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Tuesday, 20 May 2014


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Canson Baryta Photographique 310gsm is my favourite printing paper, period. Yet having said that, I'm just about to embark on wet printing again for the first time in decades. I think the temptation is to see if I can come up with results that compare favourably. And I have fond memories of the process.

I think the clue is in the name: 'inkjet'.

It doesn't sound very high quality.

Ink? As in that watery stuff in pens?

Jet? As in 'squirt'?

A new name is needed. Archival pigment prints is nice, but inherent in the word 'archival' is the notion of non-archival, which is enough to provoke anxiety in anyone paying money for a print they hope to keep for years.

And the phrase is a bit arcane. You have to know what distinguishes pigment from water-soluble materials.

And pigments don't seem to have anything to do with photographs, do they?

I think a word that responds to the imagination rather than the intellect would help.

Chromaprint - I'm sure it is being used by someone - but that kind of idea.

I appreciate that even with TOP's readership it is not feasible to introduce a new word that paper and ink (ouch, I meant superior-printing-material) manufacturers will take up. But I think that is the essence of the problem.

Just like taking a photograph, where everyone thinks that they can take a perfectly good photo, everyone thinks that they can make a perfectly good print. They are wrong, but this means that there is no mystery about the process of making a print.

When all prints were made in the dark with strange chemicals requiring skills that had to be hard learnt, rather than just remembering which computer keys to press, there was a mystery.

"...is by a comfortable margin the best color printing method in the history of photography,..."

How sad does my dye transfer from Ctein feel now? Very.

To be honest (not belonging to the circle of photographers selling prints for high prices), I don't really pay much attention to which process is more prestigious. I just print on a Epson 3800 and enjoy the results.

But my suspicion as to why inkjet prints have not yet achieved the status of silver & Co. have is the tiny word "expectancy" in the middle of your post.

Not an issue for people producing or enjoying art, but a big deal to those investing in photographic "artefacts". They are driving the prices and I guess they are not convinced by the word "expectancy."

Art dealers in The Netherlands often advertise inktjet prints as 'glicee' to make them look a little more upmarket...

Maybe we should have continued to call inkjet prints Giclee.

I think it is because for many of us who grew up with B&W photographic materials, current printing's very flexibility (and the "youth" of the technology) presents so many variables, and so little understanding of how those variables mesh together, that you really get something like "decisional paralysis" even attempting to master the craft. Honestly, my hazy memory can conjure only about four variables in the B&W darkroom. Paper selection, developer selection, time and temperature. You could throw in Selenium or Brown Toner as another variable, if you were feeling fancy. I typically only stocked about three or four different papers and by the end had settled on two paper developers -- a "hard" and a "soft" which I used in two baths to get both the blacks and the mid-tones I wanted.

Inkjet printing implicates monitor calibration, printer calibration, OEM inks, aftermarket inks, dozens of papers I would never have time to test, patently laughable (read: false) "archival standards", clogged heads, non-user serviceable, non-modular printers, a rapid rate of technological change _in all of the above__. [/Inner Curmudgeon Off]

Heck, I don't understand even one of the variables above, let alone how they interact. (Can I use non-OEM inks with Uber-Paper semi-hemi-demi-gloss if I am displaying a print in a mixed-light source gallery where a primary goal is a color gamut that matches my monitor and a secondary goal is producing a product that will fade less than 10% over the next 20 years? How about if I have been on vacation and haven't printed in three weeks?). "Who knows?" is the polite version of the answer.

Couple the above with the fact that 95% of my work is seen on computer monitors and never printed (I just re-read this sentence and have to be honest -- it is more like 99.995%), and you have a technological red-headed stepchild in the making (if I may mix, mangle and mash my metaphors).
I have considered not replacing my printer when it dies, but instead finding a service to do my printing and letting the experts figure it out.


I think the problem relates to an aroma of "cheap" surrounding the name which occurred with the introduction of the very first ordinary inkjet printers. Public perception is a difficult thing to turn around.

Could it be that there's just not enough mystery to the inkjet printing process? I would imagine that a far higher percentage of today's population has experienced making their own inkjet prints (and not been impressed), than the small percentage of the population that made prints under an enlarger.

The other problem is colour itself, after all how can a colour print be considered art - "it's just a photo, isn't it".
Maybe, just maybe, a "monochrome giclée print" might be regarded as art by the general public.

Because until today, I've never seen anyone say in print that, "'Archival Pigment Prints' (read, inkjet done right) is by a comfortable margin the best color printing method in the history of photography ... "

Instead, print sellers apologetically use terms like Giclée.

[Jack Duganne] wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the IRIS printer, a large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they had adapted for fine-art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of "inkjet" or "computer generated".

Sounds like a reasonable assessment ... printmaking was more of a craft in the past. I suspect this is the reason behind the use of the word "giclee" to describe ink-jet prints. Maybe if there were some kind of training that could make you a certified master ink jet printer, your prints would be more respected ? Not everyone made darkroom prints, but lots of people print with an ink jet printer. (Just like not many people paint, but everyone takes pictures).

Your post recalls that part of me I've subdued that wants to learn to print well. It seems intimidating; time-consuming ... something I'll save for retirement. (I know a bit about color management, but between Windows and Lightroom and the printer, it seems there are still too many ways to control color and if there are 200+ page books on the subject, it can't be that simple !)

Probably amongst your ten:

1. To many, inkjet connotes a mechanical/electronic process that is easily repeatable. IE, not craft, not by hand etc.
2. "If I have an inkjet at home that I use to print emails and web sites, it can't be that good."
3. Photographers may be partially to blame. Even now it seems galleries and photographers are almost afraid to call it an inkjet. You almost never see that. We had Giclees (so silly), archival pigment prints and many more I can't think of at the moment. Call it whatever you like but don't call it an inkjet.

My guess is that it isn't just one thing but a number for any given person.

I'm sure the money has something to do with it but I suspect accessibility plays a role too. The associated technology is much easier to learn than a lot of printing techniques of the past. It's also more forgiving in some ways, i.e. you don't have to maintain temperature within plus or minus a half degree. The less difficult and arcane it is, the less impressive it is.

Giclée: A term used to describe an art reproduction printed with an inkjet printer. Pretentious? You bet.

Is it as simple as the traditional (but not the TOP) art market depends on snobbery, arbitrary judgment and politics?

Wasn't the term "giclée" invented for this reason?

Yes, it's about status and availability, you are absolutely correct.
Real artists (at least some of them) in every age adopt the new.
The Art establishment in every age resists the new. They look down their very long noses at new stuff.
Things are not good or bad because they are new or old.
Also, just because a new technology comes along that offers technical superiority, it does not follow that work done with that technology is "better" or even good. Nor should it re-value (up or down) previous technology.
Sometimes artists choose processes that 'fit' their work, other times they seek out the process with the most rendering ability.

I do believe that the ubiquity of high quality pigment based inkjet printing works against it with those who make their living in the 'secondary market' of Art. Good Art is rare, good craft is a little less rare, but still uncommon.
Really good inkjet printing requires skill, but Compared to any other process of getting your work on paper or canvass it is ridiculously easy and accessible --- so "How can it be Art" seems to be an underlying prejudice.
It has no 'history' compared to other processes. You can crank them out by the hundreds while you sit by the pool.
It also lacks the romance and nostalgia for processes themselves. Every photographer I know speaks of the magic of going into a dark room and seeing a picture emerge from nothing. You can't get that from standing in front of a 3880 no matter how good it is.
These are all things that seem counterintuitive to our accepted notions of how Art comes to be.
There's not enough 'suffering' ; -)

Digital photography in general has resulted in an explosion in the volume of new work, which is good, but it has also made exceptional work harder to find. So it becomes easier to equate the ubiquity of 'digital' and 'inkjet' with being less valuable.
Some understood this from the beginning and tried fancy names like Giclee' .
Each year I attend PhotoPlus in NY. The best part for me is always the Epson Gallery. When you see really great work by great photographers you know it, --it is still far above what most of us can do with the same equipment.
It makes you realize anew that technology can make things possible but in the end only the picture matters. Process is irrelevant.
Curating and selling Art is about exclusion. Separating the truly exceptional from the merely good and 'making a case for it.
Ubiquity is the opposite of rarity.
There's the rub.

Actually if you factor in ink, paper from test rejects and out of warranty repairs, they do cost $100,000 !

The quality of ink jet printing was the point of Ctein doing that low-priced printing run a year or so back, right?

I'll admit to biting on that deal, as well as his "closeout" of his dye transfers. The quality of modern printing really didn't hit me until I put the two side-by-side.

Maybe it will take a similar approach to drill in the concept.

A lot of people I know claim that they prefer images "in" the paper, though (that is, a gelatin print).

You're right that inkjet printing sets the standard of quality for photo printing, and yet the public doesn't seem to recognize this fact. Some guesses why:

Early inkjet prints were reminiscent of the old dot-matrix process.

Early inkjet prints faded in front of your eyes.

Early inkjet prints usually looked bad because the photographer didn't know anything about printing and always overdid contrast and saturation.

Anything digital is perceived as worse in artistic quality than anything analog.

We already have a faux-expensive name for inkjet printing: Giclee. Oh please. That set the acceptance back at least a decade.

There is a painter in my town who sells "giclée" prints of his paintings by the truckload. (Literally -- he has an oversize pickup and walk-in trailer with a driver who travels the Southwest for art fairs and to restock galleries that carry his work.)

Photographers seem to have abandoned the word, though I heard it quite a bit at one time. Sounds pretentious to me, but might be better than inkjet.

I just call mine "pigment prints."

what's the big mystery? a machine squirting out your art endeavours onto a piece of paper? where's the human touch?

As long as top quality prints took real time and effort by a master printer, there was an inherent limit in how many copies of a photograph there were likely to be. Now that you can get an unlimited number just by pushing a button, there's no real limit on how many copies of a given photograph a photographer can print. That eliminates the scarcity that tends to drive up prices on so much art.

My guess is that inkjet printing is something that everybody has experience with: a $50 crappy printer that has been torturing the household with its quirks and stubbornness (exemplified perfectly here http://d2tq98mqfjyz2l.cloudfront.net/image_cache/1374708533571010_tall.jpg ). In the mind of the "regular" user inkjet printing is definitely not conductive to quality.

We have gotten to the point where viewing billions of pictures is free, inkjet printing is seen as an extension of that. Photoshop is no longer seen as voodoo. In short, the perception is that inkjet prints are something any competent 13 year old can do. In a world where prints are afterthoughts, inkjet prints remind people of something that comes off of a printing press. In other words, any sort of mechanically produced print is immediately seen as a commodity, a poster. There isn't any skill involved in the actual printing anymore. Yes, there is still a lot of skill needed to get the print ready to print, but the process of printing is mechanical. I'll admit to having this bias as well. My upper limit of what I'll spend on an inkjet print is considerably lower than say, a platinum print or dye matrix.

I really do think that people have internalized the digital revolution. The marginal cost of supplying another image on a screen is zero. The marginal cost of making another inkjet print isn't zero but it is pretty low. This is the same dilemma that software makers and digital media face.

The perceived value of pictures in general and prints in particular have changed as well. There was a time that the images that we see on our flat screen monitors would have been worth a fortune. Can you imagine a good 27" monitor hung in a wall in a gallery in 1974? Heck, even 1984? A single image on a screen would would have been a sensation back then. Now, they are worthless.

The same thinking goes with inkjet prints I think. Offer what you can do and get with inkjet printing now in 1984 and you would have been a very successful printer and the prints would have been demanded all over the world. Now it is seen as commonplace, or maybe even worse, irrelevant.

I thought Dye prints were meant to be better, or at least have a better gamut? Whatever one of those is?

It's a shame that inkjet prints aren't given their due. The tide will turn in time as fewer artists work with rival methods.

As for Canson, they've become my "go-to" paper maker. Wonderful surfaces and textures. Their ICC profiles are as good as any I've seen, too.

Hmmm ... maybe not just availability, but repeatability ? Maybe art collectors love knowing that it's difficult to make exact copies of prints and that it's time consuming ? It seems a lot more reasonable to limit a print to 'n' copies when each one of them is made by hand, but kind of silly to limit a print when all you have to do to make more is bump up the counter in the dialog ;)

And just one more comment ... many years ago ... 15 maybe ? ... I attended a camera club meeting (my one & only) because Joseph Meehan was the guest speaker (he's a local) and he said, way back then, that while digital capture hadn't caught up to film, digital output was already superior.

Geez , if we really need yet another name for trransfering colored stuff to flat stuff, how about

"Pigment Deposition Print"

According to Google this is the first use of this phrase to describe a type of photographic print, so send any phrase coining karma derived to me I guess.

Oh, and "Archival bla bla print" triggers the same response as "Honest" in the name of a used car dealership or loan company.

I've seen some fabulous pigmented inkjet prints, truly as good as any black & white or color print, at least any I would be happy with, BUT, I wouldn't want to make them! I can set up a wet darkroom tomorrow and find a great paper to make archival black & white prints on, bit the stuff you have to go through to make a repeatably good print from an inkjet is beyond my ability to mess with computers that much! I remember Ctein going through it, and no thanks! If fact, I would rather make a small, conventional black & white wet print for a inkjet rpinter to follow when making my big print, then make the inkjet myself...

To me, this article by Seth Godin explains why: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/05/small-differences-looming-large.html

"The fur coat non-inkjet print is not warmer may not be better than the down jacket inkjet print, it's merely harder to acquire make."

The artist's chosen printing materials and processes have never been dictated by the art buying community to any seriously limiting extent. Attempts to do so usually reflect certain anxieties/rivalries among various art dealers and galleries as new artists and new media appear on the horizon. The concerns eventually give way to a broader acceptance and appreciation of the work. I believe this transition is already happening now with inkjet prints, just as it did with traditional chromogenic color prints over time despite their rather fragile nature in terms of "archival" properties.

Given how few people actually make prints of any kind in the digital age, now is a great time to be printing one's own work.

Based on the comments I've read thus far, about the widespread perception of the relative ease of inkjet printing as opposed to a wet process, I guess this might be the exception to Ctein's maxim: "Nobody cares how hard you work".

The debate over whether the ease or the difficulty of the chosen medium has any relationship to the value of the photograph as artifact is an exercise that only serves to diminish the true value of the photograph as image and idea. Only a minute fraction of the great photographs will ever be viewed and treasured as prints on paper—they'll be seen in books and on computer screens, and their greatness will continue to move and inspire their viewers.

"People look at darkrooms full of chemicals and enlargers and it's an alien thing"

Actually, that's a photographer's natural habitat. :-p

Seriously, I regard inkjet printing as an alien world that would take significant effort to achieve competency, not to mention mastery. That is because I've simply never approached that craft.

So I regard mastery of inkjet/pigment printing with awe and high regard. Because as a chemical printer I know just how hard it is to translate an original negative or slide into its own perfect physical expression.

It's the same as the logic which drives professional wedding and event photographers crazy. Uncle Joe shows up with his Nikcanon with a big zoom and inserts himself into the process and everyone assumes that his work will rival that of the professional's. My daughter was married last year in New Zealand; she chose the photographer, they did an absolutely fantastic job, way better than I could have, even if I had been willing. Since everyone now has a digital camera and an inkjet printer, people assume it will all be the same. The president of my local photo group (not a "club") recently wrote of the "romance" of traditional film. I did film for over 40 years; it was slow, inconsistent, technically difficult. He argued that now everyone's work looks the same because it's all done in Lightroom-Photoshop and printed on an Epson. I argued that for many people film was the same too; everyone used Tmax, or Tri-X, processed in D-76 or Xtol, and printed on Ilford or Seagull. It was all the mistakes that were so easy to make that made film "distinctive." Just because the last part of making an inkjet is easy, pressing the button, does not make all that went up to that point trivial.

Why not adopt a new marketing name for the high quality inkjet printing? Leave the lesser quality inkjet prints under that name. For the art field a new moniker is needed. Make it appeal to the gilded buyers with a name that says CLASS with bells and whistles. How about "Rare Earths Process", "Jeweled Pigment Process", "Investment Portfolio Print". Anyone else have ideas?

Probably because "Archival Pigment Print" isn't nearly as pretent... I mean sexy as "giclee".

And I mean sexy quite literally way, given the French origin of the word.

There are still plenty of art galleries that don't accept anything digital (from camera or printer) and I know a few photo artists who still refuse to consider it.

The establishment is built on arcana. Its high priests wallow in their mastery of mysteries and hardly want to admit that they are at a total loss and really need to be retrained. From scratch.

When the "young upstarts" who leaned Photoshop and mastered digital printing finally move into positions within the same establishment, preferences will shift.

Give it a generation.

""Some people still feel manual stick cars are better than automatic."

Like the entire world, apart from N America, for example.


I've a friend who prints his art for a living. He uses ink on cotton rag based paper. People buy his work without any qualms about the medium...(and he signs his work on the front).

The only real difference between his reproduction method and mine is that his original is an etched sheet of metal rather than a digital file.

I suspect that it has less to do with the inkjet printer so much as the digital camera and computer that the photographer used to create the file. Are there digital fine art painters out there who command as much money as the best traditional painters?

The difference between an inkjet print and a darkroom print is that making a great inkjet print depends on having the knowledge whereas to make a great darkroom print you must have the skill. I can tell you exactly how to make a wooden chest of drawers with beautiful exposed dovetail joints but to actually make it, well, I just don't have the level of skill required for a great result. For me, that is the significant difference between an inkjet print and a darkroom print.

I think it's the "I could do that" syndrome, which affects all sorts of art forms when new: abstract painting in acrylic paints, for example. Not many people learned to print in a darkroom - even fewer in colour - and only artists mastered the skill. But anyone with a computer thinks that it's easy to print - plug in printer, and click on print.

Traditional prints have more depth, period. A lot more depth.

Dear Mike,

Well, I think the hoity-toity name experiment was tried with "Giclee" and it was pretty much a fail. But that aside, ...

I've got pretty good controlled experiment in this. Among the Jim Marshall prints I own half are digital prints, half are dye transfers. Most of the inquiries I've received and ALL of the sales have been of the dye transfer prints.

By every ordinary metric of print marketability, even in the rarities market, that shouldn't be the case. The digital prints are several-fold less expensive and larger. They are artistically and aesthetically better and more true to Jim's original slides to a degree that's pretty obvious to even a casual observer. Finally, they are considerably RARER––in most cases exactly 2 signed digital prints exist in the entire world, with the estate owning one and me owning the other.

But ... they don't move. It's gotta be the inkjet thing.

I've been wondering if Mike's notions about the Veblen economics might apply. Maybe these things are priced way too cheap. Maybe they shouldn't be severalfold less expensive than the dye transfer prints; if I really think they're better prints, maybe they should be priced MORE.

I'll probably try doing that. It's not like I could get any fewer sales of these than I have.

It'll be interesting to see if it makes them more interesting to collectors.

pax / Ctein

""Some people still feel manual stick cars are better than automatic."

Like the entire world, apart from N America, for example.


Is Japan in the world apart from N. American, I wonder?

Maybe it's not the inkjet pigment process, but the possibility that the process is employed to produce prints of modern digitally-captured images that lack depth and character. Maybe the bias I have for imperfect color and unique tonal character and grain characteristics of certain film stocks is something that is shared by those who pooh-pooh inkjet images of ever mo' perfect images -- images that are perfectly sharp with perfectly rendered color. Perfection is often alienating and boring. In striving to achieve an objective scientifically-measurable standard of quality, is there any room left for individual vision and personality? I prefer digital C-prints of scanned film images (I love a hybrid workflow) but with the front and back ends analog for its imperfection and nuance and character and the middle part for digital to do what digital does best.

Inkjet like all printing techniques is based on the skill level of the printer one you scratch the surface... there is not substitute for a great profile and understanding papers from uncoated to coated and how different coating and different base materials increase or decrease quality. The photo industry is very much to blame for the perception of inkjet as inferior as their marketing as easy and everyone can do it for the last decade was bound to have negative effects after sometime. I did/ do lots of testing for Canson as well as Hahnemuhle and other companies they both make great products but the only thing that will change perception at this point is the passage of time.... and good thing is that modern inkjet prints will survive that passage of time with flying colors.

A lot of valid points in the comments but I think Suprada gets closest. Scarcity=exclusivity=value. Inkjet indicates that it might be too easily re-produced and therefore the value is diluted by the possibility of too many prints. They're too easily acquired/made and consequently plebeian and of less value by perception if not reality.

For me, it's a couple things (from the viewpoint of a professional[ish] photographer who sends stuff to labs for printing):

First, to me, an inkjet printer is something that you got "free" with a computer 10 years ago, that had questionable speed and quality and cost more to fill with ink than they would have cost new at retail.

Secondly, I can't tell you if I've ever seen a good inkjet print. Not because they don't exist, but because if I have seen one, they were not labeled as such. I don't go to galleries, I'm not a collector, I will casually browse photography in certain retail settings, but I don't always know how the prints were produced.

A large inkjet seems like such a large luxury good to me these days, I doubt I'll ever own one. I don't print much, so I don't know that I'd use up inks before they'd have to be replaced. Then I read Ctein's adventures in color profiling and think, "Yeah, I'll just send my photos to Mpix/Adoramapix/etc. instead." So my unfamiliarity will continue to grow, sadly.

Hi, interesting read, but i wouldn´t have been thinking, that inkjet printing is not accepted.
I sell prints occasionally to companies for their rooms etc., but when i do, i am happy to offer a product, that is stable for a very long time (3880+canson). For collectors, may it be private or public, it is a different story and important for them, that they can be sure, that the printer/artist used materials in a certain combination, which is the machine, the inkset, the paper, the paper path, the software, the profile and a rip maybe. From my readings at the printing forum over at LuLa, if it is about the longlivety it seems aardenburg imaging does even a more specific testing than wilhelm research institute, regarding the factors i mentioned before. I am not a hardcore teccie, but just like to know, what works and what not.

In 2011 i saw a work of Adam Bartos-Yardsale. When i looked at the prints, i could indentify them as being inkjets immediately, simply because of the paper surface. I talked with the gallery owner and he confirmed: Shot with film, printed with inkjet on a matte white paper and put in a darkish brown frame. Excellent! The prints had the size of something like 12x18 in. with a white border and were sold for +/- 2000 €, if i remember correct. And they were limited to something like ten pieces per print.

For my personal work, longelivety is a strong argument, but not the first one, simmply because doing a reprint is so easy and my work is not limited. For example a customer is not following my recommendations for framing and uses the wrong materials and the colors are changing for whatever reason, he will get another one and he does not have to pay the full price, if he is sending back the damaged print. The only reason for me going back to the darkroom would be photograms, for the rest no thank you. Two or three times a year i develop batches of color negative film, because i love pinholing so much, but this i am doing in my kitchen. Yummy.......

Mathew Hargreaves wrote:
> Why not adopt a new marketing name for the high quality inkjet printing?
> Leave the lesser quality inkjet prints under that name. For the art field
> a new moniker is needed.


I should also point out that one of the previous attempts (Giclée) at conveying a “high-class” image was actually a bit awkward and silly-sounding, when one takes into account the term’s semantics in the original French — e.g. giclée of what ? of semen ? as in bukkake ?

Something technically correct (and therefore defensible) and bland (and therefore without any undesirable connotations) like IHD process might thus be preferable.

IHD, as in:

Microscopically (at the dot level) and macroscopically (at the picture level), the inks are indeed deposited sequentially and incrementally by the print head(s).

Just like halftones, inkjet printing is, at a fundamental level, a discrete, non-continuous, dot-based printing system.


One could also, if necessary, distinguish between “Organic IHD process” (dye-based inks) and “Inorganic IHD process” (pigment-based inks).

The mystery to me is why any collector would pay a sum in excess of £1,000 (never mind £500,000) for a chemical colour print. It's insane. Ugly, plastic, shiny or mechanically-textured surfaces, fatally impermanent... Some "investment".


Inkjet prints are fragile.

doesn't matter if it will last 200 years if I can't hold it in my hand or touch the surface.

I am not happy to give a client an inkjet print unless it's framed behind glass.

'darkroom prints' are tough, you know this. How many of us had loose prints stuck in boxes or portfolio cases for years and never worried that they would be destroyed. Try that with some inkjet prints, especially ones printed on a fine art matt paper and see how long they look good for.

I wish it wasn't so but they're just fragile.

There have been inkjet prints described as "archival", "designed to last a hundred years" etc. etc for a decade or more. They lied. That is why the whole medium is not trusted now. The manufacturers and printers (as in, persons doing the printing) have been found unreliable by millions with a faded colourprint done on their cheapo machines with cheapo materials. It will take a long time to earn trust, however unfair that may be.

Inkjet printing is a technical printing process - just like four-colour lith etc. When set-up, it is repeatable ad-infinitum. There is some (perhaps considerable) skill in making the perfect file, but after that it is just turning out posters.

Ansel Adams used a music analogy in his famous quotation on the identity of a print:"The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways." I believe that the analogy can be extended.

An inkjet print is like the music you hear from a record. The record itself can incorporate high level skills in its recording, mixing, and manufacture but few would pay serious money to hear that record played and replayed.

A print hand-made from light-sensitive materials is like the music you hear at a live performance. This sound is made anew everytime from scratch. And depending on the renown of the performer that can command a very high ticket price indeed.

Where do dye inkjets come into this? Are they better than perfect or are the archival properties of pigment inkjets driving this whole premise? Only a few years ago saw an exhibition of B&W prints by HP, and they were simply bad- and they were trying to sell me their printers. It was an art exhibition in Brighton UK.

I think Maris hit the nail on the head. Every analogue print is unique. I recently had the chance to view an Ansel Adams exhibit at the Getty Museum. There were two prints of Moonrise Hernandez. One was printed close to the time the original image was made and the other shortly before his death. The contrast between them was striking and clearly demonstrated a different "performance".

The work, and it is not insignificant work, on a digital print is all done on the front end. But a collector knows that the exact image can be reproduced with relative ease, which diminishes the market value of the print. One way to deal with this issue might be for the artist to print a limited run and destroy the edited, but not the raw, file.

Mike, didn't you get a Canon Pixma Pro-1 a couple years back? Since you posted a sales link, and since it's currently offered with a pretty good rebate offer and set of bonus items, perhaps you could offer a few words on your experiences with this product?

Actually, this is nothing more than a continuation of the digital vs film camera debate, which, as I understand it, has convincingly been settled in favor of digital. And so it will be with regard to printing. Increasingly, one can find digital prints hanging in museums and fine galleries. The major source of opposition seems to come from dealers and collectors who have a vested interest in preserving the aura of preciousness of their own inventories and collections. In no way does digital printing diminish the many magnificent images that have been printed by traditional methods, but the march of progress will not be slowed by foot draggers.

Yesterday we visited the Michael Hoppen gallery in London and saw some multi-layered pigment prints, on a gesso coated aluminium substrate by Russian photographer Boris Savalev. They are absolutely jaw droppingly gorgeous to see. In essence these are inkjet prints, albeit created by a custom built machine, layed down on the substrate with perfect registration. Once complete, the print is finished with wax.

Watch this video to see how it's done. This is real craft:


The exhibition hadn't been hung yet, so we were lucky to see the prints. If you're in the area, the exhibition opens on the 28th May.


" Pigment Inkjet Print" would accurately describe the process; It IS inkjet, and 'Pigment' denotes that it's not made from the disastrously fade-prone dye inks....an important distinction.
But "Pigment Inkjet Print" is too long, so I propose making it:


If one likes Pixelographs - more power to them. A good printer makes good images no matter the process.

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