Making Fine Art Prints: Preparing

Making Fine Art Prints

With fine art prints, preparation is probably the most important step in the process. So many things are dependent on other things, it's imperative that you have a clear path defined. The end product is your goal, but the process is the path you must take. If that path is ill-defined, your final product will be something less than fine art.

In this article, we'll simply talk about the preparation that must take place before producing your final work. Taking the photo is only the seed. Producing a high quality print for display is the fruit of your efforts. Read on, and keep these things in mind as we explore the rest of this discussion.


photo credit: ViaMoi

Often times, you'll be making a print for a specific customer or event. Maybe it's a private buyer, or maybe it's for an exhibition or show. Whatever the case, you'll likely have a set of requirements to fulfill. These requirements, or boundaries, should be the foundation of your print making. If you don't meet the basic requirements, the print is practically worthless to the final recipient.

These requirements may include things like size, paper, mounting, matting, etc. If you start your planning around these boundaries, you'll find that you often have some degree of freedom in the other aspects of the print.


If you're new to making fine art prints, this will make more sense to you at the end of the series. But the main takeaway from this tip is to have a perfect vision of what your final print will look like. This includes paper selection, print size, signing, borders, matting, mounting, framing, shipping, and hanging. The final display should appear exactly as you envisioned — no exceptions.


photo credit: striatic

For the aspects of the print that you have creative freedom, you'll need to think about the reasons behind your decisions. You may have complete freedom, or you may have strict boundaries — but chances are, you'll be somewhere in the middle.

If you do have some freedom, you'll need to keep in mind things like print size vs. display size, how you'll sign it and how that affects the print size and matting, whether or not you'll be providing a matted and mounted print, and how you'll get that print to the final destination. At the end of the day, you want to produce a quality product to the exact specifications you first envisioned. Having a well defined plan of attack will make things move much more smoothly.

As with many things, the old saying holds true: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”


This is mainly a lead-in to the next topic in the series, but it bleeds into this topic too. When working with digital photos, you'll need to spend extra time getting them ready for print — even if you've already processed the image. Printing can really bring out the beauty of a photo, but it can bring out the ugly little things too. Dust spots, noise, poor sharpening, etc. All of these things can look fine on your monitor, but a print will reveal them instantly.

We'll get into this stuff in the next article. If you have any specific questions about printing, be sure to ask here! And if you have any tips for preparing, also chime in!!!