Recently I reached the point I had to order new prints, and having lost my previous printer, I had to find a new one who makes giclée prints–ideally for a price I can afford that also stays within the bounds of what my customers are willing to pay me. During my search around the internet, I stumbled upon Northwest Fine Arts Printing out of Kirkland and Kent, Washington, whose prices are comparable to my former printer.
For those who are environmentally conscious, this a good company to patronize. It’s not something I had thought to pursue when looking for a printer, but I was pleased with what I read regarding their products and practices. From the website:
At NW Fine Art Printing we are committed to keeping the earth and our prints beautiful and healthy. Our inks are aqueous (water based) and do not emit odors or affect air quality. These inks are also free of Nickel (Ni) PFOS, PFOA and VOC’s. This is not only good for the environment, but your prints will last longer due to the lack of harmful chemicals which are often the culprit of yellowing or degradation of prints.
Archival quality prints is what I was looking for, so their easy-to-find statements about their ink and archival papers was reassuring.
One thing I had to learn to do myself when using this printer–part of what keeps the prices down, I’m sure–is the file prep: ensuring everything is at the proper dimensions, that my resolution is within ideal parameters, that the color profile (which I hadn’t even heard of before) is locked in place for the most accurate translation of color from computer to printer. It was a lot of work doing my own file prep (through which I became considerably more skilled at using Gimp), but it meant I got exactly what I wanted–I didn’t have to worry about guesswork on their part when it came to cropping, etc. And now that it is done, those particular images are good to go for next time I make an order.
After I had decided I would use NWFAP for the giclée prints, I discovered another product they offer–art mugs, made with a dye-sublimation process. They offer bulk pricing, and to order 144 or more one gets the lowest price per mug. After a perusal around the internet, I determined there are other printers with cheaper mugs in comparable quantities, but you’d have to choose one design and stick with it. Believe it or not, NWFAP lets you use as many images as you want and they all count toward that final mug count. If I’d wanted to go through that much file prep, I could have come up with 144 different designs for mugs, ordered one of each, and they still would qualify for the 144+ price bracket!
So I decided to add mugs to my stock of art products: 39 different designs, several of each, adding to a gross of mugs. Not to mention my prints, which I tried out on two different types of paper to see which I like better for next time.
Review of the final product: the giclée prints of my artwork turned out perfectly; I especially love the weight and look of the natural rag. I’m also highly pleased with the dye-sublimated mugs–they’re gorgeous. The colors aren’t exact, but the website warns one ahead of time that dye-sublimation isn’t a perfectly accurate process, so I didn’t expect them to be exact (though they aren’t far off). Impressively, they were able to complete my huge order of a gross of mugs and roughly two dozen giclée prints in two weeks, with everything arriving safely by Fed-Ex four days later. I would highly recommend them–I know I’ll be back when I need to order more prints!