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Author Topic: Paper of suitable quality for selling at art shows  (Read 9198 times)
mr.dude
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« on: May 29, 2006, 06:56:35 AM »
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Hi everyone,
 
   i'm planning on selling prints at art shows in the future.  some simple questions:
 
Would fine art papers be overkill?  or would normal matte papers be good enough?  
same question regarding mats/backing boards - i've found mats/backing that are acid free throughout, and those that are acid free only on the surface.  the price difference is about 75 cents each.

since i'm new to the whole art show thing i'll most likely be pricing my prints in the bottom price bracket.   i don't want to be short changing myself by offering high quality materials at too low a price, yet at the same time i don't want to be offering materials inferior to the competition.  

thanks very much!  
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2006, 09:06:39 PM »
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High quality materials are a definite selling point at art shows. Since you're putting your name on your work, you might as well use fine paper and matte board. This permits you to honestly inform customers about good expected print longevity. Seen another way, the incremental cost of better materials per print is pretty low compared to the cost of all the time and effort you put into your photography.
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mdijb
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2006, 09:51:16 AM »
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I have been doing art fairs for 4 years and there is a LOT of competition out there.  What will separate yours from the rest is the image and print quality--you need to present the best possible quality you can muster--would you settle for anything else on your own walls?  This means you should use the materials that give the best quality, and that means probably using the better and more expensive papers.  I agree with the comment above--the extra cost of the paprer is very small compared to the rest of the costs and the cost of your time.  While not highly informed, the buying public is aware of the permanence issue in a general way and being able to tell them you are using archival papers and inks is important to a lot of them.

Go for the gold.


MDIJB    www.mdiimaging.com
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mr.dude
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2006, 08:51:03 PM »
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thanks for the replies  

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I have been doing art fairs for 4 years and there is a LOT of competition out there.  What will separate yours from the rest is the image and print quality--you need to present the best possible quality you can muster--would you settle for anything else on your own walls?  This means you should use the materials that give the best quality, and that means probably using the better and more expensive papers.  I agree with the comment above--the extra cost of the paprer is very small compared to the rest of the costs and the cost of your time.  While not highly informed, the buying public is aware of the permanence issue in a general way and being able to tell them you are using archival papers and inks is important to a lot of them.

Go for the gold.
MDIJB    www.mdiimaging.com
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66904\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


i have a few questions/concerns, and please do not take this as a challenge against the advice i have recieved - just trying to work out the details:

taking into account the added costs of:
epson ultra-smooth fine art paper vs. epson enhanced matte, and
completely acid free mats/backing vs. mats/backing with acid free surfaces only

the cost difference for a 8x12 print and 11x14 mat/backing using the better materials comes out to about $1.75 each (at least for me).  since i am initially planning to print about 600 8x12's (5 each in this size) and 240 11x17's (2 each in this size) that comes out to an extra $1050 in just the 8x12 size.  i could easily compensate with a minimum selling price increase, but with my limited budget that's quite a significant sum to pay upfront.  and not having any experience selling prints, i'm not sure if i'll even recover any of the costs.  should i make any changes to the # of prints i am planning to start off with?  

looking at the test results from wilheim research and using the unframed bare-bulb rating

ultra smooth fine art paper rates at 57years color/138years B&W
enhanced matte 45years color/110years B&W
premium luster 48years color/58 years B&W
(i may use other papers)

not sure that the extra longevity of the better paper will make much of difference in actual use (will anyone keep my prints that long).  QUESTION:  is there archival quality luster or semi-gloss inkjet paper?  i will be using luster paper for certain images and if there isn't an archival quality paper of this type, would it be weird that i offer it along side fine art paper of higher quality? (images will be printed on matte or semi-glossy/luster only, the same image won't appear on both types of paper.)

i also have no idea how long that mat/backing with acid free surfaces only will last.  

if after reading the above concerns and the answer is to still definately go with the archival material, then the matter is settled and i will definately take the advice of you individuals who have more experience than i do.  

thanks
« Last Edit: May 30, 2006, 09:15:43 PM by mr.dude » Logged
Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2006, 10:44:11 AM »
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1) The most consistently successful photographer in my area, in terms of selling at art shows & fairs, makes his exclusive use of archival materials and fine art paper a big part of his marketing pitch.
2) You should test the waters first at some smaller venues before committing to such a huge number of prints. I started selling a few prints through a local photo/craft shop and soon got a good idea of which images would sell, and for how much.
3) Epson archival matte reportedly yellows as it ages due to its cheap optical brighteners. This makes it worthwhile in my mind to splurge for the better papers.
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mdijb
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2006, 11:47:57 AM »
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The papers you listed last much longer than the earlier prints made with dye based inks and their permanence is acceptable--the key is to use the pigmented inks--20 vs 50 years is a big improvement.  However, the new HP dye based printers have very good longevity as well--sooo many good choices make life difficult.  I agree with Geoff--do not commit to a large number of prints until you  know they will sell--I have been fooled very often and found my judgement about what would sell to be wrong many times.  I have no comment about the glossy paper because I print my  images on matt papers only, but I think there are much better papers available than the matt surfaced Epson papers for around the same cost.  Check out Moab entrada and Innova papers.

MDIJB
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mr.dude
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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2006, 04:10:27 AM »
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thank you both very much.  i think i know of a good way to "test the waters" which will take a huge financial risk off my shoulders.  i found a lot of people liked the moab entrada paper and i'll definately be taking a close look at that option.  i'll try making smaller prints of ALL my images on matte fine art paper to see how things turn out.  hopefully i'll like the results enough and i won't have to spend an additional $900 (ouch!) on imageprint to use phatte black.

again, thank you both for your advise.  this has been immensly helpfull.  of course, any additional comments/replies are total welcome!  
« Last Edit: June 01, 2006, 04:12:46 AM by mr.dude » Logged
Rusty
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2006, 10:34:50 PM »
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"since i am initially planning to print about 600 8x12's (5 each in this size) and 240 11x17's (2 each in this size) "

Before you print that quantity and unless the volume discount makes it worthwhile (doubtful) I suggest that you only print multiples of the most sellable prints. The beauty of digital printing is the ability to quickly print to demand from files on hand.
Talk to your accountant as well because you may be taxed on your inventory. The late Toni Only famously burned many paintings and sketches because Revenue Canada was to tax him on that.
The first rule of retail is inventory turns, good luck
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dlashier
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2006, 11:34:57 PM »
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since i'm new to the whole art show thing i'll most likely be pricing my prints in the bottom price bracket. 

Be careful with this, to some degree the price defines your work. IOW low priced stuff will be perceived as low quality. Also, you're not selling a commodity (hopefully not just more flower pics    ) so buyers are not shopping primarily on price. I would start at least in the middle of the pack price-wise.

- DL
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mr.dude
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2006, 06:07:23 AM »
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Rusty:  thanks for the tips.  i had planned on the large volume because i didn't want to be at an art show and not have enough of a particular print to sell.  i don't know which will sell and which won't so i was just gonna print all those that i though were good enough - inexperience.  new plan is to find out before i attend my first show which ones will actually sell in a way that wouldn't require me to have immediate stock on hand (or more than 1).  

dlashier:  sound like good advice.  i just found some info last night that echoed what you mentioned.  not sure what could be worse than people thinking your photographs are low value/quality - bottom of the price range is out.  thanks

i really appreciate everyone's replies and willingness to help
« Last Edit: June 02, 2006, 06:08:07 AM by mr.dude » Logged
framah
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2006, 05:34:19 PM »
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600 at 5 of each means you are offering 120 different images. That's way overkill.
Please try not to take offense but I seriously doubt you have 120 different SELLABLE images.  You need to be brutal with yourself and winnow your list down ALOT.

 Start out with about 20 different images. I have no objection to having a stock of about 5 of each image. You do need more than 1 of each when you are out there selling.
   If your work sells briskly at a couple of shows then you can add a few more images. But to offer 120 different images when you are just starting out is  the sure way to quickly run out of working capital and end up with boxes and boxes of images you can't sell because you spent all of your money in one shot.

At 20 or so images, obviously your expenses have gone way down and now you can well afford to use only the best materials and sell then for a few dollars more.

Good luck!!
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sralser
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2006, 09:59:27 PM »
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I have had no problem with using archival matte paper - I haven't had anyone ask me what paper I use.  Are you aware of the the yahoo group artshow photo (and the companion website  arthowphoto.com).  there is a wealth of information there.  
Unless you get into the big shows (which I haven't done yet), you may find sales slow (there has been a downturn in the market in the last couple of years).  I have only occasionally sold more than 3 or 4 of one image at one show.

I would start small, pick your best 20-30 images print 2 at the smaller size and 1 at the larger size (plus some extra large framed ones for display).  If they sell out at one show chalk it up to experience and know that people want to buy that image.  Then print more for the next show.  But then what sells at one show might not sell at another.  Also be prepared to take images out of frames at shows (if they sell).

The prints that you think are good might not sell.  I made the mistake of printing multiple copies of some images I thought would sell but they never have (some of them I'm still hopeful for).

I'll be in my first big show next month - hopefully things will be good.  

Again - if you haven't -  check out the web site above

Good Luck

Steve
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mr.dude
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2006, 03:56:34 AM »
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120 images is actually out of about 45,000 images (not including personal stuff) so i've tried to be picky.  since it seems a common problem that the images a photographer sees as their best work may not actually sell, i wouldn't know which 20-30 i would actually pick.  i'd probably pick all the wrong ones anyways  .  i think i'm gonna need to work on getting a lot of feedback for this step.  i'll be lowering my print volume dramatically and limiting certain images to a single print.  thanks everyone, i finally feel like have some sense of direction. i don't know long it would have taken to even get to this point without all your generous help.

BTW sralser, thanks for that link - very useful info there.  you'll let us know how the big show turns out?  
« Last Edit: June 05, 2006, 04:01:15 AM by mr.dude » Logged
borzynd
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2006, 09:39:43 AM »
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If it helps at all:

Right now, I have about 130 different images in my show stock.  When first picking images about 18 months ago, I used this as my criteria for what was printed, in some vague order of priority:

- Anything that anyone had ever previously asked to buy (maybe 15 prints)

- Anything that had ever placed competitively

- Prints that multiple non-photographers had commented favorably on

- Personal favorites

- 4 more for attention, rather than thinking they would actually sell


The first, third and much to my surprise, last have been where most of the sales have been.

This method seems o have worked fairly well, as I have been able to sell about 70 different images.

(Some correct me if I am wrong on this)  As I understand it, the archival matte/enhanced matte papers from Epson are not acid free.  The Wilhelm
Institute testing only tests the longevity of the paper/ink combination, rather than the longevity of the paper itself.  

I have picked the Premium Ultrasmooth Paper from Epson as this is supposed to be an acid free paper.  I give up a wee little bit on shadow detail with the canned profiles on the 4000 printer, when compared to the Enhanced Matte, but I need to have prints from both papers on hand to actually notice the difference.  At an art show, and under glass, the difference is absolutely minimal.  

Yes, I did try many papers from other companies.  In many cases, the differences were minimal.  In the end, the choice came down to personal preference and local availability.  A few combinations were just horrible, but those were far and few between and I quite honestly can't completely rule out user error  8-)

You will be best served to use only acid free materials for your show stock.  Realistically, very few people will asked, but it does make a good selling point.  As several people above had stated, the incremental cost is minimal.

Price is unfortunately an issue.  Right now, at least until my next website update, I am seriously underpriced for the art show/festival market.  For reasons that are a bit unclear, if you are too low, buyers won't take you as seriously.  The prices will be going up real soon.  Spend some time on various photographers websites, especially if they are local to your area, to see what they are charging.

Dan Borzynski
www.danborzynskiimages.com
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mr.dude
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2006, 10:15:55 AM »
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The first, third and much to my surprise, last have been where most of the sales have been.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=67432\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

that's very interesting.  so far i've noticed that my girlfriend seems to pick different images than i do.  now i hope no one takes any offense to this, but maybe as photographers some of us look more into the technical aspects of images and are at times somewhat disconnected from the opinions and thinking of other non-photographers?  well, either way i found the info in your post to be very useful.  thanks!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2006, 10:16:46 AM by mr.dude » Logged
sralser
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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2006, 10:36:15 AM »
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You need big spectacular images to get pople into your booth.  Sometimes they sell, sometimes they don't, but at least it get's people to look at your stuff.  Sometimes my wife picks ones that sell, sometimes she doesn't.  

I agree with what dan said - don't have your stuff to cheap.   I had a panorama that, at my first show (a local one where I knew nearly everyone who bought stuff, selling for $90.  1 couple walked past and remarked that it was too cheap, and probably not worth bying. (I did sell 2 at that show).  At my neext show I had upped the price to $110, and the same couple then bought it (it was the mayor and his wife buying stuff for their hotel).  I have since increased the price to $140.  They don't sell as fast now, but mainly because the subjects are scenes from NM and I now live in WI.

My prices are in general a little higher than Dans.  I increased them last year withoout any problems , and am currently trying to decide whether to increase them further.

Steve

www.stevenralserphoto.com
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mr.dude
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« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2006, 11:30:58 AM »
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You need big spectacular images to get pople into your booth. Sometimes they sell, sometimes they don't, but at least it get's people to look at your stuff. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=67437\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

that's a really good idea, thanks.  i might have ended trying to cram a bunch of medium sized images into the most visible areas in an attempt to show as much as i can.  they'd probably end up being too small for anyone to notice unless they were already right up next to the booth.  

thanks for all tips and information, everybody.  i'm learning so much  
« Last Edit: June 05, 2006, 11:33:13 AM by mr.dude » Logged
borzynd
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« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2006, 12:47:13 PM »
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Another good thing to remember.  Booth design will make a huge difference in being able to get people to look at your material.  My framed prints for the booth are all colorful and/or catch the eye even if you don't directly look in.  

Additionally, the panels will be configured as a "l_l".  On the outside, right where people will be walking by, I have 16x20s matted and framed to 22x28 (I think that is the correct frame dimensions).  These two prints are right at eye level and impossible to miss.  

Definitely do a practice setup a weekend or two prior to the first show.  The main point will be to have the booth setup more or less set before you arrive.  Look at what you have displayed, where it is, and why it is there.  Also, look at minor things such as placement of tables and racks to see if there is space to move around in.  The best photos won't sell if there isn't room to view them in.  The second minor point on the setup it to make sure you know how to set up the canopy, panels, tables, racks, etc.  I know it sounds silly, but the actual booth setup, with canopy, panels and walls isn't completely obvious the first time, especially if you have 90-120 minutes to get in, setup and get out.  You really don't want the other exhibitors wondering how you were accepted in the first place, even if you have the best possible material.    

Good luck,

Dan Borzynski
www.danborzynskiimages.com
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Slaughter
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2006, 04:13:23 AM »
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> Would fine art papers be overkill?  or would normal matte papers be good enough?
>  same question regarding mats/backing boards - i've found mats/backing that are
> acid free throughout, and those that are acid free only on the surface.  the price
> difference is about 75 cents each.

I am no pro but did silver halide prints in my lab from when I was 15 (in the 70's). I shoot small, medium and large format. I have seen more or less anything concerning  "papers". I have read many forums reading people comparison for different inkjet papers. There is a kind a psychotic effect flowing around. Let me explain. If inkjet papers are not made by virgin elves living in the old Atlantis lost continent and exclusively produced with the younger leaves of "Chismo" tree (that only exist in the deep of Amazonian forest and is not even mentioned in scientific books) then inkjet papers are considered as crap by quite many people. There are many discussions around concerning the use of OBA in papers. Hahnemuele (the paper maker) has even written a white paper explaining why they use them and why it is not so harmfull. Also, many people only swear by "cotton rag" papers and prohibit the use of "cellulose made" papers. That's getting psychotic!  All the paper used for silve halide printing DID use cellulose and these papers were worldwide accepted as permanent, fine art and archival. I found old silver halide prints dating from the 1890 and stunning. Oh yes, the paper is a "bit" yellow". So?!? Will this ruined the picture? No!, I don't think so. That's crazy today because people (you can also read "customers") only swear by "archival" and "long lasting". I know about some artists using watercolor pigments that are not really stable (all pigments are not necessarily "stable"). So!?!? Will this ruled their entire work? No! Anything build in this world is meants to getting old, and older. This is a natural process. Many improvements have been made to the inks because dye inks were really not stable. That's a good point and apparently the evolution of the inks is quite mature now (pigmented inks). As for the paper there will always have people reluctant to "plastic" papers (because "plastic" means "cheap" for them). That was the case with the debate of "RC" silverhalide papers: many people complained because it was a new concept that they were not accustomed to and were reluctant adapting their habits to a new one (as many adults in general). Cibachrome prints and Kodachrome slides were the only color media accepted by some well-known museum in Switzerland several years ago. And some new pigmented ink jets are even more stable than Cibachrome....

As for me, I use Epson Archival Matte paper (this sooo cheap paper that many pros depreciate) for many prints. But I am investigating with textured papers. I recently received a sample box of Moab papers. Entrada is cited by many _american_ people and I want to make some testing, especially with the heavy weight (300gr). I made some testing with Ilford Gallerie Smooth Fine art that I found very expensive when compared to Hahnemuele Photo Rag. I still have to order Hahnemuele papers (Photo Rag, White Velvet, etc). I did some testing with Epson Velvet and Ultrasmooth (that I like) and watercolor radiant. Many paper manufacturers cited in the forums are only available in the US and since I live in Switzerland (= Europe), it's of no use.

Opting for OBA or not in papers is a matter of taste. Eventually, all OBA will fade away and the underlying paper will return to its natural color. But, this could take a long time. Using cotton papers with no OBA would seem better but you will have to pay for a lower DMax. There are trade-offs to be made.

Eventually, do not forget that paper choice is a matter or personnal taste. In "photography", there is the word "photo" that means "picture" not "paper". Would an Ansel Adam picture really looks bad when printed on an RC sliver halide paper?

Everything I said is IMHO, of course.

_michel moreaux
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mr.dude
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2006, 08:20:43 PM »
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borzynd:  thanks for the advise on booth setup.  so many aspects to consider!

slaughter:  i really appreciate your input - interesting points.


i apoligize for not responding earlier.  didn't mean for it to seem like i didn't care for responses i've been recieving.  i've been extremely busy (and tired) and have been away for work.  this is my short, one day break in-between and the first time i've had internet access in a week.  obviously the info you've all been giving me has been immensely helpful and is very important, and i'd like to thank everyone all again  
« Last Edit: June 16, 2006, 08:44:37 AM by mr.dude » Logged
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