ARTtrust: A Hi-Tech Solution That Can Protect Fine Art and Photographic Prints

Artists and photographers have always had concerns about unauthorized, or even fraudulent use of their work. And digital technology has improved enough that it is not a big problem to make a very high quality printed copy of an original piece.

We can all breathe a bit easier. HP, in collaboration with ProofTag, have developed a high-tech, effective solution to these issues, called ARTtrust. (ProofTag is a French company that has already helped many protect their luxury goods and valuable documents against fraud and counterfeiting.)

The ARTtrust solution includes high-tech, unique identification tags, a highly secure online registration system, and verification via a secure Internet connection.

Other companies that support and promote ARTtrust include Canson INFINITY, Hahnemühle FineArt, ILFORD Imaging and Innova Art.

I have been using the ARTtrust system in beta testing. In my view it is likely to become the security standard of practice in the global art community.

The ARTtrust solution provides:

• Unique print identity

• Traceability

• Proof of authenticity

• Certified information about the pigment print’s longevity

• Confidentiality in all transactions

Details

The ARTtrust solution is made up of a number of resources and components. The core component is the ARTtrust Bubble Tag™, which looks like a label, but is much more.

The ARTtrust Bubble Tag™ contains a translucent polymer film – a set of air bubbles are embedded in the film in a random pattern. They form a unique pattern that cannot be duplicated, according to the company. (see image)

There are three tags in each Bubble Tag set. One for the art work, one for the certificate of authenticity (COA), and a third for the reference or file copy of the print. Once a print is ready for sale, the photographer, artist, or printmaker tags the print, the Certificate of Authenticity (COA), and the file/reference print.

A set of ARTtrust BubbleTags(tm)

Once the tag is affixed to the art work, it cannot be removed without altering the appearance of its metallic film layer. The tag may be applied wherever needed – on the back, the side of a mounted canvas piece, etc.

Attaching a BubbleTag(tm)

Next, the user goes to the ARTtrust web site, and enters the tag number into the secure system. Additional information is also entered, including which HP printer was used, the paper used, and an image of the art work. Here’s an example of the first screen of mine on the ARTtrust web site:

ARTtrust Page for David Saffir

Secure records are available online, making it fast and easy to verify the source and authenticity of a print. The site also provides information about the predicted longevity of the print.

Note that the unique bubble pattern on the tag is connected in the ARTtrust records to the ID number on the tag. One can easily compare the bubble pattern in the tag affixed to the artwork, to the bubble pattern image in the secure online record.

Here’s an example:

Now the artist or photographer, reseller, printmaker, buyer, and collector can have more confidence in the value of the item. One can verify:

• The name of the artist or photographer, and the origin of the item

• See an online image of the artwork, print, or photograph

• Verify the ARTtrust Bubble Tag™ ID number

• Compare the bubble pattern in the tag on the artwork to the bubble tag pattern image shown on the ARTtrust web site.

This last step is quite straightforward, and can be accomplished without using a magnifier, electronic reader, or similar tool. Quite simple, actually.

The ARTtrust site also provides for printing a Certificate of Authenticity (COA), which includes relevant details about the print, its edition status, etc.

The ARTtrust Certificate of Authenticity

Summary and Wrap-Up (quoting in part from the press release) :

For photographers and artists:

• Easy to register, purchase, and use

• Full control over individually identified pigment prints ensures authenticity

• Long term artwork traceability while guaranteeing confidentiality of transactions

• Promotion on ARTtrustonline website

For external service providers and professional labs:

• Higher perceived value for Pigment Prints

• Incremental demand for large format prints from HP designjet Z series printers

• Promotion on arttrustonline website

For artwork owners, galleries and auction houses:

• Artwork proof of authenticity

• Artwork best available longevity ratings (for HP Professional Photo Printers)

The ARTtrust system has already been adopted by world-famous photographers and artists, including Joel Meyerowitz, Thomas Hoepker, Martin Parr, Douglas Kirkland, and Digital Atelier artists Dorothy Krause, Bonny Lhotka, and Karin Schminke.

ARTtrust is endorsed by Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR), the world’s leading authority for photography and digital printing permanence testing and preservation. At present, ARTtrust provides an individual identity to any Digital Fine Art Collection Pigment Print produced on an HP Professional Photo Printer using HP Vivera pigment inks on any compatible media. WIR site: http://www.wilhelm-research.com

Photographers and artists will be able to purchase the ARTtrust solution directly through ARTtrust Online or from printmakers, print-service providers, galleries, or resellers of HP professional photo printers and compatible media. This solution gives photographers and artists a method of individually identifying any Pigment Print produced on an HP designjet Z Photo Printer Series using HP Vivera Pigment inks on compatible media.

Individual artists and photographers who want to create a personal space on the ARTtrust website can do so for a modest fee. The kit includes the items mentioned above, plus a unique ID card for the buyer, which has its own BubbleTag Id as well.

For more information, go to: http://www.arttrustonline.com

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7 thoughts on “ARTtrust: A Hi-Tech Solution That Can Protect Fine Art and Photographic Prints

  1. Hi David,

    Great article. One thing that is missing from your article and also from their website is any mention of the cost. I can understand you leaving it out but for the life of me I could not find anywhere on their site the cost and I find this worrying.

    I assume they will extend this to other printers eventually, such as Epson, as I see it hard how they can ignore so many users.

    Cheers,

    Wayne

    • HI Wayne,

      I’m not yet sure about the cost. I feel they understand the issues related to other products, such as the Hahenemuhle holo stickers. I’m sure it will be reasonable.

      Best regards,

      David

  2. The thing is a lot of us use multiple brands of printers, either in house or through service bureaus. So they have to cover these other brands otherwise there is a major issue for artists and photographers who do this.

    Personally I always think the price should be up front on a website like that.

  3. I think this is one more way HP is showing itself in touch with key needs of photographers and artists. From what I’ve heard from owners, HP’s Z series of printers can even be used to create custom profiles for other manufacturers’ printers.

    I’m an Epson owner but dislike Epson’s not being able to print accurately on non-Epson paper and the slow printing, unlike what I’ve read about HP and Canon printers. HP’s previous generation included an innovative artist software solution and now these ArtTrust labels. That’s quite impressive thinking on HP’s part for fine artists and photographers.

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