Epson Digigraphie – a sign of fine art prints?

Epson Digigraphie to launch in the UK

Yesterday I paid a visit to Epson’s UK HQ to have a look at the newly announced SP4900 and the SP7890/9890 and I’ve added some notes to those particular pages.  The other reason for my visit was the announcement of the UK launch of Epson’s ‘Digigraphie’ programme in the UK.

It will start up in 2011 and is accepting applications for membership now. Email Digigraphie@Epson.co.uk for more details, or visit the web site at www.digigraphie.com

“To become a Digigrapher, artists and galleries can equip themselves with the Epson products which comply with the technical terms of Digigraphie from a select number of resellers that will be chosen for their recognised skills and their involvement in the photography and art markets. Alternatively artists will be able to use one of the network of UK approved professional Digigraphie Labs to produce their limited edition artworks.”

This was launched in Europe a few years ago and offers:

‘Digigraphie by Epson enables artists, galleries, museums and bureaux alike to maximise their opportunities to add value to their work exclusively, by using the very best printing technology together with a wide range of certified media, therefore guaranteeing exceptional, repeatable quality. Those participating in this programme have the added benefit of being able to showcase their works on-line by uploading their images to a dedicated section of the Digigraphie.com website.’

Amongst things in your membership kit (there is a cost for this) is a printers stamp or ‘Chop’ you can use on your prints

print stamp

Digigraphie stamp or 'chop'

There were a range of prints on show at the event, from artists/photographers who are currently members.

Prints at Epson UK

Some Digigraphie members' prints

At launch, you do have to use a ‘certified’ paper type:

‘A range of 26 high-quality fine art/photo media is certified for use with the Digigraphie programme, 10 produced by Epson, seven by Canson and nine by Hahnemühle. Each media undergoes rigorous testing by independent laboratories to ensure it meets high levels of quality, durability and consistency of reproduction, to guarantee the stability of prints over time.’

I’m told that other manufacturers can submit their papers for incorporation into the approved list… perhaps other printer manufacturers too ;-)

As someone who produces their own fine-art prints, this is something that potentially interests me, although my gut feelings are that it might be perceived to mean more, if it were more independent. I hope it works well, but as one person dryly commented to me: ‘Just because the prints are produced to high quality standards doesn’t mean the actual picture is any good’ :-)

There is also the question of what exposure on the web site gets you as an artist, other than getting to see the work of other members. Perhaps my feelings are related to why this has taken some time for it to move beyond a ‘European’  project (sorry, but even though I’m half French, I still don’t naturally think of the UK as European – you have to cross the channel to get to Europe from here ;-)

Whatever my historical biases, I’ll be keeping an eye on its progress and what impact it has on the fine art print market.

‘Signature Worthy’ range of paper

Also on show were five papers

epson cut sheet media

Epson papers

‘The Signature Worthy range will include Epson’s highest-quality cut-sheet media products that enable the best possible print results for artists and photographers alike. When used in combination with Epson’s Stylus Pro print technologies and UltraChrome inks, the Signature Worthy media will deliver Digigraphie-approved results allowing fine art and photographic artists to produce limited, certified editions of their original works, as well as guaranteeing exceptional image quality and durability.’

Some time ago we looked at their Traditional Photo Paper or Exhibition Fiber as it is known in the US. The two other papers are hot and cold press rag papers with and without OBAs.

  • http://artdigigraphie.com innovateur

    you miss the point completely. Look at the requirements they set
    – an artist has to take training on how to make a ‘digigraphie’ print? what! It only qualifies as ‘digigraphie’ if it’s done our (i.e. Epson’s) way – as opposed to, say, whatever method a Turner, F. Bacon, D. Hirst, Banksy decides is appropriate for their expression. Example – Epson would balk, since it’s not ‘authorized’ Epson – if an artist manipulated ‘official’ 7900 carts by draining the actual colours and filling then with various shades of red. To the world that would be art – to Epson (under their def. of digigraphie – it would not be ‘quality’).

    It does have to do with ‘artistic’ merit – if the operating envelope of producing an image if limited /constrained by a commercial manufacturer rather than expanded by utilizing the full range of the technology.

    • http://www.northlight-images.co.uk Keith

      No, from my point of view it is you who are (quite deliberately IMHO ;-) missing the point of what this is about.

      You are attaching far too much significance to a marketing move that fits in with Epson’s desire to be seen as a tool for the process of creating fine art prints (whatever that term may actually mean)

      I don’t need Epson to tell me about the artistic value or otherwise of my own work – I do recognise tools I might use to sell it though…

      PS, why not have the courage of your convictions and post under your real name? Anonymity hardly ever makes a message more appealing :-)

  • http://artdigigraphie.com innovateur

    it was in use long before Epson decided to use it as part of their program. They did not invent the word, only linked it to their commercial mindset.

    • http://www.northlight-images.co.uk Keith

      It’s a rather clumsy sounding word to use in English, but given the horror which some artists attach to having their work described as ‘Inkjet prints’ I suppose something more exclusive and dare I say pretentious is just what will appeal to some.

      It’s also good to know that a firm the size of Epson does have a commercial mindset :-)

      Nothing they said was about the artistic merit of stuff with the mark…

  • http://artdigigraphie.com innovateur

    The entire concept of an Epson-defined method – using a generic term – digigraphie, is far from being of benefit to artists, collectors, the public. The entire ink-jet medium has yet to be fully explored (see Epson’s own use of ink-jet technology for printing electronic circuits, et.al.)and is not entirely understood. To limit an artist to what Epson defines as ‘the method – specific media /equipment’ is denying the full range of artistic possibilities. Is a work of ‘art’ using fluids other than Epson inks (including Epson’s own etching fluids) on media other than fine art papers any less ‘art’ than what Epson is ramming down the public’s throat?

    Rather than an Epson-approved method – why not create /implement a quality control method that would insure that the artists own desires on how their work be presented – no matter what that level of ‘technical perfection’ is. Art is more than a excellent /error-free / long lasting version of a bad image / bad art.

    • http://www.northlight-images.co.uk Keith

      Is it a generic term? Epson write it Digigraphie® in their latest press release.

      It’s about print sales far more than any esoteric discussions of whether they are good/bad/whatever :-)