Qoro Fine Art Services Offers a Unique Guarantee

When the founder of Qoro Fine Art Services in New Castle, Delaware named his new business, he combined the letter “Q” for quality with the Spanish word for gold. But according to one satisfied client, the name Qoro could also be an acronym for “Quality of Reproduction-Outstanding!”  And while Qoro does have the equipment and skill  to make great reproductions of original oil paintings and other art, the firm offers much more than gold-quality printmaking.

Having been in the business for more than 10 years, they have interacted with galleries, museum curators, art publishers, and art schools and gained insights that can help artists with every facet of their careers. They freely share some of these insights online and through consultations with each artist they work with.

Advised Pigment Ink Developers:  One distinctive chapter of Qoro’s history is that staff members provided insights to some of the chemists and researchers who were developing some of the pigment ink technology that has enabled inkjet printing to gain widespread acceptance in fine-art publishing.

Qoro’s founder Bill Jensen was a frame-shop owner, whose friends included chemists who were working with inkjet printer manufacturers on pigment inksets that would provide both the wide color gamuts and long print life that art publishers, galleries, and collectors would expect.

So Jensen started Qoro as a printing business in the late 1990s and began exploring how inkjet printing could be used to reproduce paintings and fulfill orders for art sold online.

Although Jensen has since retired, Davis and Griffith have both been with Qoro since 2000. They recall talking at length with ink chemists and color scientists about how inkjet-printing technology could be improved to meet the expectations of potential producers and buyers of art prints. During these consulting sessions, Davis and Griffith gained extensive firsthand knowledge about some of the chemistry and color science behind print permanence and image quality.

Today, Griffith and Davis are so confident in the quality of the inks, substrates, and protective coatings that they use in printmaking, that they offer Qoro customers a full replacement guarantee. Because they know that most artists don’t really want to delve into the complexities of ink and coating chemistry and print-permanence testing, Griffith and Davis decided to make Qoro’s guarantee as simple and as straightforward as possible.

As stated on their website: “If you damage a Qoro Replica™ we will replace it at no charge. Simply return the damaged product to Qoro and we will send you a new one.”  The word “damage” in their replacement guarantee doesn’t just apply to fading or water damage. It includes damage of any kind.

According to Griffith, the purpose of this guarantee is to make buyers comfortable enough to hang their art anywhere they want with the confidence that it will always remain as beautiful as it was the day they purchased it. Because most artists and art buyers traditionally handle artwork with great care, Qoro has only had to replace a few prints. For example, they replaced one Qoro Replica that had been displayed outdoors for five years on the deck of yacht, where it was routinely exposed to bright sunlight and salty, humid air.  And, they have replaced a few prints that were damaged during stretching or accidentally gashed by an artist preparing for a show.

Qoro’s production manager Frank Davis is an artist himself. Clients are impressed to see how accurately his reproductions match his original paintings, such as this one entitled “Cursed Cauliflower.”

Personalized Marketing Advice: Davis and Griffith have worked with enough artists to understand that no two artists are alike, and each has different goals, aspirations, and levels of knowledge and experience. Qoro gladly provides personalized, high-quality of printmaking services to all artists—whether they are just starting out after graduation, pursuing an art career after retiring from another job, or are already selling originals for thousands of dollars each.

“I care about every piece of art that comes through our doors,” says Davis, who is an artist himself.

Qoro has made prints for hundreds of artists, including masters such as N.C. Wyeth. They also help institutions such as the Delaware Art Museum and Delaware Historical Society supplement their revenues by offering reproductions of selected works of painters such as Edward Hopper and illustrator Howard Pyle.  Qoro has also reproduced paintings so that each heir of an estate can have a high-quality replica of a treasured family heirloom art.

High-Quality Equipment and Materials: For image capture, Davis uses a PhaseOne large-format camera. It has enough resolution to give printed reproductions the illusion of a three-dimensional surface. For printing, he currently uses a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF 8100 printer with Onyx software.

Many of the canvases and art papers Qoro uses come from LexJet. “LexJet has been a godsend for us,” says Davis. “As a company they have the same idea that we have—that the customer comes first. When I call my salesperson Dustin Flowers, he treats me as if I’m the biggest account out there.

Along with the Sunset Select Matte Canvas, Davis uses either Sunset Gloss or Matte coatings, depending on which look a client prefers.

What to Look for When Hiring a Printmaker: Thanks to the advances in pigment-ink technology that Davis and Griffith saw being developed, almost anyone can afford to buy a wide-format inkjet printer and promote themselves as being capable of being in the “fine-art reproduction business.”

Davis  says artists should spend more time investigating how the services and capabilities of one printmaker differ from others.  According to Davis, artists should pay attention to these three things:

  1. the quality of the equipment used in the image capture;
  2. what services are included in the price and which services cost extra; and
  3. any clauses in the contract that may grant the printmaker permission to use your art in ways you didn’t intend.

Davis advises artists to “Learn as much as you can before you commit and always protect your work by reading the fine print in a contract.”

To learn more about Qoro, you can follow them on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, or read Frank Davis’ blog (“Frank Discussions”). You can also visit their online gallery, through which they sell prints and originals from clients, artists and museums directly to interested customers. (www.qoro.com and www.qoroart.com)

Through Qoro’s online art shop (www.qoroart.com), customers can purchase reproductions of works by individual artists or art included the archives of the Delaware Art Museum and Delaware Historical Society. This painting,“The Pirate” by N.C. Wyeth, is available in three different sizes of limited-edition canvas prints or as an open edition of 24 x 12-in. prints on art paper.

Using a Foam Roller to Apply Sunset Coatings to Inkjet Prints on Canvas

A previous post on this blog talked about Clearcoating Inkjet Photo and Art Prints and LexJet’s Sunset Gloss and Sunset Satin Coatings.  It was noted that LexJet Sunset Coatings can be applied with either a spray gun or foam roller. Below are a few tips for using a foam roller to apply a smooth, even coating. 

Photo: BWO Print Studio and Photo Lab, Oklahoma City

Note that the effectiveness of these techniques may vary depending on the humidity and temperature of your working environment.  It may take a little practice and experimentation to find the touch and technique that works best for your studio.

1. Start with a high-density, white foam roller and a tray that is typically used for holding paints. You can buy these products in the paint department of any home-improvement store. The high-density foam will help reduce bubbles.  Use a larger-width roller if you plan to coat larger canvases. 

2. Pour the coating into the tray and dip the roller in the coating until it is thoroughly wet, but not too wet.

3. Lay your print on a clean, dust-free board that is bigger than your print.  The extra space on the surface around the print can be used to roll off excess liquid if you happen to oversaturate the roller.

4. Consider using two or three thinner coats, instead of one thicker coat.

5. Don’t try to coat the whole print at once. Start with one or two passes at the edge of the print, and go over each pass enough times for the bubbles to dissipate, but not so many times that the coating becomes tacky or bumpy.

6. If large bubbles appear, try blowing on the coating.

7. Make overlapping passes so you can maintain a wet edge and avoid lines and streaks.

8. Find the rolling pattern that works best for you.  Some users prefer rolling in one direction only.  They go up the print in one pass, and down the print in the second pass (like mowing a lawn).  Others will apply enough coating at once to roll it out in a few different directions until the excess rolls of the side. They then roll smooth passes, alternating horizontal and vertical passes.  While the coating is still wet, they use the side of the roller or a brush to smooth the coating on the edges of the stretched canvas print.

9. Don’t press down on the roller. Maintain a light, even pressure.

10. If you are applying a second coat, allow the first coat to dry before applying the second coat. A thin coat should take about five minutes to dry. But it will take longer if you’re working in an environment with high humidity.

11. Allow the coated print to dry thoroughly before you pack it for shipping. Don’t try to speed up the drying process with a fan; allow the print to dry on its own.

12. Clean the rollers immediately after each use. Run cool water of the rollers immediately after use, and squeeze them until they run clear. Allow 10 to 15 minutes.  If you keep the rollers clean, you can use them for about six months before you need to replace them.

If you have any questions about how to apply Sunset Coatings, please contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.

Brilliant Studio Continues the Tradition of Collaborative Printmaking

By Dustin Flowers

Brilliant Studio is located in a warm and welcoming facility in the countryside about 30 miles from Philadelphia.

The newest issue of LexJet’s In Focus newsletter shines the Artist Spotlight on one of my customers, photographer and master printer Bob Tursack of Brilliant Studio and Brilliant Graphics in Exton, PA (near Philadelphia). 

Brilliant Studio provides top-quality printmaking in the broadest sense of the word. While Bob can reproduce art with the utmost fidelity, he believes he does his best work for artists and photographers who trust him as a collaborator. He regards printmaking as an art in itself—an extension of what can be achieved with cameras, paintbrushes, or drawing tools alone. Thus, he feels comfortable recommending ways clients can achieve the highest artistic realization of the image they had visualized from the start.

Brilliant Studio works with many galleries, publishers, artists, and photographers and has printed reproductions for painters such as the late Andrew Wyeth and photographs by Michael Furman, George Tice, and Yaakov Asher Sinclair.

At first, Brilliant Studio outsourced the printing of artists’ books and gallery catalogs. But because Bob grew up in a family that ran a commercial printing business, he decided to establish Brilliant Graphics as a companion business. He bought a Heidelberg press, developed a computer-integrated printing workflow, and now prints brochures, annual reports, corporate marketing materials, catalogs, posters, and perfect-bound and casebound books.

Brilliant Graphics provides these printing services not only to galleries, artists and photographers, but to other businesses as well. They are particularly skilled in printing publications that require superb image reproduction. For example, Brilliant Graphics produced catalogs for Swann Galleries, the New York auction house that sells works from the earliest days of photography to images by modern masters.

Outstanding Facilities: Earlier this month, I was honored to be invited to the Open House Brilliant Studio hosted for current and prospective clients. Their studio was unbelievably clean and well-equipped. Not only were their customer reception and proofing areas immaculate, but so were their camera rooms, printrooms, and computer rooms.

Brilliant Studio is equipped to produce giclee prints, exhibition prints, intaglio copperplate etchinigs, relief prints, and offset lithographs. They also provide scanning and mounting services.

The post-and-beam construction of their building may look rustic, quaint and homey, but everything inside the building was specifically designed for optimizing workflow, enhancing communications with customers, and controlling print quality.  

For capturing original artwork, Brilliant Studio uses Phase One and Hasselblad cameras and Creo Eversmart Pro Scanners.

They can make prints on a wide range of equipment, including four 44-in. Epson Stylus Pro 9800 printers with the ImagePrint RIP, a 64-in. Epson Stylus Pro 11880 printer, and a Ryobi four-color waterless offset lithography press. In the midst of all new technology stands an antique etching press, which can be used either for copperplate etchings or relief prints from woodcuts or linoleum cuts.

Empathy and Advice: As a photographer himself, Tursack understands that when photographers give him an original file to print they are giving him a piece of their soul. He says, “I know what goes into creating an image and the sense of great disappointment that can be felt when something you created isn’t reproduced well.”

He encourages artists to freely tell him when they don’t like something. But he also feels comfortable enough to suggest ways they can improve the market acceptance of their work without compromising their artistic integrity.

Marketing Support: Bob Tursack and his staff are happy to help good artists get their work noticed. When appropriate, they introduce artists to some of their gallery or publisher clients.

And the marketing consultants and designers at Brilliant Graphics can help artists create branding and identity packages, and advertise their work in regional lifestyle magazines and art trade journals.

Brilliant Studio also produces a bimonthly mailing of full-color art cards to 3,000 qualified contacts in the print-sales marketplace. Each card features the work of a single artist with details about the artist and available print sizes.

To promote efficiency and communications, all of the estimating, customer service, prep and planning are done in one location. (Photo: Brilliant Graphics)

In-Depth Media Evaluation: One role Tursack takes very seriously is helping the artist choose the right paper or canvas for each print. He recommends a paper for a particular job based on its color gamut, maximum density, tactile quality, archival nature, and what the paper will add to the personality of the print.

Depending on the requirements of a particular job, he may recommend a Hahnemuhle German Etching, Photo Rag Bright White, Photo Rag Satin, Fine Art Pearl, Photo Rag, or Fine Art Baryta. For prints output on canvas, I am pleased to report that he uses LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas or Instant-Dry Satin Canvas.

Bob Tursack evaluates different materials so that the artist’s trust in his expertise will be rewarded. He believes that “Understanding where an artist is trying to go with their work is by far the most important part of what we do.”

 It’s hard to describe how impressed I was when I visited Brilliant Studio earlier this month. I encourage you to read more in the story In Focus, or visit the websites of Brilliant Graphics and Brilliant Studio and see for yourself what makes this business unique.

The Brilliant-Graphics website includes a virtual tour of their facilities. Shown here is one of two customer viewing areas and conference rooms.

Ten Warning Signs of an Inferior Giclee

In an article in the Art World News, Gary Kerr of Fine Art Impressions provides excellent advice for Choosing the Right Fine Art Giclée Printmaker. He cautions that finding the right printmaking requires artists to do some research because “The quality of giclée printmaking varies as much as the art itself.”

Fine Art Impressions is so committed to quality in every step of the process that they can truthfully promote their work as museum-quality giclées. They have done work for the Louvre in Paris, and often make prints for artists who have sold originals for $50,000 and more. The most expensive original Fine Art Impressions has reproduced to date was valued at $800,000.

In his article on choosing the right printmaker, Kerr emphasizes that “First and foremost, the shop you choose should handle the digitizing of your art in-house, offering specific expertise in techniques for lighting and capturing original art properly. The accuracy of the process to digitize your art will determine 90% of the quality achieved in the final print.”

In a sidebar, he lists the 10 warning signs of an inferior giclée.

  • Blurred or soft image focus.
  • Poor image delineation or sharpness.
  • Overexposed highlight detail or underexposed shadow detail.
  • Pixel artifacts: jpeg compression, poor scan quality, pixel noise.
  • “Halo” outlines or improper/excessive image sharpening.
  • Poor color rendition or “fake” looking colors, flat, or lifeless colors.
  • Printer malfunctions: banding, streaking, or other misprint patterns.
  • No texture, detail, or nuance in the print.
  • Lack of a UV coating on canvas prints.
  • Color cast, poor gray balance, or odd tint.
To digitize artwork, Fine Art Impressions uses a high-resolution Better Light camera back mated to a Sinar 4x5 studio view camera. The studio's HID lighting doesn't subject the artwork to undue heat or UV rays.
Fine Art Impressions uses a high-resolution Better Light camera back with a 4x5 studio view camera. The studio's HID lighting doesn't subject the artwork to undue heat or UV rays.

In a story to be published in the next issue of LexJet’s In Focus newsletter, Kerr says “Fine Art Impressions is here to replicate art so accurately that no one knows that it isn’t the original. We want to enable the joy of owning art without the financial commitment or in-depth knowledge involved with collecting original art.”

He uses a music analogy to remind artists that not everyone with access to better cameras and printers is equally skilled at the craft of printmaking: “Remember, the music is in the pianist, not the piano.” He takes great pride in the craftsmanship of the work at Fine Art Impressions and is committed to client satisfaction: “We invest the time it takes to make the best possible print for our artists.”

You can read more about Fine Art Impressions by visiting: www.fineartgiclee.com. A copy of Gary Kerr’s article on Choosing the Right Fine Art Printmaker can be downloaded from that site.

Graham Editions: Appreciating the Art in Art Reproduction

Not all companies that offer fine-art reproduction services are equally well equipped—particularly when it comes to the most important phase of the process: the digital capture. Significant variations exist in the type of capture equipment and lighting set-ups used.

If the original artwork isn’t captured at sufficiently high resolutions and under the correct lighting, the intricate brushstroke detail that adds texture and nuance to a work won’t reproduce as well as you might like—especially if the painting is enlarged from its original size. And some areas of the reproduced painting may show more detail than others. Color quality can become a concern if the printmaker lacks sufficient experience in the finer points of digital color reproduction.

One printmaker who values the importance of high-res capture and color management is Geoff Graham of Graham Editions in Canoga Park, CA.


Geoff Graham regards his printmaking atelier as a fine-art boutique, offering whatever high-end scanning, capture, and fine-art printing services a client might require. Graham Editions routinely produces large editions of high-end works for art publishers, but also enjoys working with individual artists and photographers who just need a few prints. www.grahahm-editions
Geoff Graham regards his printmaking atelier as a fine-art boutique, offering whatever high-end scanning, capture, and fine-art printing services a client might require. Graham Editions routinely produces large editions of high-end works for art publishers, but also enjoys working with individual artists and photographers who just need a few prints.

Having worked as a commercial photographer for more than 25 years, Graham has acquired an in-depth knowledge of color along with the high-end imaging equipment needed for top-quality fine-art reproduction. He is totally committed to achieving the best possible quality during every step of the art-reproduction process.

For capture, he typically uses a Sinar P2 4×5 view camera with a PhaseOne FX scanning back. Combined with his powerful North Light 900 HID lighting set-up with UV filters, he can create ultra-high-resolution files with all of the detail required to make beautiful, consistently detailed reproductions.

“I’ve been using large- and medium-format cameras since I can remember,” says Graham. “The scan back cost $37,000 when I first purchased it, and the quality it reproduces is mind-blowing. It has an area of 10,500 x 12,600 pixels and the detail is phenomenal. I use high-end reprographic lenses so I can get as close to the image as I need to. I also have lots of flexibility in my lighting.” This flexibility enables him to adjust the lighting according to the nature and texture of each piece of art.   

He typically reproduces originals painted with oil and acrylic on canvas in sizes from 16 x 20 in. up to 48 x 72 in. but he has captured paintings larger than that.  He says, “If it’s any bigger than 48 x 72, I can shoot it in sections and blend in Photoshop.”

The files are output on one of three Epson printers. Graham generally uses the 44-in. Epson Stylus Pro 9600 for black-and-white printmaking, the 44-in. Epson 9800 with fine-art papers, and the 64-in. Epson Stylus Pro 11880 with LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas. Having each printer dedicated to certain types of jobs makes it more efficient to keep the workflow totally color managed. 

Geoff Graham has considerable expertise in color management, which he regards as the key process in fine-art reproduction. He did some consulting in the early years of the digital color management, and knows how to use and interpret profiles. He uses ProfileMaker software and i1 color-measuring devices now sold by X-Rite to create custom profiles for all of his capture, display, and output devices.

He keeps the studio exceptionally clean, which is particularly important during the printing and finishing phases. Graham meticulously coats all canvases by hand. He typically applies two coats of varnish and creates profiles for his print media based on how the prints will look after the varnish is applied.

Graham doesn’t expect clients to understand all of the technical reasons why this fine-art reproduction workflow produces great-looking results. Instead, he simply shows them the high level of printmaking skills he has attained since going into the fine-art reproduction full-time business several years ago.

All of the cameras, scanners, printers, and monitors at Graham Edition are color managed. “Everything is closed-loop,” says Graham. “What I see on the monitor is exactly what I print out.” In order for the colors in a reproduction to be accurately viewed, the studio has neutral gray walls and overhead lighting that simulates pure daylight
All of the cameras, scanners, printers, and monitors at Graham Edition are color managed. “Everything is closed-loop,” says Graham. “What I see on the monitor is exactly what I print out.” In order for the colors in a reproduction to be accurately viewed, the studio has neutral gray walls and overhead lighting that simulates pure daylight

Clients can inspect the high-end reproductions on the walls of the studio, view samples of previous jobs, or examine some of the high-res files that he has captured. “I zoom in 100% and let clients see the dots in the canvas,” explains Graham. “Even at 100%, each corner is razor sharp.” 

 When you talk to Graham, you quickly understand that he’s not only passionate about reproducing the art to the best of his ability, he’s also passionate about the art. As he explains to visitors to his website, “I serve the vision of you, the artist, and put you in the driver’s seat while using state-of-the art technology.”

When some customers ask why doesn’t do serigraphs or lithographs, he explains that those methods aren’t “print-on-demand.” The prepress set-up requirements for serigraphy or lithography make it cost-prohibitive to produce only a few prints as needed. The ability to print only as many copies of a print as you can sell is a key advantage of digital-printing technology.

Plus, advances in inks and materials make it possible to produce prints on canvas and paper that will last for 100 to 150 years under typical gallery display conditions.

Inkjet printing technology has improved to the point that it’s nearly impossible to tell that the print is created from dots. As Graham observes: “Digital printing technology is so evolved, I don’t think anyone will go to lithography again.

For more information, visit the Graham Editions website: www.graham-editions.com

Tips from an Artist on Finding a Giclee Printing Service

By Darren Vena

Finding the right company to reproduce your art can be a challenge, partly because so many different types and sizes of businesses now offer fine-art reproduction services. Each business seems to offer a different mix of services, capabilities and expertise.

So, at Studio LexJet, we’d like to introduce you to some of the many LexJet customers across the US that offer giclée-printing services. We will also pass along some of their insights that can help artists and art buyers who are trying to make sense of the ongoing digital revolution in art reproduction.

In previous posts, we’ve profiled Lizza Studios in Tuckhannock, PA, and Fine Balance Imaging on Whidbey Island, WA.

Artist Mike Damico runs the Frame & Art Gallery in Fort Myers, FL
Artist Mike Damico runs the Frame & Art Gallery in Fort Myers, FL

Here, let me tell you about Mike Damico who runs MindYourPrints.com. Mike Damico is a trained and talented artist, who sells his works through the small gallery he operates as part of the Frame & Art Gallery custom frame shop he owns in Fort Myers, FL.  

His giclee-printing business, MindYourPrints.com, offers high-quality large-format printing services to individual artists and photographers as well as other gallery owners. Damico uses an Epson Stylus Pro 9800 and typically recommends either LexJet’s Sunset Matte Canvas, Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper, Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g, or LexJet Premium Archival Matte Paper.   

In addition to printing, Damico offers high-quality scanning of 4 x 5 transparencies, dry mounting of prints and canvas, spray-coating of printed canvases, canvas stretching, and custom matting and framing.

For jobs that require original paintings to be digitized, Damico has partnered with the Nautilus Photograpic Studio, also in Fort Myers. The studio is equipped with the controlled lighting and a 32-megapixel Hasselblad camera for capturing all of the details necessary for a good reproduction.

Here are five tips from Mike Damico for finding the right printmaker for your work:  . The initial digitization of an image will make or break a final product.

1.            Work with professionals who understand the value of a quality image capture. The initial digitization of an image will make or break a final product.

2.            Ask who the printer’s primary customer is. If the answer is photographers and/or artists, then the printmaker should have a good handle on how to produce a quality image.

3.            Try to find someone locally, so you can get a better understanding of the process and have more control over quality. Find someone you work well with and who can meet your needs. Doing business with someone you have a good relationship with can have a huge difference in the overall quality of your prints.

4.            Expect to pay more for a high quality art reproduction (giclee) than you would pay for a photo enlargement on canvas. Compared to busy lab that is simply outputting digital photographs, the giclee printmaker uses only top-quality materials and is likely to spend far more time attaining the best possible color match to your original, compared to a lab that is simply outputting a digital photograph.

printerflowerColor matching can be very challenging because the surface texture, depth of light penetration, light absorption rates, and even the chemistry of a surface or pigment can affect how light reflects back to the eye. As Mike puts it: “To take an image that was painted on canvas and convert it to millions of little dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks is a feat in itself. Getting the millions of ink dots to look like the original can be mind-blowing.” Plus, different types of display lighting can play funny tricks on your eye—especially when the final print isn’t produced from the same compounds as the original art.

5.            Find someone you trust to keep up with the most important advances in digital printmaking. A lot of information has been published about digital fine-art reproduction. It’s OK if you don’t absorb and understand all of the intricacies. The key is to work with someone you trust—someone who has proven that they can deliver the type of quality you need.

Other Words of Advice for Artists and Art Buyers: Once the work has been printed and sold, make sure your customers understand what they’re buying, advises Damico. When selling a reproduction of an original painting, your buyers should understand that it’s a reproduction. If it’s a print that’s been hand-embellished, they should know that, too. 

Damico believes it’s important for everyone in the art community to adapt to changing times and accept that digital imaging is a legitimate method of creating and reproducing art. The time has also come to recognize that digital tools can be a bona fide means of expressing an artistic vision, and not something that inherently requires less skill. Even so, Damico emphasizes, “We must never forget the foundations and evolution of art.”

The next time you’re in the Ft. Myers area, we encourage you to stop by and visit Mike Damico’s Frame & Art Gallery. Or visit his website: www.mindyourprints.com.

If you aren’t sure where to find good digital printmakers in your part of the country, contact me or one of the account specialists at LexJet at 800-453-9538. We would be happy to refer you to printmakers in your area who can provide the types of digital art-reproduction and post-printing services you need.