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Giclee Printing on Epson Stylus Pro 3880

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  • Giclee Printing on Epson Stylus Pro 3880

    I'm looking at buying an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 to create fine art reproductions. These would range from famous art pieces printed from high-res source files to plates scanned directly from antiquarian books. It's important to me that these be of acceptable quality for the consumer market.

    I have a fairly solid grounding on the software side (Photoshop, etc), but I'm not very experienced with digital printing. I expect a learning curve, but what concerns me isn't what I know I don't know, as much as what I don't know that I don't know--so I thought I'd ask. Where are the likely stumbling blocks? If I get the 3880, will I have what I need, or are there other major investments involved in order to do this properly? Can anyone recommend a book that would help me get the best results?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Haystack View Post
    I'm looking at buying an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 to create fine art reproductions. These would range from famous art pieces printed from high-res source files to plates scanned directly from antiquarian books. It's important to me that these be of acceptable quality for the consumer market.

    I have a fairly solid grounding on the software side (Photoshop, etc), but I'm not very experienced with digital printing. I expect a learning curve, but what concerns me isn't what I know I don't know, as much as what I don't know that I don't know--so I thought I'd ask. Where are the likely stumbling blocks? If I get the 3880, will I have what I need, or are there other major investments involved in order to do this properly? Can anyone recommend a book that would help me get the best results?
    You've dealt with the business issues? Copyright, target market, distribution? Etc.
    That helps to determine the technical issues. E.g. If you're the publisher there is potentially a wider tolerance for color accuracy than if you are printing to please a customer. The "consumer" market is a very broad category. Are you thinking Walmart or a gallery row boutique?

    Gordo
    Last edited by gordo; 11-18-2012, 12:18 AM.

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    • #3
      More like eBay. I deal in books/ephemera, and through that have become aware of various illustrators/maps/graphic styles that collectors are always after. It would be a much better return on investment for me if, instead of just reselling that stuff, I were also to digitize it and have reproduction prints permanently in stock thereafter. This would all be public domain; though I am interested in what the process is like for licensing copyrighted material, and whether it would be cost effective for me. So, better than Walmart (I want to say "fine art print," not "poster"), but not necessarily boutique.

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      • #4
        The only issue that comes to mind is that, if you are scanning printed materials you may have to deal with moire introduced by the scanner.

        Best gordo

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        • #5
          Thanks for your help.

          Comment


          • #6
            Not sure if this is going to get you in time but the 3880 is expensive to run. they have fairly small ink tanks. The 4880 Pro Epson uses the same tanks as the 60" printer does. They are much cheaper than buying small tanks for a desktop printer and you get up to 17" wide printing from them. Almost twice the price sounds like a heap of difference but by the time you've used 100 ink tanks from the 3880 and discovered you are still only halfway through full size tanks with a 4880, you'll discover just how cheap the more expensive printer really is.
            Good luck whichever way you go.

            AJ

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Alienjones View Post
              Not sure if this is going to get you in time but the 3880 is expensive to run. they have fairly small ink tanks. The 4880 Pro Epson uses the same tanks as the 60" printer does. They are much cheaper than buying small tanks for a desktop printer and you get up to 17" wide printing from them. Almost twice the price sounds like a heap of difference but by the time you've used 100 ink tanks from the 3880 and discovered you are still only halfway through full size tanks with a 4880, you'll discover just how cheap the more expensive printer really is.
              Good luck whichever way you go.

              AJ
              Thanks. I picked up a 3880 just this week and am pretty happy with it so far, but yeah--my ink levels are down 10% just from charging the printer.

              What is the consensus on refill kits? I've heard stories of people ruining their consumer-grade printers with cheap refill kits, so I'm rather wary.

              Comment


              • #8
                You are looking to do giclee printing with 3rd party cheap inks?! Not even worth considering in my opinion. Stick to the quality - thats what the giclee market wants

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rsands View Post
                  You are looking to do giclee printing with 3rd party cheap inks?! Not even worth considering in my opinion. Stick to the quality - thats what the giclee market wants
                  Are the inks lousy? I'll stick to the Epson then, thanks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One of Australia's most renown fine art printers who has four or five Canon 60" printers and a few Epson's only ever uses non-genuine ink in his Epson printers. It should be notable that he only used Genuine Canon ink as do I, in his iPF printers. I'm not sure if it's kama to mention sources for inks here so I'll refrain but if you look around for the original creator of alternative Epson ink, you'll find what you are looking for.

                    Its true that a lot of Chinese ink supplied as "compatible" inks is pure unadulterated snake oil. Its also true that German ink in after market tanks is every bit as good as the original. So good, I can use the same profiles for both Genuine and German ink and get identical results. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 3M are supposed to be the manufacturers of Epson inks.

                    The instructions I give all my students who use bulk ink tanks is to print a page a day of the color matching picture you can get from the ink supplier. Unless you intend to print 10 or more 8x10 prints a day, you are better off getting refill tanks and refilling them. Epson ink is more expensive than Gold. I agree that some alternatives are rubbish but I know some alternatives are every bit as good as the genuine stuff and 20% of the cost.

                    Any advice you decide to take from what I've said may have been accurate for me but may not work for you. Buyer beware applies to every ink seller who has not been in business for more than 12 years at the same address using the same business name. My reasoning is if they last that long, they at least have stood the test of time.

                    AJ

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Describing Giclée Prints

                      Giclée is french for "squirt" or "Spray". Some say in the 16th century it was used to describe female urination. The original use of the word for printing was when the first printer that used tanks rotating around a drum with rag stretched over it actually produced 'prints' of a size no other method at that time could produce. It literally sprayed ink onto the surface. Accuracy of placement was not a feature of those early printers.

                      Today when used in describing inkjet prints the word Giclée is mostly cosmetic, used by the same sort of people who drink Pina Colada on the beaches of fashionable locations to impress people into believing an inkjet print is somehow of higher quality or will last longer, maybe worth more if it is called a Giclée print.

                      Its not unlike how use of the word 'font' to describe a typeface has been bastardized. You can thank Bill Gates for the present use of the word. A typeface describes the design of lettering. Bold, Italic and other derivatives are fonts of the typeface. Just as the typesetting craft has been butchered by computers and those seeking to alter correct words of description, so too has art reproduction been butchered by people trying to use fancy sounding French words to describe a plain old inkjet print.

                      If anyone were to try and pass off one of my limited edition prints as a Giclée print, I'd withdraw it from the auction. They are pigment ink prints. Guaranteed to last a lifetime as in the lifetime of the media they are printed on. Typically 20 years for canvas, 90 years for archival matte, Rag paper, up to 120 years for silver photographic prints (highly dependent of chemicals used) or 200 years as a digital image recorded on a Kodak Gold CD or DVD provided they are stored according to instruction on the certificate of Authenticity supplied with each print. You can buy micro dots and Authenticity certificates from any Authorized Hahnemühle distributor if you print limited edition archival prints on their papers or canvas.

                      You can find further, accurate information from "The fine Art Trade Guild" in London UK. I remember a group of inkjet printers setting up a Giclée Guild in the USA a few years ago but I can't find them now. They even listed brands of printers that could be described as Giclée printers. Even they forgot to mention the trademark of Giclée, a brand of inkjet printers, no longer exists.

                      I'd suggest if you want to gain any standing in the reproduction industry, you refrain from trying to claim your Epson inkjet printer is a true "Glicée printer.
                      Last edited by Alienjones; 12-02-2012, 10:18 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Alienjones View Post
                        One of Australia's most renown fine art printers who has four or five Canon 60" printers and a few Epson's only ever uses non-genuine ink in his Epson printers. It should be notable that he only used Genuine Canon ink as do I, in his iPF printers. I'm not sure if it's kama to mention sources for inks here so I'll refrain but if you look around for the original creator of alternative Epson ink, you'll find what you are looking for.

                        Its true that a lot of Chinese ink supplied as "compatible" inks is pure unadulterated snake oil. Its also true that German ink in after market tanks is every bit as good as the original. So good, I can use the same profiles for both Genuine and German ink and get identical results. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 3M are supposed to be the manufacturers of Epson inks.

                        The instructions I give all my students who use bulk ink tanks is to print a page a day of the color matching picture you can get from the ink supplier. Unless you intend to print 10 or more 8x10 prints a day, you are better off getting refill tanks and refilling them. Epson ink is more expensive than Gold. I agree that some alternatives are rubbish but I know some alternatives are every bit as good as the genuine stuff and 20% of the cost.

                        Any advice you decide to take from what I've said may have been accurate for me but may not work for you. Buyer beware applies to every ink seller who has not been in business for more than 12 years at the same address using the same business name. My reasoning is if they last that long, they at least have stood the test of time.

                        AJ
                        That's good to know. Maybe I'll look into it down the road, when I have a better handle on what I'm doing.

                        Somewhere I read a rule of thumb that 1ml prints about 1 sq ft. Based on that estimate, the ink cost for an 11 x 17 print would average out to about $1.20. If the ink consumption on my 3880 turns out to be something on that order, then I don't mind playing it safe.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Alienjones View Post
                          Describing Giclée Prints

                          Giclée is french for "squirt" or "Spray". Some say in the 16th century it was used to describe female urination. The original use of the word for printing was when the first printer that used tanks rotating around a drum with rag stretched over it actually produced 'prints' of a size no other method at that time could produce. It literally sprayed ink onto the surface. Accuracy of placement was not a feature of those early printers.

                          Today when used in describing inkjet prints the word Giclée is mostly cosmetic, used by the same sort of people who drink Pina Colada on the beaches of fashionable locations to impress people into believing an inkjet print is somehow of higher quality or will last longer, maybe worth more if it is called a Giclée print.

                          Its not unlike how use of the word 'font' to describe a typeface has been bastardized. You can thank Bill Gates for the present use of the word. A typeface describes the design of lettering. Bold, Italic and other derivatives are fonts of the typeface. Just as the typesetting craft has been butchered by computers and those seeking to alter correct words of description, so too has art reproduction been butchered by people trying to use fancy sounding French words to describe a plain old inkjet print.

                          If anyone were to try and pass off one of my limited edition prints as a Giclée print, I'd withdraw it from the auction. They are pigment ink prints. Guaranteed to last a lifetime as in the lifetime of the media they are printed on. Typically 20 years for canvas, 90 years for archival matte, Rag paper, up to 120 years for silver photographic prints (highly dependent of chemicals used) or 200 years as a digital image recorded on a Kodak Gold CD or DVD provided they are stored according to instruction on the certificate of Authenticity supplied with each print. You can buy micro dots and Authenticity certificates from any Authorized Hahnemühle distributor if you print limited edition archival prints on their papers or canvas.

                          You can find further, accurate information from "The fine Art Trade Guild" in London UK. I remember a group of inkjet printers setting up a Giclée Guild in the USA a few years ago but I can't find them now. They even listed brands of printers that could be described as Giclée printers. Even they forgot to mention the trademark of Giclée, a brand of inkjet printers, no longer exists.

                          I'd suggest if you want to gain any standing in the reproduction industry, you refrain from trying to claim your Epson inkjet printer is a true "Glicée printer.
                          Thanks for the information. I'll check out the trade guild for more.

                          I'm aware that "Giclée" has degraded into a rather fuzzy marketing term, and see your point about using it imprecisely in professional circles. There seems to be a need for an effective term to communicate that an art print adheres to a certain, recognized quality standard. If "Giclée" is overblown for an Epson print, then "inkjet" may be underselling; you want people to understand that the art print they're going to receive is not going to look like what happened last time they printed a picture off a website.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Haystack View Post
                            That's good to know. Maybe I'll look into it down the road, when I have a better handle on what I'm doing.

                            Somewhere I read a rule of thumb that 1ml prints about 1 sq ft. Based on that estimate, the ink cost for an 11 x 17 print would average out to about $1.20. If the ink consumption on my 3880 turns out to be something on that order, then I don't mind playing it safe.
                            Be wary of costing your prints like this. The density of ink multiplied by how many colors you are using cannot easily be quantified. I allow a little less than a buck a square foot for archival prints on rag paper. That's for a iPF 8100 Canon 12 color, 44" printer. Maybe multiply that by 3 or 4 for your printer and it would be close. As for the amount of ink consumed? No... Too much trouble to calculate. Every time you switch on your printer an amount of ink is consumed in being sure the nozzles are working.

                            AJ

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Haystack,

                              Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about the whole giclée vs. inkjet business. I've been at this a long time, and as far as I'm concerned, any inkjet print is a giclée print, by definition; and that could be a fine-art print, or it could be a billboard. True, giclée is hype, but it's hype on the same order as "lithograph."

                              It sounds all toney to say you have a limited-run of quality lithographs for sale, rather than just posters printed on an offset press...but they're the same thing.

                              Same thing with giclée. A giclée is just an inkjet print. Myself, I've kind of come to disfavor the term more because it does the process something of a disservice to use it. Back when it came into vogue, it mainly did because no one thought of inkjet as a serious printing process.

                              Nowadays, I don't know of anyone who doesn't. The term inkjet now is perfectly capable of standing on its own.

                              As far as what you need to learn: There's one key secret to making money in any venue of large-format printing, and that's to print each image you print as well as it can possibly be printed... on the first print.

                              That means setting up a color workflow that doesn't lose any device capability or image information in each transfer, and having each device in your workflow characterized so that you know that you're getting every bit of its capability on every media, and that you know exactly how it's going to print every print you send before you send it.

                              Follow those rules, and you'll find material costs are such a minimal part of your overall cost structure that you won't need to worry about using third-party inks and the like.


                              Mike Adams

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