About Archival Prints

How Bear Trail long lasting, archival fine-art prints evolved ....

Producing high quality reproductions of my artwork has been an interest of mine since the mid-nineties. I first experimented with publishers using offset lithography, a traditional printing method, but found the colors to be too flat and I felt the final prints were missing the energy projected by the originals. In addition, the time and investment in creating any print was significant.

At about the same time, the field of photography was shifting from film media to a digital format, and we all are familiar with the rest of this story! I have been an avid photographer since I was eighteen years old, developing black and white print images in the darkroom and shooting countless rolls of Kodachrome slide film on outdoor adventures. Like many others, the move to “digital” intrigued me and I soon began experimenting with the early versions of Photoshop and a Macintosh SE computer. A year or so later I read about the Iris printer and printing project funded by Graham Nash, of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock band. Nash loved photography almost as much as music, and put together a team of computer engineers and printing experts to come up with the first prototype of the modern inkjet printer. His company still thrives today as Nash Editions. The story from the beginnings of inkjet until today is a fascinating one that you can read about from links on his site. At some point along the ride, the term “giclee” was picked up as the common term for fine art inkjet printing. It is a French term for “spraying of ink”, but often serves to confuse people and many struggle with how to pronounce the word (gee-clay).

In the late nineties, professional services and photography studios producing giclee prints for artists were springing up in most major cities, and a few smaller towns, even Banner Elk. I worked closely with one of the first in the High Country, Wildflowers Publishing, to help them establish their business. Over the years, I had continued to accrue more advanced Photoshop knowledge and certifications, and soon felt that I had more than enough of a skill base for digital imaging and printing to invest in my own equipment and make the reproductions in my studio. While this was an ambitious undertaking, it allowed me something that was lacking in the other situations, complete control over the image making process and a reduction in cost to the customer. As an aside, many of the high-end giclee print producers that arose in this era are no longer around, as the cost-benefit investment for most artists was found to be just too prohibitive.

I am pleased to say that I have been selling my own Bear Trail Studio Archival Giclee prints for over ten years now, with well over 100 images of my original art work now available as a signed reproduction, and many more slated for production. I have maintained a certification process and have tracked sales since the beginning. I am proud to have my Bear Trail prints hanging in homes all over the U.S, in South America, Australia and the UK!

Technical Information: 

The archival materials and pigmented inks used are disclosed on each print beside our watermark and every reproduction is proofed, and then signed by the artist. A signed Certificate of Authenticity accompanies all Bear Trail giclee prints.

When done well, a resulting reproduction can be difficult to distinguish from the original artwork. An additional advantage is being able to print the image on media very similar to that used for the painting. This results in a print that is highly detailed and rich with color. The very nature of inkjet technology is especially conducive to the reproduction of watercolor originals. I use a number of fine art paper manufacturers, such as Arches, Red River, Hahnemuhle, etc. who make giclee printing paper with the proper receptive coating suited for color stable inkjet printing.

Giclee reproductions are high quality and affordable alternatives to owning an original that may no longer be available. Some of my prints are listed as editions (ex. 200-500 prints only will be made available) and some are listed as Open (unlimited) Editions. The first 15 prints of each new image developed will be listed as Artist Proofs (1-15), regardless of whether Limited or Open editions.

Bear Trail will replace any giclee (to the original owner) at no charge within five years of purchase if accompanied by the Certificate of Authenticity. Giclee prints properly cared for and framed under UV resistant glass have an estimated life (color stability) for approximately 70-80 years.

Please follow the guidelines below to ensure the longest lifespan for your image:

  • Do not hang to face direct sunlight if at all possible.
  • Do not hang in areas of high humidity or extreme temperature fluctuations
  • Do not hang in areas exposed to chemicals or gases
  • Always frame using archival matting and backing materials, and UV glass