RoCo 6x6x2013

I submitted these two pieces to the 2013 Rochester Contemporary Art Center 6×6 show today.  This is a fun show where you donate original 6″ x 6″ works of art and they sell them to raise funds for the center.  The artist’s name is not revealed until after the item is sold.  I heard they were about to go under a few years ago, and they decided to give it one more shot.  They marketed it better I guess, and now the show receives international submissions.  Last year there were over 7,000 pieces, which they put up with tacks in a grid floor to ceiling.  It is fun to attend, seeing this crazy variety of art – my kids liked it a lot.  Admission is only $1 and it runs through June and the first half of July.

Lupito is a rescued Chihuahua, and McLovin’ lives at Farm Sanctuary.

This is my first time printing a computer-aided work.  Not wanting to print it on fine-art paper, with its cold-press sort-of texture, I used Moab Lasal Matte paper on my Canon Pixma Pro 9000 II.  I used the ICC file Moab provides with no problems.  It came out fantastic – it glows in the least amount of light, almost seeming like it would glow in the dark.  Click the Business-Prints category at the right to see more about printing.

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Pet Portrait Posters

I have mostly relied on word of mouth for my business, but decided to start advertising.  When I mentioned my vet’s office idea to my art friend, she suggested making a poster, and then I had the idea of using some blank 6 x 5 cards I have printed on before.  They are very inexpensive at Michael’s.

They open up to 6 x 10.  I printed them up on my Canon Pixma 9000 as shown, with the fold just above the bottom cat.  Then I made it into a business card holder by cutting about 1/2″ off one business card and taping it words down with clear packing tape to the blank side of the card behind the upper cat’s head.  It is taped on just the upper and lower sides so that about eight of my business cards can slide into it and just peek out to the right of the upper cat.  I wrote “Take One” there.  Even with only one card in it it seems to hold well.

Then I folded up the card, inserted a cover letter, and put it in the envelope.  When you open it, it looks like a cat card, but it’s a business-card-holding poster that can be hung up either as shown or if space is a problem, folded under with just the top half showing.

My original idea had been to use the inside of the card as the request-to-post, so no separate cover letter.  To do that I’d need to put the business cards behind the big cat instead, which would mean no fold-up option.

For the closer vets, I included in the cover letter an offer to bring by some framed prints as display samples for their walls.  My friend suggested offering those removable 3M Command hooks.

I’m feeling pretty clever!  Now all it has to do is work.

Prints for Sale

I finally got my act together and posted prints for sale.

I decided to go with a pretty low price point for the smaller prints, so that my art is affordable for everyone.  These prints are beautiful copies, and I’ve offered a real bargain.  They’ll look like original art on the wall.

I verified with Hahnemuhle that Canon Fine Art Museum Etching paper is vegan and went through my WordPress photo files and figured out which paintings I can sell prints from.

Unfortunately, some of my favorites are from photos I don’t own, particularly my early paintings of the animals from Farm Sanctuary.  I am still hoping to be able to work out something with the photographers, in the way of donating profits to Farm Sanctuary.

Printing Success

McLovin', 8 x 11 Watercolor

In my last post I described purchasing a professional printer to make prints of my artwork and the trouble I had using the wrong paper. Well, the right paper arrived Friday, and after putting off working with what I knew would be a series of tedious and confusing dialog boxes, I tackled it today. I was not disappointed in the expected tedium, but I prevailed in the end.

I can now tell you how to make 8 x 10 fine art prints on a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II.  FYI, I have XP and am printing from a TIFF of the vivid 8 x 11 watercolor shown here.

1. Purchase Canon Fine Art Paper. I used “Museum Etching” because I do textured-paper artwork and wanted to mimic that.

2. Visit the website of the manufacturer, Hahnemuhle.  Follow the links/directions to download three files, the PK and MK installation instructions for your printer, and the ICC file for your paper and printer.  I don’t know why there are two instructions, since neither of them matches the ink in my printer.  Look them over and decide if you want to just do what I did.

3. Install the ICC file.  I got these directions from a forum, since Canon seemed unwilling to share.

Easiest way is to go to the Windows Control Panel (***), open up the Printers tab, and right-click on the icon or listing for the Pixma9000, and select Properties…

***If you’re a Mac user, I don’t know what their equivalent is called; but there will be somewhere you can access all the system basics…

That ‘should’ bring up the printer’s control panels, and you should see a ‘Colour Management’ tab. Select that and look for the ‘Colour Profiles’ tab. You should then see an option to ‘Add’ a new profile. Select that, surf to wherever you have the ICC profle stored, select, and save as the default [by clicking the Manual radio button]!

Off you go!

NOTE; For BEST results you should also set [Canon Digital Photo Professional] DPP’s colour management tab (Main menu, Tools, Preferences, Colour Management) to use that same ICC profile as well… “

I don’t have DPP, just the software that came with the printer: Canon Solutions and Photoshop Elements 8.  After trying two Canon applications to print I decided to go with Photoshop Element Organizer, since it was giving me the best layout options, and I was able to figure out how to apply the ICC.

4. I turned on the ICC through Adobe PE Organizer: File, Print, More Options, Color Management, set Print Space to the ICC you loaded in Control Panel.

5. You have to turn off color correction in the Canon driver or your prints will be ghastly. I did this thusly:  in the Canon Pixma Pro9000 II series Properties dialog box (you can get here various ways such as advanced options in a print dialog or through the Canon Solution Menu), click the “Main” tab, set “Color/Intensity” to manual, click “Set,” choose the “Matching” tab, set “Color Correction” to None, and take a well-needed rest.

For your info, with this thick paper you have to use the front loader, and maybe you are as perplexed as me about how to set that up.  The pictures in the manual and the dialog boxes were confusing to me, so I’ll try another explanation: You open the front tray in the usual way, then grab the tray on either end and lift straight up, allowing the edge towards you to tip upwards, and yet you will also lift the whole platform up about an inch and it will settle in at its new height, the height at which paper can enter straight in.  You also have to push the button at the top back right to open the rear tray, and leave extra room for the paper to poke out the back briefly without hitting your wall.  The paper won’t go in the front until the onscreen dialog box tells you – just follow the directions.

Still I had a problem: using the Hahnemuhle-recommended “Museum Rag” setting, the maximum size is 7.5 x 10, which is unacceptable, since I want customers to be able to use pre-cut 8 x 10 mats. I need at least another 1/4″ side to side for a precut to work. But this Rag setting is sure better than the Etching setting, which put even more ridiculous limitations on layout.

In working on this problem, I came up with this forum posting by another frustrated user. According to a responder, the Fine Art paper settings only set paper thickness and have nothing to do with ink or color settings. Their downside is they have the ridiculous and unnecessary margin limitations I noticed. The writer recommended using the “Matte Photo Paper” setting for all matte art paper, and relying on the ICC for ink settings.

I tried this and while I was unable to simply set the image to 8 x 10, I was now able to choose Borderless (in the Canon properties dialog), and on the Page Setup tab there I set Extension to minimum. With my art, this was just big enough to fit in a precut matt; I realize that the problem at this point is that my original is not the same format ratio as 8 x 10 and so making the print any wider will cut off even more top and bottom. So, no longer a printer issue.  If I did want it wider, I could have increased the Extension.

The prints are beautiful now, and while I can see that they are slightly more blue than the original, I’m sure I can fix that, and unless you compare them side by side it is not a problem anyway.  The colors tend towards blue only on the last print, done with the Matte Photo Paper setting, so apparently there is a color effect.  I’ll have to figure that out.

But, success!

Fine Art Printer

McLovin'

I’ve been ruminating for about five months on how to get high quality prints of my artwork at reasonable prices.  After researching local printers, they all want $20-$40 to make an 8 x 10″ print, and they want a week or so to do it.  This does not fit in with my business plan to provide high quality prints with a fast turnaround at a reasonable cost while not carrying an inventory.

I’ve been talking to artists selling prints at craft shows.  Now there’s a marketing idea I’m really not interested in.  After talking to these friendly folks for 10 minutes or so, I got to go home; they were there all day.  Ugh.  Anyway, they all seem to have printing companies such as I had researched do the printing for them, and when I asked about costs they said, yes, they try to order multiple copies to keep down the cost, and they have to give plenty of lead time.

I don’t want to do that.  I figure, why try to guess which of my paintings will resonate with people?  I can offer the broadest range of my work, experiment with new ideas, and eliminate inventory costs if I can just print on demand.  Since printing companies seem unable to do this, I began thinking about buying a pro-level printer.

Heidi

Serendipitously, I was just about to research them when my husband heard that his friend’s friend wanted to sell one, a Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Inkjet Photo Printer.  I looked it up online and while photographers rave about its photo prints, I was only able to find a few people talking about fine art reproductions.  The friend’s friend kindly let me try it out before buying, especially nice of him since I hadn’t realized it was unopened – the printer went from “new in box” to “one day of heavy use” on my watch.  This heavy item was even delivered – what kind friends my husband has!

I worked on prints of these two paintings today, one a watercolor, the other a pastel, both of which I’ve had trouble printing in the past.  I wasn’t really prepared for the printer and didn’t have the correct paper on hand.  What I did learn is that I was unable to get an acceptable print on any of the papers I usually do my work on, various watercolor and pastel papers; the reds in particular looked ghastly, all blotchy.  I was able to get some very acceptable prints on a few sheets of photo paper I had lying around (looked just like color copy paper); they looked great, but I can’t use thin shiny paper like that for my art prints.

But people say it works on Canon’s fine art paper, which isn’t available locally, so I decided to trust them (and not return a used printer to a friend).  I ordered a pack of Canon’s Museum Etching paper online and paid for the printer.  I’ll let you know what happens.