Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Large-Format Printing and the Fine Arts

The “originality” of a fine art large-format print is of prime concern to artists, and sometimes even more so to art distributors such as galleries, and art fair and art festival sponsors. The value of a work of art depends on its originality and limited nature, but in this era of computers, scanners, and inkjet printers it is relatively easy to digitize an original and create an unlimited number of copies.

What Constitutes an Original Print?

On its website, the International Fine Print Dealers Association defines an original fine art print as:

“a work of graphic art which has been conceived by the artist to be realized as an original work of art, rather than a copy of a work in another medium. Prints are produced by drawing or carving an image onto a hard surface (known as the matrix) such as a wood block, metal plate, or stone. This surface is then inked and the image is then transferred to paper by the application of pressure, thus creating an impression, or print.”

The description goes on to discuss the concept of the “edition”: multiple impressions, each created from the inked plate, which are then signed and numbered prior to the destruction of the plate (to make further copies of the original matrix impossible).

Therefore, the value of a fine art print comes from the following characteristics (beyond the aesthetic qualities of the piece):

  1. Its limited nature
  2. The artist’s direct involvement in the process (quality control), as certified by a signature and number

The Problem with Duplicates

A photo can be made of an original and with considerable skill an offset commercial printer can produce hundreds or thousands of copies, even augmenting the process colors with touch plates of a fifth or sixth match ink. Or a custom screen printing vendor can make a master copy and produce multiple reproductions, or a large-format printing shop can digitize either the original art or a photo thereof, and produce an unlimited number of beautiful copies via inkjet technology.

All of these reproductions would most likely be of little artistic value since they would not be original prints, they would not have the artist’s direct involvement in the reproduction process, and they would not be of a “limited nature.”

Yet, to complicate matters, without a commercial printer’s loupe (high-powered magnifier), most people could not see either the halftone dot rosette patterns of the offset lithographic print or the random miniature spots of the inkjet print’s dithering process (FM screening). So a reproduction might be mistaken for an actual print pulled from a printing plate (unless the observer could distinguish the flat, even colors of the original prints from the dot patterns of the reproductions).

When hundreds or thousands of dollars change hands for original artists’ prints, reproductions quickly become a problem. However, in the current economic climate most people cannot afford original art. For artists to stay solvent, many are starting to sell reproductions on a lower-tiered price structure. You may notice these reproductions in bins at art fairs. To maintain the distinction between the original art and the reproductions, those who sponsor the art fairs, or who maintain the galleries, are quite stringent about keeping them separate. Some will not even allow the reproductions in the art fair booths. Others require them to be sold in bins only (not hung on the gallery or art fair booth walls), labeled as reproductions, signed and numbered within a limited edition, and marked with a description of the offset lithography or digital inkjet custom printing process.

The problem has been magnified as the quality of digital inkjet custom printing has improved, as archival inks have been brought into use, and as substrates such as watercolor paper and canvas have replaced the more fragile prior generation of inkjet custom printing materials, thus providing a much longer life to the reproductions. The term “giclee” has even been coined to describe inkjet custom printing using archival materials and techniques to produce reproductions of fine art under the strict supervision of the artist himself or herself.

What About Altered Art?

The processes of offset lithography and digital inkjet can be used to create a direct replica of an original, or they can be used in the creation, enhancement, or alteration of original art. Many artists will scan an original into their computer and either augment the digital file in Photoshop or print out an inkjet copy and then paint on it or alter it in some other way. At this point, it can be argued that the output itself has become a new original.

This is not a cut-and-dried process. There are fine nuances. But, understandably, the artists want their art to be affordable as well as beautiful, and the art dealers want to preserve their reputation for distinguishing between original art and reproductions and pricing each accordingly.

2 Responses to “Large-Format Printing and the Fine Arts”

  1. So much vital information. The site is wonderful, the articles excellent. Cheers.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved