It has come to my attention that people are being charged a lot of money to enlarge and adjust iPhone images for larger prints. As someone who has always looked out for the iphone art community, I want to share a bit of what I’ve learned over the past five years about what all artists should know to get the best value and quality for their beautiful artwork.
As most people know, we at Pixels were the first ever to print and display iphonic art images in a juried gallery show. The first call for submissions was five years ago in early December of 2009. Hard to believe! The first show was 200 images on 10″x10″ sheets, with an average image area of 6″x4″ in either portrait or landscape. We used Strathmore Bright White Watercolor Board: it was textured and worked beautifully.
We had access to a large 8-color Epson printer and almost immediately began experimenting with larger prints, so by the next show in May of 2010, we were printing on 13″x19″ sheets of archival paper with an image area of 10″x14″ or thereabouts. Since most pictures were from Apple 2 phones, we had to up-rez them. We learned how to do it with Photoshop very well. Needless to say, since we didn’t allow computer editing of images on the P1xels site, some people protested we were being hypocritical (as you can see in the comments in this reprinted article from that time).
The fact is that using a computer to prep an image for printing is necessary to translate the image from one format to another, from screen to print, and thus not a contradiction.
We then were contacted by the Kahbang Festival in Maine who wanted to display the show along with some larger prints and Apple had asked us to do some events around the country, so the pressure was on. This was late summer of 2010.
At this point we had to do more research and find some vendors, since we only could print up to 17″x22″ sheets on Maia’s Epson printer, with which we were doing a lot of experimenting with different archival papers, coated, uncoated, and textured.
The next big show we did in Orange County (April 2011) had one hundred and forty plus images, many of them enlarged to 24″x40″. I oversaw and did all of the up-rezzing as I have for all the P1xels shows from the beginning (save our second show where Marty Yawnick donated time and materials) at no charge to the artists, ever.
We have done more than ten juried shows in galleries around the country and Europe for a combined exposure of the art stretching to almost a full year of hanging time on gallery walls. This far exceeds all other combined gallery time, i.e., other sites or contests, in terms of display of iPhonic art.
I could go on, but I just wanted to share my bonafides first, so that there is no doubt as to my expertise in the printing of iPhone images as we get to the heart of the matter.
I’m going to share much of what I’ve learned here, in no particular order. I gave very much thought to becoming a service bureau handling printing for the iPhone community during the first couple years of P1xels, but came to realize that there are plenty of very competent service bureaus out there who could do stellar work for us at a reasonable cost.
So, here we go, Knox’s primer for printing your iPhone work.
- Obviously, the earlier the phone, the more the need for up-rezzing.
- Some images can only go so big, no matter what you do.
- If you want to have razor-sharp huge enlargements, start shooting with a real camera. There will always be a softer painterly quality to big enlargements of iPhone photos. I love this aspect of the work.
- Different apps affect images in different ways (duh!) which in turn affect how easily they can be enlarged and printed.
- Here is the link to the tutorial I use as the basis for 90% of the enlargements I have done: http://www.photoshopsupport.com/tutorials/cb/enlarge.html. Obviously, there are times a little extra tweaking is necessary and these are learned through experience. Sometimes I boost saturation and contrast slightly. But this covers most of what you would need for most prints
- There are commercial applications for resizing, like PhotoZoom Pro and Perfect Resize but they cost $$. My experience with them is limited (I found Perfect Resize very easy to overdo) and and I think it’s better to just pay a little extra to a service bureau (see No. 7), if needed.
- There are plenty of excellent commercial photo printers and service bureaus out there. A lot of them have proprietary software that does an amazing job of enlarging images for printing. They also offer color correction for nominal fees. They welcome our business.
- Having watched hundreds and hundreds of people respond viscerally to our work on the walls over the years, I can attest to the fact that it’s worth the effort and expense to print your work & enjoy it in the real world. But be smart and don’t pay for stuff you don’t have to!
So that’s it.
When I launched iPhotographer Magazine last year, we had two features that were to be in every issue. One was an article on fine art printing of iphonic work and one was an advertorial feature from vendors we have worked with who do amazing iPhone archival museum/fine art prints and want our (your) business. When we relaunch the magazine, we will continue with these series.
In the meantime, if you need help or have questions about printing your own work, please do not hesitate to write me. Or call me. I’m happy to discuss your needs and share my knowledge and vendor information, etc., to help you get your work printed, free of charge (of course!). Free advice, not the printing. Duh again. :)