Choosing the Right Fine Art Paper for Your Artwork

When it comes to choosing the right inkjet paper for digitally printed reproductions of your artwork, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, some papers naturally work better for certain art forms, and choosing the paper you print on can be as much of an art as it is a science. Here are some tips to pick the paper that will work best for you:

The first determining factor is the type of printer you’re using, since not all printers are compatible with all papers. The preferred print technology for most fine art printers is aqueous, which has the most compatible papers on the market, and newer models, like Epson P-Series and Canon PRO-Series printers, have 10- and 12-ink options for greater color gamuts that are truer to the original art.

Some printers are moving to eco-solvent technology, like Sacramento Giclee, which recently added a Epson SureColor S80600 to its operation. The solvent technology eliminates the need to coat the print, which is helpful for busy, large-volume shops.

Sunset Print Award Grand Prize Winner: Permanent Bond

Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins

The judging panel for the first annual National Sunset Print Award described the First Place Grand Prize winner – Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins – as “flawless,” “masterful” and “fully resolved.” The image depicts the bond her twin sons have had since before they were born.

In fact, there was little debate about the print, other than how perfect each element of the image – from composition to lighting – was absolutely spot-on.

Permanent Bond was one of 29 prints judged at LexJet headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 13. All of the entries in the National Sunset Print Award competition won a Sunset Print Award at state and regional competitions across the U.S. in 2014.

Permanent Bond won the Sunset Print Award at the Professional Photographers of South Carolina (PPSC) competition, and was thus automatically eligible for the national competition.

Sunset Print Award
One of Tammy Bevin’s twins prepares to get into the water tank for the Sunset Print Award-winner, Permanent Bond.

“It took four minutes to photograph something, but it took me four years to come up with the idea,” says Bevins. “For several years I’ve been trying to come up with a concept to show the bond my twins have with each other and what it means to be a twin. It’s one of the most amazing experiences to have twins that look so much alike and have been best friends. Over the years I didn’t come up with something I was inspired to do until I came up with Permanent Bond. I wanted to position them like they were in the womb together, and I used rope to signify the umbilical cord.”

The shoot actually took more than four minutes as Bevins built a water tank in the back yard filled with a few inches of water and dry ice to create the fog effect. What you see is basically what Bevins captured; there was very little Photoshop work done to the image.

Bevins captured the image with a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-70mm lens at 1/200, f/4.6, and 160 ISO. Master printer Jonathan Penney, Center Moriches, N.Y., printed the image on fine art paper.

Sunset Print Awards
The judges at the first annual National Sunset Print Awards evaluate Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Photo by Billy Elkins.

“I used available light and a 2×3 soft box. I had the soft box on pretty low and wanted the light skimming across them and coming up from the top a bit,” explains Bevins.

Bevins runs Nuvo Images in Charleston, S.C., with her daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are award-winning photographers as well. Bevins has nine children – six girls and three boys – ranging in age from 13 to 29. The twins are the third and fourth out of the nine.

“I grew up in West Virginia, and everyone in my family were coal miners. I moved to South Carolina after I got married and was in the medical field. We started having children and I stayed home with the kids, which gave me some time to explore my creative side,” says Bevins. “About 13 years ago I started taking art classes in oil painting at the local museum and I absolutely loved it. My husband suggested I take photography classes, and it really exploded for me and fit my lifestyle. My first year in business was 2004 and I immediately joined PPA and PPSC, and shortly thereafter got interested in print competitions.”

The National Sunset Print Award judging panel - from left to right,  Carmen Schettino, Julie Hughes, Jessica Vogel, Tom Carabasi and Rich Newell - with their choice for First Place, Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Congratulations, Tammy!
The National Sunset Print Award judging panel – from left to right, Carmen Schettino, Julie Hughes, Jessica Vogel, Tom Carabasi and Rich Newell – with their choice for First Place, Permanent Bond by Tammy Bevins. Congratulations, Tammy!

Bevins’ accomplishment at the National Sunset Print Awards is made all the more remarkable by the quality and variety of the images entered in the competition, from fine art photography to portraits and landscapes.

Julia Kelleher of Jewel Images in Bend, Ore., won second place for He Has Arrived. Click here to read the story behind Kelleher’s award-winning print that scored a 100 at the PPA Western District print competition.

Pete Wright won third for his retro image, Temptress, which won a Sunset Print Award at the PPA Southeast District competition. Click here to read the story behind this stunning image.

Congratulations to all the 2014 Sunset Print Award winners who made it to the National competition! Go to to see all the winners from 2014 and earlier years, and the stories behind the photography. While you’re there, look around to find out more about the 2015 competition and which competitions you can enter for a shot at a Sunset Print Award.

And, special thanks to our judges this year, who not only did a thorough and fair job, but gave everyone at LexJet a valuable education in what makes a print stand out at competition. This year’s judges were: Tom Carabasi of Ringling College of Art + Design; Julie Hughes, Abbey of London, Jensen Beach, Fla.; Rich Newell, Professional Photographers of America; Carmen Schettino, Carmen Schettino Photography, Sarasota; Jessica Vogel, Jessica Vogel Photography, Shelbyville, Ky.

Printing Historic Art for the Historic Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown

Otesaga Resort Hotel Decor by Creative Interior Imagery

When you hear (or read) “Cooperstown,” the first thing that comes to mind is the National Baseball Hall of Fame located in this historic New York village.

Printed Decor by Creative Interior ImageryHowever, Cooperstown is steeped in American history far beyond baseball, not the least of which is its most famous son, James Fenimore Cooper, who penned the classic America novel The Last of the Mohicans (the town is actually named after his father).

Given the rich history of the area it was entirely appropriate for the historic Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown to enrich its interior décor with reproductions of fine art housed at the Fenimore Art Museum.

The hotel, which was established in 1909, turned to Creative Interior Imagery to faithfully reproduce the fine art pieces in the guest rooms and bathrooms. Creative Interior Imagery produced a total of more than 800 framed prints ranging from 13″ x 22″ to 20″ x 32″ for the Otesaga Resort Hotel.

Creative Interior Imagery Fine Art ReproductionCreative Interior Imagery is known for its ability to take a project from conception to completion, providing end-to-end capabilities from high-end photography and scanning to printing, finishing and installation, all in a tightly-controlled, color-calibrated system.

In this case, the Fenimore Art Museum scanned the original artwork and provided Creative Interior Imagery with the files, which were printed on Sunset Velvet Rag 315g on the company’s Epson Stylus Pro 11880 and Epson Stylus Pro 9900 wide format inkjet printers.

“They wanted a premium-quality archival paper for the high-end artwork. Based on that, we used the Sunset Velvet Rag: it’s been much more consistent for us than other similar fine-art papers,” says Keith Tomkins of Creative Interior Imagery. “We use it quite a bit for high-end artwork, and we’ve been getting very consistent results with it. People like the look, texture and feel so it’s been a very good product for us.”

Custom and Unique Interior Décor Creation and Printing at Kahler Photo

Lobby Decor Printed on Canvas
Custom lobby art created by Kahler Photo for the Radisson printed on LexJet Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas, stretched on frames and then set in a floater frame.


A photographer by trade, Danny Kahler, owner of Kahler Photo in Minneapolis, has taken those skills and his signature style and applied them to various interior environments, adding printing, framing and installation to the mix.

Printing on Wood Veneer
Kahler printed on maple veneer and applied it Gator Board for a corporate boardroom.

Kahler’s first interior décor project was for a hotel. His sales pitch was to photograph site-specific images that would be used as room art at the hotel. He did the photo shoot in Omaha and the client selected their favorite images, which Kahler then printed for them.

Kahler expanded on that concept, creating and printing public space art, like lobby and conference room artwork for corporate offices, assisted living centers, schools, hospitals and so forth. Since that first big project, Kahler has concentrated on providing only custom décor printing with all the tools necessary to do it right and on time.

“We thrive on custom artwork. I like to give a client, or a designer working with a client, the option to do color abstraction or color replacement images. In this case, you’re basically taking existing colors in the image and replacing them with colors that coordinate with the interior space of a building. Rather than just converting an image to a black-and-white or sepia tone, we’re going beyond that,” explains Kahler.

Printing on Pine Veneer
This was printed on pine veneer, applied to Gator Board and mounted in a floater frame for a local art foundation.

Going beyond that for Kahler means that, in addition to printing on fine art papers, photo papers and canvas, he prints on thin sheets of various materials, like wood veneer and aluminum. For larger substrates, like plywood, acrylic, PVC and Dibond, Kahler contracts the printing to local print shops with flatbed UV-curable printers.

“With our Epson printers we can print on veneer or aluminum, apply contact adhesive on the back and then apply it to another substrate as a backer, like MDF and Gator Board,” says Kahler. “We then select mounting hardware that works well with the existing hardware in the space.  This may be standoff hardware, wire suspension or security hardware.”

Over the years, Kahler Photo has expanded from just printing to providing framing and installation services. Kahler doesn’t do all project installations, such as hotel guest room art, but installs the more unique pieces that require that extra detail.

Pine Veneer Print by Kahler Photo“Adding framing services opened up a lot of doors, because we became more of a one-stop shop; they didn’t have to hire us to do photography and printing and someone else do mounting and framing,” says Kahler.  “No project leaves the studio until we’re happy with it, even if it means that we have to re-do part of it. You put in extra hours if needed to get it right so that the client says it’s more than what they imagined; that’s what it’s all about.”

For the more typical décor printing, Kahler uses LexJet Sunset Reserve Bright Matte Canvas, LexJet Sunset Photo Semi-Matte, LexJet Premium Matte Paper and LexJet 8 Mil Production Satin Photo Paper.

“We started using LexJet papers about a year ago. I talked to Rob [Finkel, Kahler’s LexJet customer specialist] last week about incorporating LexJet fabrics into our production for particular projects,” says Kahler. “We’ve been very happy with the canvas and paper. LexJet products have helped us save money and opened up a wider selection of media, especially for hotel projects.”

Though Kahler has the production system down, he says the photography is the foundation of the business. Most of the décor work Kahler does is renditions of his or other photographers’ work that draw from the architecture and areas surrounding the space being decorated.

Maple Veneer Print by Kahler Photo“I like to explore more deeply into a theme, rather than just capturing an overall shot of a landscape. There are some beautiful landscapes out there, but I like to look deeper at what’s happening under my feet; the small things that people tend to walk by: real interesting elements of nature or architecture in a particular setting,” explains Kahler. “The abstract subject matter is what I like to capture most. Still, it’s important to get many other perspectives. This is why we use many contributing photographers.  Some clients don’t like the abstract nature of a scene and some like the overall scene, so we want to be able to give them the option of a variety of styles.”

A Decorative Art Original: Soicher Marin

Soicher Marin, based in Sarasota, Fla., is the classic American success story. Ed Marin, who is the second-generation owner of Soicher Marin, has maintained the original vision, aesthetic and point of view of the company when it was conceived in the Los Angeles area in 1959 by Harry Soicher.

Inkjet printing decorative artworkEd’s father joined Soicher in 1960, coming to America from Argentina with $125 in his pocket he had borrowed to make his way in the land of opportunity.

Marin was a framer by trade, and the pair took their individual talents into the decorative art market, serving the interior design, home furnishings and home fashion trades. By 1972 Soicher Marin was national with showrooms in every major market. Harry Soicher passed away in 1974 and Ed Marin eventually took over operations in the early ‘90s.

“At that time a lot of us were showing up at trade shows with the same types of products, because the universe of printed art was supplied by a handful of people out of New York and London,” says Ed Marin. “My dad was buying antiques and other artwork that was in the public domain, or he would find an artist he wanted to publish, and we would go to offset printing and do limited runs. It was great because it gave us our own identity and point of view, and we were able to do things exclusive to us. The problem was that you had to be right all the time; if you made a mistake you were sitting on a lot of wasted paper, so we were very cautious about the images we put out and how we put them out.”

Art reproductions for home furnishing and decorWhen inkjet printing became a viable method of art reproduction, Soicher Marin outsourced it at first, but when it became more affordable to purchase the equipment it was brought in-house with an Epson printer and an Onyx RIP.

“We were 100 percent exclusive with our art within a year; we didn’t have anything we were buying from anyone else. We were and are very much a content-driven company and it’s been allowed to happen because of this breakthrough in technology,” says Marin.

All of Soicher Marin’s artwork is produced in-house. Marin acts as the “chief art director,” as he puts it, to ensure that a consistent look is achieved. The Soicher Marin “look” is drawn from both natural history and contemporary art. Either way, it has what Marin calls “a historical perspective” unique to Soicher Marin, which you can see in the accompanying photos.

“If we have a point of view in the industry it’s driven by the aesthetic I want to put out in the market. I have catalogs from our company that date back to the mid-‘60s and ‘70s. Obviously, the artwork and colors are different, but the aesthetic and point of view is not. There’s a common thread that runs through the product line. It’s not a conscious effort; it’s just how we think and the people who come to work here and have become involved in our design process come to see it that way as well.”

The Soicher Marin aesthetic is not forced; rather, it’s a natural extension of a corporate culture that encourages creativity, independence, leadership and customer service. Moreover, the emphasis is on the art, not the technology used to create or reproduce it.

Producing decorative artwork in-house“We don’t over-embellish, over-layer or over-digitize the artwork. We let great art speak for itself. Our biggest responsibility is to reproduce it with the highest fidelity. And the same goes for our framing; we’re very careful about the materials we pick and how we treat the art. We have a less-is-more approach to our design,” says Marin. “Although we have densitometers and other devices that help us reach the optimal, our employees have it down to an art – it’s less science and more art.”

The young artists who work at Soicher Marin are intimately involved in the design process. Marin says they’re given a lot of leeway to “go off the reservation,” and it’s encouraged. By immersing them both in the Soicher Marin aesthetic and independent creativity, the Soicher Marin brand is enhanced.

“There’s another component that’s less obvious and it’s that there’s a certain rightness to our design and point of view. In the biography of Steve Jobs I found that there was a lot of discussion about his obsession with design. There’s a design thread that runs through Apple’s products, and you can see that someone put a lot of thought into each product. There’s a certain organic nature to it,” explains Marin. “We can’t say why it is exactly that the iPhone and all the other products are so pleasing to the eye, but they just are. We look at it the same way. We obsess over small details that change something very slightly, then people stand back and say it looks right, whether it’s scale or color, and that’s the part of organic design that people have a hard time describing, but they know it when they see it. It’s something I think we accomplish here as a team.”

Designing decorative artwork for residential and commercial applications
Soicher Marin designer Thom Filicia (left) and Ed Marin.

This is an integral part of the culture, but most important are the elements of customer service and leadership. For Soicher Marin, customer service begins within the company itself. If that element is lacking, serving the end-use customer will surely lag.

Therefore, great emphasis is placed on interpersonal and interdepartmental customer service. The art department is the digital department’s customer, for instance, so the digital department must please its internal customer first. “That’s the service culture we want,” says Marin.

To foster leadership, Marin explains, “Everyone is a leader and has a responsibility to someone else. My responsibility is to mentor them, teach them, give them my time, listen to their concerns, bring them into the general conversation of the company and work on their leadership skills. Then, their job is to do the same thing with everyone under them. Even if they leave our company, we may hate to lose them, but if they lead somewhere else because of something we taught them, we look at it as a service to the community.”

Like Soicher Marin’s design aesthetic, it’s the little things that make the difference in customer service. In other words, it goes far beyond providing a great product on time. It means answering the phone, showing courtesy and giving customers all the time they need.

Framing decorative art
Ed Marin, second-generation owner of Soicher Marin, Sarasota, Fla.

“Our customer service people have the best job because they get to talk to the customer, even when that means fielding a complaint, since a complaint is often an opportunity to not only make it right, but to solidify that relationship. My dad used to say that it costs so little to keep a customer; it’s much more costly to find them than it is to keep them,” says Marin.

Marin adds that the recession has made things difficult for the entire decorative art market. Soicher Marin made because of a brand that’s more than 50 years old. “The power of the brand is almost infinite when times are tough,” says Marin.

The Soicher Marin brand is strong because the company takes a collaborative approach to branding. Soicher Marin chooses partners wisely; partners that have the same dedication to quality and detail. For instance, Soicher Marin designs artwork for Lillian August’s furniture collection for furniture maker Hickory White.

“Lillian August has a beautiful furniture collection with Hickory White and she will collaborate with us on the design of all the pictures that are supposed to go with her furniture, so it’s a de facto collaboration with an important brand like Hickory White. Our customers know that the licensing relationships we have are really strong and collaborative, which makes our company still relevant after all these years.”

For its art reproduction, Soicher Marin’s choice of giclee materials is purely subjective and vary from LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper to LexJet Sunset Fibre Matte and Sunset Hot Press Rag, as well as canvas reproductions with LexJet Sunset Select Gloss Canvas and Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Soicher Marin releases four sets of collections per year. Its two “major” seasons are spring and fall, and its two “minor” seasons are summer and winter.

“The type of art we bring to the table will determine the medium we put it on. If it’s photography, for instance, it could end up on an eSatin, a fibre-based or rag paper, based on what the image is,” says Marin.

Again, it’s the seemingly minor and subtle choices that make Soicher Marin so unique and successful in its offering. As Marin puts it, “We don’t just sell prints.”

For more information about Soicher Marin and its collections, go to