What Are Fine Art Prints? - Cramer Imaging - Quality Fine Art Photography
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What Are Fine Art Prints?

What Are Fine Art Prints?
Fine art photographers everywhere talk a lot about fine art prints.  Here at Cramer Imaging, we do a lot of talking about it too.  It sounds like a very nebulous and ill-defined term.  If this is what you think, you would be correct.  However, let's define what a fine art print is a little more, at least in terms of what we offer here at Cramer Imaging.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of one of our award-winning black and white cloud photos matted in a grey or neutral mat

Sadly, there is no industry standard definition of what a fine art print is that I can quote back to you.  Because of this, there is a lot of debate out there in art circles about what is and is not considered a 'fine art print.'  There are rough guidelines which tend to be widely used on what constitutes a fine art print.  A fine art print is often considered to be a very to extremely high quality print, often digital in origin, which is printed on acid-free paper using archival quality inks.  Since this is a bit to digest, let's break it down a bit.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of six base level archival ink cartridges for a photo quality inkjet printer
Here's an example of the archival inks available for consumer-grade photo quality printers.  The full set is almost $100 to buy new.
There is no standard to the paper (like thickness, dimensions, gloss or mat finish, rag texture, etc.) other than the acid-free status.  You will find fine art prints done on all kinds of paper with all kinds of finishes.  Your only concern is whether or not the paper will leech acid.  Here at Cramer Imaging, we make sure to use acid-free paper for all of our prints.

Archival ink is a bit easier to define.  It must be fade and weather resistant in order to qualify as 'archival.'  This means it must not fade easily with sunlight and UV exposure.  It must also not run if exposed to water or similar liquids.  Often, these kinds of inks are pH neutral or slightly basic (alkaline).  The idea is that, combined with the acid-free paper, the print will last for generations.  Here at Cramer Imaging, we also select the best archival inks we can find to create our fine art prints.

The 'high quality' portion of the definition is even more difficult to quantify for you.  Since this is fine art we are talking about, you might very well have a different definition of what constitutes 'high quality' fine art than we do.

The digital part is the only portion of the definition where we can give you some objective standards to work with.  Since digital has become the industry standard lately for fine art print production, we can easily give you some of the computer specifications required to create a 'high quality' fine art print.

In order to create a top quality fine art print, you will need to use an inkjet printer designed for photo printing.  A laser printer simply does not have the width and depth of color required to create a fine art print.  A regular inkjet printer, while an improvement, also won't display the range of color you want to see in a fine art print.  This is why fine art prints are created on photo quality inkjet printers.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of a consumer level photo quality black inkjet printer

The other standard is the dpi (dots per inch) which the printer uses to create the image.  If you want a seamless print, and you do if you're looking at buying a fine art print, then the digital file that the final image is printed from must have a minimum of 300 dpi.  There have been scientific studies done to see what the minimum dpi is for no longer noticing the dots.  That is the figure that the scientists came up with.  Here at Cramer Imaging, all of our digital photo files are kept at no less than 300 dpi and always printed on a photo quality inkjet printer.

So there you have it.  A fine art print has a loose industry definition of being a digital image printed at 300 dpi, using a photo quality inkjet printer, on acid-free paper with archival quality ink.  The subject matter on a fine art print is yours to decide.