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Author Topic: Frank discussion re: print permanence and printer/ink recommendations  (Read 12577 times)
luxborealis
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« on: December 12, 2011, 01:05:36 PM »
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One thing I've noticed since doing some research into print permanence and printer/ink selection: the most popular printer that most pro photographers recommend - various models of Epson with pigment inks - has the lowest print permanence ratings of the three big guns, HP and Canon being the other two (see: http://www.wilhelm-research.com/Canson/canson_infinity.html amongst others). HP, on the other hand, consistently has significantly higher ratings - more than twice as long as the same paper with K3 w/Vivid Magenta, Epson's latest greatest ink set. For example,
  • Canson Satin RC = 221years for HP; 116 years for Canon and 88 years for Epson;
  • Canson Baryta Photographique = 160 years for HP; 69 years for Canon; 45 years for Epson.
Please do not respond with "that's longer than I'll ever live" because that's not the point. When we sell prints, they are meant to last for as long as the owner has it, not how long we live!

So, this begs three questions:

How much of your decision about which printer to purchase is based on print permanence? Should we collectively be placing more emphasis on it that we have been?

Are those who use Epson (including myself) at a significant disadvantage? If by recommending Epson, are we putting brand name ahead of the real-life data? Or is print permanence really not an issue? i.e. Is 45 years for Canson Baryta long enough? (99 years under UV filtered glass).

How much of your decision regarding paper is based on print permanence? I realize that there is more to paper-selection than permanence (e.g. D-max,base colour, etc.; the paper has to suit the photo), but I notice, for e.g. that Canson RC paper has longer permanence (Satin = 88 years) than Rag Photographique (69 years), Platine (53 year) or Baryta (45 years) - three favourites of the print-selling crowd. Obviously, UV filtration makes a huge difference, but overall permanence is still relatively longer with RC.

What gives?? This data flies in the face two "maxims" I continue to read about from pro printers: that of whole-hearted endorsement of Epson and that of the "museum quality" 100% cotton rag, no OBAs schtick. Comments?
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 01:55:07 PM »
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It partly depends on what you do with your prints. Do you frame them? If so with what kind of glass? Where will they be displayed? Under what conditions? Or, do you keep them in dark storage and look at them periodically. Take a look on the page you linked at the huge range of estimates depending on the usage conditions. Since you are asking us whether these statistics entered into decision-making about printers and papers, I can relate my thinking. As most of my prints are in print storage boxes or bound as books, I'm not the least bit concerned with this issue. I bought an Epson 4900 because it has the combination of features and print quality that I like, and I mostly use Ilford Gold Fibre Silk in it, because it is such a rich and nearly neutral media for both colour and black and white. Whatever I do with these prints, they will be permanent enough. Looking at all this with a bit of historical perspective, it was a much different story for users of desktop printers before Epson introduced the 2000P only about 12 years ago.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2011, 02:11:45 PM »
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First off I consider aardenburg-imaging to be a more authoritative source for print permanence ratings. Its a bit more involved to understand, but the results are IMO and many others considered to be better tests for determining the archival characteristics of ink/prints. The first thing you will notice is that AI estimates are far lower than Wilhelm-roughly about half. That is because what WH considers noticeable fade is faaaaaar to generous-most FA printers would completely freak at fading long before it reaches WH's test failure.

You will also notice that paper is as important as ink and that the dreaded OBAs are not as dreadful as we thought-it depends on where they are in the paper.

HP does indeed have good ratings but not always and they are not alone. The best by far at the moment is the Cone Carbon inkset on Hannemule Photo Rag. (if I remember right).
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 02:16:19 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

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John Nollendorfs
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2011, 02:27:03 PM »
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It's all relative! Today's color inkjet prints are so much more resistant to fade compared to chromogenic photographic papers, it's not even funny.

Epson would like you to think that they traded their print life numbers for a slightly larger printing gamut. For most photographic prints this really doesn't matter that much. Kind of depends on your photographic style.

I've been using an HPZ3100 (with the limited gamut red) and have been totally satisfied with the gamut it delivers. The reason I switched from Epson to HP had nothing to do with the print life numbers, but rather ink consumption, reliability and consistency of prints the HP offered. In the nearly 4 years I've had the printer, I never run nozzle checks (as most Epson users are used to doing before printing). I've replaced the print heads only once since I've had the printer, costing me about $350--user replaceable.

I print a lot of art reproduction prints for artists, and it's essential that I get consistency, which the HP delivers.

There are a lot more things to consider that the relative life of prints. And remember, these numbers only reflect the life if kept on display the whole while, illuminated 12 hrs per day, at a fairly high level of light. Another concern, that we can not anticipate is the life of the media. As you may or may not know, RC media when it first was introduced, was very susceptible to degradation. The media is much more stable today, but remember, it has only been around since the 1970's.



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MHMG
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2011, 03:07:51 PM »
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It's all relative! Today's color inkjet prints are so much more resistant to fade compared to chromogenic photographic papers, it's not even funny.

Some are, some are not Wink.

I know. You probably meant those prints using OEM pigmented color ink sets. In that case, as a general rule, often, but again, sometimes not. It all depends on how critically one evaluates the printer/ink/media/(coating?) combination and also the contribution of image content (i.e., the specific tones and colors in the image) to the visual perception of change in the print over time.

cheers,
Mark
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« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 03:24:32 PM by MHMG » Logged
deanwork
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 08:33:07 PM »
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Take a look at these new WR Canson rag media figures with the HP Vivera inks - >450 years for color? Which is twice what HP stated for their rag paper tests.

http://www.wilhelm-research.com/Canson/canson_infinity.html

I wish we had put in more of the Canson papers to test at Aardenburg. It's going to take years of accelerated time to find out if this is accurate or not.
It does seem encouraging for these papers though. He has tests for the Hahnemuhle Hp Photorag at half of this for some odd reason, and we know Photorag is holding very well in other tests.

Both the Cone Carbon (warm) inkset and the HP Vivera BW tests that I and others sent to  Aardenburg are hardly changing at all, they are a lot of 100 % numbers down the line,  actually only the white paper base has moved at all and that is very little, on Photorag 308. But we still have to wait years to get to >450 Wilhelm years :-).

A client of mine asked me the other day, ... how do we know that "interpolated" testing equals real world long term results? I didn't have a good convincing answer for that, maybe Mark does.

John
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 08:45:22 PM »
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A client of mine asked me the other day, ... how do we know that "interpolated" testing equals real world long term results? I didn't have a good convincing answer for that, maybe Mark does.

John

This question of course has been around for quite a while and there is a considerable discussion of it, including by Henry Wilhelm himself - one key issue for predictive testing being the risk of reciprocity failure. I don't know whether there is a generally agreed view amongst the specialists about whether current testing methods can address this with a high degree of reliability.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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MHMG
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2011, 09:20:53 PM »
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An early flight to Portland, Oregon tomorrow morning, and I'm still not ready... I will try to weigh in more on this thread when I regain a wifi spot on the road and some spare time , perhaps tomorrow evening.

As some of you know, I have spent most of my career conducting research on photographic print permanence, so I have an active interest in the subject and believe it's as relevant a subject as ever, but I meet more and more photographers these days who think it's a non issue. Their rationale is that it's easy to reprint at will from the digital file.  Under some circumstances their approach is no doubt quite true. It's all those other circumstances where print durability still matters.

cheers,
Mark
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deanwork
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2011, 10:23:49 PM »
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I was referring to Mark at Aardenburg who is the authority, if any one is.

It's not a non-issue for me. There are a million reasons why a photographer can't reprint an image and we could spend a hour on that alone. But the two that come quickly to mind are 1. an entire limited edition portfolio is sold to a client, gallery, or museum 2. the photographer is dead ( yea that will eventually happen, no matter how hard you attempt to avoid it).

john
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2011, 11:00:24 PM »
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Hi,

Interpolation is good science, extrapolation is black magick. Permanence testing is probably a mix of both, but the best we have. Else you can wait 400 years?

I would guess the old masters would be happy having Henry Wilhelm's permanence data. Actually, there is a lot of color shift to a couple hundred years old art, but we have never seen the original colors.

Best regards
Erik

This question of course has been around for quite a while and there is a considerable discussion of it, including by Henry Wilhelm himself - one key issue for predictive testing being the risk of reciprocity failure. I don't know whether there is a generally agreed view amongst the specialists about whether current testing methods can address this with a high degree of reliability.
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NikoJorj
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2011, 03:04:58 AM »
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Actually, there is a lot of color shift to a couple hundred years old art, but we have never seen the original colors.
No source at hand so this may be pure bogus, but I remember having heard of one of Van Gogh's iris paintings as having initially a very delicate rose background (as described in the painter's correspondence), yet today it is a drab beige.

About the original question, yes there is an already good enough permanence for prints optimally stored, but wouldn't it be more gratificating to be able to expose the prints as we like, with enough lighting, without any fear of damaging it?
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2011, 05:41:36 AM »
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The old masters could in some cases build on expertise of older masters and the surviving samples of art in bad or excellent condition. There were old masters that wished to experiment and we should be grateful for that. Of course not all their work survived due to the experimental character. There were old masters that had no money to buy the best media and pigments available then. There were older masters who did not give a damn and there are modern masters that do not give a damn. Da Vinci belonged to the experimental guys. Van Eyck too but he had more luck with his experiments. Van Gogh had poor times and was not always sane. Vermeer was meticulous in every aspect of his art. Modern masters become masters by art critics, Saatchi and other mechanisms that have little to do with knowledge of media and methods. Media that also went through revolutionary changes like the art it carries. On one hand it became more difficult to create lasting art pieces, on the other hand science could be a big help now. Aardenburg is a good source for the art printing shops if they care for this aspect of printing. Suggesting that today's digital prints can be replaced with the same prints ten years later is naïve, processes and media change faster than ever and musea, artists, collectors, insurance companies etc are not always happy with the idea to replace older art with a new one. Outside that circuit things are different but prices too so it may not be wise to sell at a bottom price with the promise to repeat the job when the old print fades away.


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2011, 08:23:57 AM »
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Hi,

Interpolation is good science, extrapolation is black magick. Permanence testing is probably a mix of both, but the best we have. Else you can wait 400 years?

I would guess the old masters would be happy having Henry Wilhelm's permanence data. Actually, there is a lot of color shift to a couple hundred years old art, but we have never seen the original colors.

Best regards
Erik


Erik - yes of course. The best we have is far better than nothing - in fact very far better; and the contributions of Henry Wilhelm, Mark McCormack-Goodhart and other scientists working in this field - are enormous. The intent of my remark was simply to point out that perhaps there are good reasons not to be TOO hung-up on the notion of precision to the numbers - especially for predictive as opposed to comparative purposes - and be happy that we are no longer in the pre-Epson 2000P era as far as inkjet printing is concerned.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2011, 08:37:20 AM »
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In many cases, I think the printer decision is somewhat similar to the camera decision.  You buy into a brand and generally stay with that brand.  Switching printers is certainly easier than switching camera systems.  But there's still a new learning/testing curve to go through.  

Epson was the first mainstream pigment ink option for digital printing.  I'd guess than many hopped on that bandwagon and have stayed on.  Canon and HP were later to the pigment ink game.  They had to go through their pigment ink growing pains.  If a user was with Epson through its pigment ink growing pains, they may not want to go through it again with another manufacturer.  So if they want to switch, they may wait for the 2nd or 3rd generation printers to come out when the other companies have improved their technology.

For a long while HP printers didn't play well with third party papers and the paper selection from HP was fairly poor.  For a long while paper manufacturers weren't producing profiles for as many of the Canon and HP printers as they were for Epson.  

All the talk of 'print permanence' and 'archival quality' of prints is just that; talk.  Colour prints today are lasting far longer than colour prints from film did.  The exception may be dye transfer but I'm not sure even those last as long as well made inkjet prints.  Black and white prints, similarly, now have ratings that rival or surpass darkroom prints.  

Providing any sort of assurance or guarantee of longevity or permanence or (the dreaded word) archivability to a print buyer is a fool's game.  It's a contrived notion that the 'art set' came up with to try and justify the ability to sell a new (and for many suspect) product.  
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2011, 09:00:29 AM »
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..............

All the talk of 'print permanence' and 'archival quality' of prints is just that; talk. .........................

Providing any sort of assurance or guarantee of longevity or permanence or (the dreaded word) archivability to a print buyer is a fool's game.  It's a contrived notion that the 'art set' came up with to try and justify the ability to sell a new (and for many suspect) product.  

Bob, as much as one needs to keep a very open mind about the limits of scientific endeavours, I think this really doesn't do justice to the state-of-the-art that has been achieved in this field and the honest interest of most fine-art print makers to sell to their clients works that buyer and seller hope and expect to have long-lasting value.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2011, 09:40:19 AM »
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Epson was the first mainstream pigment ink option for digital printing.  I'd guess than many hopped on that bandwagon and have stayed on.  Canon and HP were later to the pigment ink game.  They had to go through their pigment ink growing pains.  If a user was with Epson through its pigment ink growing pains, they may not want to go through it again with another manufacturer.  So if they want to switch, they may wait for the 2nd or 3rd generation printers to come out when the other companies have improved their technology.

For a long while HP printers didn't play well with third party papers and the paper selection from HP was fairly poor.  For a long while paper manufacturers weren't producing profiles for as many of the Canon and HP printers as they were for Epson. 


First water based pigmented inks (GO) were probably used in Novajet models with thermal heads, end of 80's and certainly before Epson introduced the Archival pigment ink in the 10000/9500/7500. HP used black pigment inks in many of its printers, from office to CAD models, all a long way back. The HP Designjet 5000 had a pigment set (UV) choice that tested excellent at Wilhelm 6 years ago. 5000s are still running everywhere and I have not seen horrible stories about their use in practice. The pains suffered by the users of Epsons and pigment inks are not totally gone yet while HP Z model users may complain about anything from software, drive belts to formatters but not about ink/head issues. You are right that users stick to the brand they are used to but it really has nothing to do with other manufacturers being behind in technology.

On third party papers; I can not judge that for the HP's before the Z models but there are no other printer models that make the use of third party media as easy as the Z models. They became available at the end of 2006. The difference is not just the integrated calibration + profiling but also the creation of custom media presets and the support of HP in documents describing their media presets and how to use third party papers in that context.


met vriendelijke groeten, Ernst

Try: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wide_Inkjet_Printers/
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2011, 09:46:14 AM »
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All the talk of 'print permanence' and 'archival quality' of prints is just that; talk.  

Exactly, Bob. Until it's a hundred years from now, it's all just hearsay.

I do know that my near decade-old Epson inkjet prints are far outlasting my Cibachrome prints displayed under similar conditions.

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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2011, 09:49:14 AM »
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Quote
I do know that my near decade-old Epson inkjet prints are far outlasting my Cibachrome prints displayed under similar conditions.

Hmmmm isn't that what the accelerated testing would suggest? Maybe its not just talk.
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2011, 10:17:24 AM »
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Oh, I'm not suggesting the advances in either printing or testing technology and methodology are bad.  Not at all.  I'm all for having prints that last as long as possible.  I want my buyers to be able to enjoy the prints they purchase for many years.

I tell buyers what ink/paper combination is used in the print.  If any overcoating was applied I tell them what it is and why it's used.  But I don't provide any guarantees as to longevity.  The concept of 'archival' wrt inkjet prints is, in many respects, akin to the equally contrived term 'giclée'.  That too is a word that was made up by the 'art set' to replace inkjet because buyers were skeptical of 'inkjet prints' as an art medium.  

Far too much time is spent in obfuscation and far too little time being honest with and in educating buyers, gallery operators and others.  There is a growing movement to greater honesty about these products but it needs to go futher still.  And quoting Wilhelm or Aardenburg longevity numbers (as I've seen some photographers do) is simply another form of that obfuscation because most buyers won't know what those numbers are or what they mean.  That's not to denigrate the work of those gentlemen at all.  It's a condemnation of the photographers and the 'art set' who continue to toss around these nebulous concepts and words.  

I don't really understand the wringing of hands and knashing of teeth over the numbers comparing this paper to that or this inkset to another.  The numbers are what they are - estimates - and nothing more; despite the advanced testing methodology.  In this very thread there's a blatant disrespect of Wilhem's methodology by one commenter.  So are the numbers really all that reliable?  Is someone going to switch from HP to Epson if, tomorrow, Epson comes out with a new inkset that is tested to last 25% longer than HP?  Not likely.  Just as someone isn't going to switch from Canon to Pentax because the latest Pentax Kx5Ds100m has more dynamic range and then switch back when Canon comes out with a product that bests the Pentax and then.......

Buying a printer based solely on the testing data is, in my view, a bad way to decide on a printer.  All three of the major manufacturers make products that are, now, able to produce very good prints on a wide variety of media; both in colour and black & white.  The fact that we have as much choice as we do is terrific.  The fact that we have organisations like Aardenburg and Wilhelm that are doing this type of testing is great.  But the bottom line should be that we have the capability to produce colour prints that can last much longer than in the past and b&w prints that can last as long and longer.  If a buyer used to buy a Ciba that would last 20 years and can now buy a well made Epson inkjet print that will last 50, does it really matter if Canon's will last 60?  Or HP's 80?

The ability, or not, to reprint is a bit of a red herring.  Reprints could have been made in the days of film as well.  Death doesn't stop reprinting.  There are still people producing prints from the film of dead photographers.  Arguably, with film, the print made by the photographer (or his/her printer) made a greater difference than it does today.  There could be wide variations in a print made by someone other than the original printer with film.  It was the completion of the story to make the print.  Digital?  The greater telling of the story is in the making and editing of the image.  Because nothing can be done in the printing process to change it, the print is almost secondary.  Anyone can click 'Print'.  Proofing is simply a way to get as close a representation in the printed image as onscreen.  It's not photographer dependent.  
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2011, 10:58:29 AM »
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I think it depends somewhat on where one is in the market too. If I were selling 8x10 prints for $50 I wouldn't much worry about their longevity. But I am selling 8x10 prints for $400 and the prints to a degree are investments for the collector. So I do get into educating my clients about print longevity-it is part of the marketing and my pride in craft.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 11:00:02 AM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

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