Selected Hints and Tips – Fine Art Printmaking for Print Competition
Sounds obvious, but only use your very best images. Test some of your better prints with friends and colleagues.
When you do this, watch for reactions. Which images create that “wow” response? tell a story effectively? show a subject in a new or unique way?
Composition – keep the “rule of thirds” in mind, and create a print that really provides focus on the main subject. Unneeded objects in foreground/background can ruin your score, as can distracting bright areas or intrusive shadows.
Generally, prints made on luster, pearl, or glossy paper show better in a competition environment. Fine art and “watercolor” papers tend to wash out under the bright lights used by judges.
Make sure that your colors, highlights, shadows, textures, and the like are presented as you want them to be. In general, you’ll want to see at least some detail in highlights and shadows, colors should be smooth, realistic, and show detail where appropriate, etc. Make sure uniform colors, such as skies, are free of digital artifacts like banding.
Make your prints a little darker overall than usual – again, we’re working with very bright lights.
Think about presentation – prints should be mounted on firm, flat stock, no irregularities, bumps, ripples, orange peel, and the like. Watch for color or saturation changes after mounting; although this rarely happens, mounting at high temps can ruin a great print.
If you use an outside printmaker, provide a digital file that is edited and ready to print. Use Adobe 98 RGB or ProPhoto RGB color if printing on inkjet, and usually sRGB if you are using an outside lab (ask them). Take care with your pixel dimensions – a 16z20 print can be 4800 x 6000 pixels at 300ppi. Ask your printmaker about image preparation.