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Developing a definitive ICC color profile color managed giclee workflow Print E-mail

Learning how best to accomplish a professional giclee workflow.

Workflow is jargon meaning the flow (stages) step by step from beginning to end.

Giclee workflow means everything you need to do, step by step, from receiving the painting from the artist through digitizing the painting, then printing the giclee rendition to sending the finished masterpiece to the artist.

Workflow also means learning the reality of what it is actually like to produce serious giclee, fine art photography, or decor.

The buzz word today is “color managed workflow” which implies that everything from your color monitor is calibrated, and you are using professional custom ICC profiles (meaning you are making your own ICC profiles with a spectrophotometer and Monaco ICC profile software. Most professional giclee ateliers do custom profiles; they do not rely on canned profiles.

FLAAR has been producing giclee prints for seven years, the last five years of which are in partnership with BGSU in Ohio. The university provides the space to FLAAR, which is an independent institute (our other office is in Guatemala, to cover Latin America). FLAAR is the only university-based institute in the world to have available both a Cruse reprographic giclee scanning system and also a large format BetterLight tri-linear giclee scanning system. Hence we are in a unique position to assist photographers and artists in understanding the differences and similarities of these two highly professional methods of digitizing oil paintings and watercolor paintings for giclee reproduction.

Plus FLAAR also has medium format digital camera systems (such as Phase One P 30, 31-megapixels) and Canon EOS 5D (12 megapixels). All together an arsenal of professional equipment that allows the staff to know, inside out, the pros and cons of every single possible way you can digitize a painting.

Even shooting with film and then scanning: FLAAR has two different Creo-Scitex scanners, including the impressive Creo EverSmart Supreme.

A digital giclee workflow is one crucial aspect; but your overall Business Plan is also essential.

Not too many other giclee ateliers want to train you with a Business Plan, because you could become competition. FLAAR is non-profit and dedicated to public education. It is our goal to train competent people to become even more capable.

Competition helps everyone; if there was no competition it would be like East Germany. I lived in former East Germany for several years (Halle an der Saale) and was in Berlin the week the wall fell down. I still have a passport stamp entering East Germany but no passport stamp exiting because the Wall was down by then and we just drove through a break in the Wall. There were no more border formalities.

I prefer competitive capitalism, and the Center for Applied Technology at BGSU has a mandate to assist companies become more competitive. So be sure to get your hands on the business aspects of a giclee atelier: you need to learn the inkjet and digital imaging aspects, but business aspects too. FLAAR covers all of this.

Where and how to get started?

We have put our experience, both as giclee producers ourselves as well as being educators, into the FLAAR Reports on giclee. They are divided into groups (themes, by Series) but to get started it’s more practical just to order the entire batch.

If you order the three giclee packages, the RIP software Series, and Survival Series, and Color Management Series that is all the basics to get you up and going. Plus if you order these six packages (series) then you can speak with Dr Hellmuth directly in-person, either by phone or via his direct personal e-mail. There is no charge for personal answers to your individual questions when you have purchased the six series.

Or you can hire FLAAR and/or BGSU staff as consultants, but it is cheaper to buy the FLAAR reports and then get free consultation (you get an initial 30 minutes at no extra price; this is included once you order six series).

Remember, producing giclee prints is a lot more than just deciding which printer to buy. You need to be familiar with the entire workflow: digitizing the paintings, RIP software (which one, and why? We have 9 different RIPs so we can explain which one will work best; don’t worry; you need only one, not all nine). Then you need to learn color management (at least the basics). But which should you select: X-Rite or GretagMacbeth. Yikes, so many decisions.

We have already done all the trial and error ourselves; year after year, So we can explain, in advance, where the tough parts will be, and how to survive. That’s the job of a testing institute, so we waste our time trying each brand and model so you don’t have to waste your time doing all this testing on your own (unless you have a large staff, a substantial budget, and six years…).


First posted August 07, 2006

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