By Courtney Saba

Recreating fine art with wide format digital printing is a form of art in itself. The process, referred to as giclée, creates a final product so accurate that many would believe it to be an original. The combination of specific hardware, ink, and media allows print service providers (PSPs) to use precision to replicate artwork.

Never a Better Time

Established in October 1999, DigitalFusion is an all-digital alternative to the conventional chemical photo lab. “This was at the beginning of the inkjet printing revolution, and provided a brand new way to express visions on paper,” recalls Hugh Milstein, co-founder/president, DigitalFusion.

Today the company occupies a 12,000 square foot work space, employing nearly two dozen full-time, seasonal, as well as freelance professionals. Based out of Culver City, CA and serving North American, as well as European areas, the core services offered are studio and location digital capture, retouching, scanning, printing, and archiving, as well as professional camera rentals. 75 percent of the work DigitalFusion outputs is considered fine art.

When creating fine art, the shop utilizes two Epson printers—a 44-inch SureColor P8000 and a 44-inch Stylus Pro 9900. With a variety of printers to choose from, DigitalFusion decided on Epson because the team believes the printers produce the highest quality prints. Milstein also mentions that the shop requires a printer that can handle the daily demands of a commercial printing company, when orders range from one to 100.

For media, the PSP uses Epson and Hahnemühle. A few types it favors include photo rag, as well as semi matte, silver metallic, and canvas. Milstein says these particular vendors consistently produce quality papers that are simultaneously beautiful and durable.

DigitalFusion runs tests to allow customers a firsthand look at different substrates. “We test for exposure range, black ink density capability, and color fidelity. This gives a good basis to recommend specific papers to customers,” shares Milstein.

With recent advancements in media and print technology, the PSP is aware of influential new trends. Specifically, in the last few years customers have shown a more extensive knowledge of paper choices. Milstein says this exposure to a variety of substrates is exciting for DigitalFusion as it helps to develop and produce the taste of the printing market.

“The artists and photographers of this generation have an amazing luxury that technology affords them. They really have no limits. The printers are now so good, and the ink sets and papers so beautiful, that there has never been a better time to make and sell original fine art,” explains Milstein.

Recreating History

The Red Book at the Biennale Arte

The Red Book at the Biennale Arte, surrounded by DigitalFusion’s Limited Edition Fine Art Prints.

Recently, DigitalFusion reproduced pages from the original art journal of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung for La Biennale di Venezia and its annual international art exhibition, the Biennale Arte. Located in Venice, Italy, La Biennale was founded in 1895. It is a cultural organization promoting contemporary art and regulating exhibitions and research.

Jung hand painted the pages—dating back to 1902—in his studio in Zürich, Switzerland. The colors are a combination of vibrant orange and green pigments, created by hand mixed paints, which over time remained rich, lively, and vivid.

After original scans of the manuscript were conducted in Zürich, DigitalFusion hoped to recreate the journal as realistically as possible. “La Biennale never exhibited inkjet prints in a show before this. To be included in a premier art fair was an opportunity to make a statement on the future of art as it pertained to modern printmaking and presentation,” explains Milstein.

The original pages were replicated on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 gsm on the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 with Epson’s UltraChrome HDR ink.

Job submittal to final receipt of the graphics took a total of two months. 40 total pieces in approximately 2,500 square feet of exhibit space were installed by curators in Venice. Jung’s original journal was also on display—under glass—at the exhibit.

The juxtaposition between the reproductions and original works of art allowed attendees to appreciate the similarities between Jung’s hand paintings and the Epson Stylus Pro 9900’s capabilities. “It was a masterful success that led many to believe that they were in fact looking at an original,” shares Milstein.

Growing Technology

Fine art reproduction continues to thrive with technology advancements. More potential buyers recognize the benefits of digital printmaking thanks to PSPs like DigitalFusion.

As featured in Digital Output Magazine, Feb 2016