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The fine art of reproduction
By Peter Kohn
The sheer diversity of services provided by Brisbane fine-art and photography reproduction specialist Art House Reproductions [www.arthousehq.com] is the first aspect of the business that impresses you when speaking to proprietor Mark Lutz.
Art House Reproductions (AHR) is the umbrella name for several 'fronts' of the business, founded in 2001. "When we started, our goal was to focus on art reproduction and offer artists the best service. We learned photographers could benefit from what we did as well."
The company now has several divisions for different aspects of the business. The online shop provides a sales outlet. Another website makes online ordering easy for professional and amateur photographers, in fact, anyone with a digital image that needs a print made. A third website provides media sales to anyone with a printer.
"As the number of artists we dealt with in the early days grew, we developed an online shop for reproductions we produced[www.artreproductions.com.au]. This site now offers giclée reproductions of around 1400 images by approximately 130 artists and it grows daily," says Mark. "Every new artist has the opportunity to list images free of charge, with a small commission charged for each sale, plus the printing cost."
Inkjet Lab [www.inkjetlab.com.au] is the latest website and an addition to AHR that has proven effective in attracting photographers. The site came online in April 2008 and is fast becoming the "go to" site for anyone, professional or amateur, who is looking for canvas or art paper prints of photographic images.
The fourth division to the business is Art House Media [www.arthousemedia.com.au], Queensland agent for Melbourne-based fine-art media supplier, Giclée Media Supplies, offering a wide range of papers, canvases, and other media to businesses and individuals who need inkjet media. It also offers the EternaChrome ink range for Epson printers.
Mark began his career as a photographer in 1976, and took over the family business in 1996 when his parents retired. Around 2000, fellow photographers Len Phillips and Anne Dowd, who ran their own wedding-portrait studio, brought one of the first giclée drum printers into Australia. The two businesses worked together, testing the art market and providing portrait and wedding clients with the new option.
The businesses merged in 2001 and AHR began operating from premises in Newstead, Brisbane. Before long, the art reproduction side took over and "we didn't have time for portraits and weddings anymore". Mark took over the business fully in 2006, moved to a new building in Bowen Hills, and now employs several staff.
One of the most important steps in the reproduction process is the digital capture of the original. Almost since the business began, AHR has used a US-made Kigamo 50-megapixel scanback camera and custom lighting to capture high-resolution digital files from artwork, and has just taken delivery of a German-made 100-megapixel square-format camera. "We can now offer artists an even higher standard of reproduction, never before seen in Australia. We believe that when you combine this with the superb quality provided by our 60in Canon printers, you get the very best giclée art reproductions in the country!"
AHR runs two 60in Canon inkjets sourced through Canon Australia. The printers feature Canon's wide-format 12-colour pigment ink system and printer with Canon's LUCIA inks, developed with a wider colour gamut. The printing is colour-managed for consistent quality.
The size of the digital file is important, as is the quality of lighting used to photograph the work. "Our clients expect their reproductions to match their originals in every way, getting the colours to match requires a fully ICC-profiled system which allows us to print any image on any media and satisfy their critical standards."
Mark's clients, located across Australia, with some in New Zealand and Vanuatu, Dubai and the US, paint in widely different styles. They include David Hart, Gary Myers, Kevin Oxley, Rex Backhause-Smith, Olga Garner and Gordon Hanley, to name a few. Outback landscape artists like Denise Walker from Broome, WA, to Jenny Greentree in Bourke, NSW, "thrive on the reproductions, and their galleries are going from strength to strength".
"Our artist clients are a varied bunch - from the newcomers who simply want one print for themselves of an original they sold, to the professional artists who own their own galleries and use reproductions as a major part of their business sales. We have several artists who survive on reproduction sales alone, not offering their originals for sale, others who don't offer a general range of reproductions but sell complete limited editions to clients who commission originals of corporate subjects or family portraits.
"The vast majority of the prints we make are on canvas, followed by fine-art watercolour papers. My clients are looking for a high-quality product with exceptional archival qualities that they can sell at premium prices."
Mark's news for canvas clients is the latest data supplied by Giclée Media Supplies about their InkjetPro Cotton Poly Canvas coated with Aquathane spray laminate. "For the first time, a media manufacturer has released all the details about longevity testing of their product. Bruce Connelly, from Giclée Media Supplies, has proven the IJP canvas, coated with Aquathane (made in Australia), will last over 102 years when using Epson K3 inks. We're excited about this because we use Canon inks and they are known to last even longer!"
AHR and Inkjet Lab offer printing on over 30 different substrates, from canvas to cotton papers, vinyl and other signage substrates, as well as fabrics. They provide custom stretcher framing, matte and shrink-wrapping, print sales via two online galleries, custom printing for photographers (amateur and professional), including PhotoShop services, website design and hosting, promotion and marketing ideas, and seminars for artists.
"A lifetime of experience in photography, running a wedding-portrait studio, gives you plenty of ideas on how to sell images. We're also able to advise artists on ways of presenting their work."
You only have to talk to Mark about his business to realise he is passionate about helping clients achieve success, whether they are professionals -- or a budding amateurs with one image to print.