papers ranging from subtle to the more visible and exaggerated. If texture is a concern for you though, you'll find the photo rag to be a safe option as it's quite minimal when compared to a more heavily textured paper.
While this series is an exploration in various paper options, the larger point is that each artist has a plethora of options at their disposal. Take your time, find your medium, and print your work. Whether you're printing for clients, for galleries, or for yourself, you owe it to yourself to see your work on more than a screen. Not every shot is “print worthy” and we all know it, but every once and a while we take a shot that by it's own right deserves to be seen on a larger scale even if only by our own eyes.
Chime in below and leave me a comment about the last thing you printed. Was it for yourself or for someone else?