What is an Epson Digigraphie?

Sameland by Dawn Yoshimura

I decided to use the Digigraphie process to create artworks that were affordable but of the same quality and care I put into making originals. I also do offset digital prints for more utilitarian uses, like thank you cards, etc. but these do not need the same rigorous quality and creative control for my artworks. I chose Digigraphie over Giclee because there is no quality control for either the artist or the collector and essentially, a Digigraphie is chemically the same as one of my paintings–using high quality pigments, highest quality 100% cotton rag print paper, and my creative choices in collaboration with Jan Aqua in creating a digital file and print series that captures the emotion of the subject.

I’ve translated an article that explains the concept and how Jan Aqua works with artists. He is a talented photographer himself, and his wife Ingeborg a talented painter. We need about a week to produce a new series and I select 1 to 4 images a year, since I started collaborating with Jan Aqua in 2014.

from Artär Nr.1, 2014. Translation by Dawn Yoshimura.
DIGIGRAPH: A modern printing technique.

To reproduce an artistic or photographic work through printing out them on an inkjet printer started already at the end of the 1980s. In 1991 printer Jack Duganne coined the term Giclèe (Giclèe fine art) for prints done on an IRIS inkjetprinter, a high res large format proof print for material that would be offset print but in some cases pass for art prints. Later the word Giclèe came to be used for all prints made from an inkjet printer.
The disadvantage of this term Giclèe fine art, Digital fine art or similar terms are that it doesn’t say anything on the quality or archival quality of the print, only that it is done on an inkjet printer of which there exists lots of different types and with endless varying print quality and inks, ink types and print media.
To remove this problem, Epson in 2003 introduced the Digigraphie concept. Through use of Epsom Stylus Pro Printers together with Epson’s UltraChrome ink on Epson’s approved print media of the highest quality and a special Digigraphie program could for the first time, a quality assured artist prints be produced.
Epson selects through very strict criterium which laboratories can be certified to produce Digigraphie for artists and photographers. Labs must have total control for the color system from input and scanning (camera, scanner, image file) over file editing on the computer screen to the final printout on the printer.
The print quality at the lab is checked regularly through measurements sent in of proof prints from all media types which is used by Epson for approval at a minimum of every 3rd month.
This means that in practical terms, the artist or photographer can have total control over both the quality and quantity of their production. The artist or photographer decides themselves how many copies in a series which will be run over each case. Even if the last print of a series is printed many years in the future, the Digigraphie concept guarantees perfect reproduction of colors and nuances that cannot change over time.
The Digigraphie concept also prevents forgeries because each print of a series is numbered, signed by the artist and stamped by the lab and includes a signed certificate by both the lab and artist.
Epson can through testing conducted by the independent test company Wilhem Imaging Research and LNE guarantee the sustainability of a print according to Digigraphie concept for a period of at least 60 to 100 years or more. The guarantee is determined by the material that has the shortest life span according to tests.
Less conscientious printers who make Giclèe Fine Art for artist promise several hundred years sustainability for all prints. But to make such a promise is witness in the best case gross ignorance, in the worst case, a conscious effort to deceive their customers.
No one knows precisely how long a copy will last. Longetivity depends on many factors: paper quality, ink quality, the light exposure over time the print is subjected to, proximity to ground ozone, air moisture, etc.
Both the company Willhem research and Aardenburg Imaging and Archives conduct both long term and short term tests of different combinations of ink and printmaterial and they conclude that copies made foremost on fine quality art print paper according to Digigraphie’s concept can likely hold more than 200 years if they are stored under the same conditions that all art should be preserved, that is to say, framed with an acid free matt and backing and not exposed to direct light, preferably cool and with constant normal air moisture.
If they on the other hand is exposed to extreme lighting, such as hanging in a south facing window in a house in a large urban city near the equator and where the sun shines in 12 hours a day year round, they will degenerate probably after several years. This would happen also to watercolors, graphic prints, or oil or acrylic that is stored in a similar way.
Ellsinger and Radler HB has been for many years a Digigraphie certified lab. The company belongs to a small group of companies that are also certified by Hahnemuhle, one of the world’s foremost suppliers of art print paper and canvas.
The artist or photographer comes to the studio with either their own digital file or an original work of art which Jan digitizes either with a camera or scanner.
‘Then we sit down together in front of the screen and artwork set up in a lightbox. With controlled color temperatures and light strength (lumens) we work on the image file so that the artist or photographer achieves exactly the image they desire. The next step involves one or several test prints of selected areas of the image. After those the final print is output,’ says Jan.
Jan explains that many artists have been inspired by the many possibilities which the technique offers. Some artists come with finished artwork from which one can select out interesting details which is enlarged and printed out, mostly onto canvas, which the artist continues to paint on the print and thus creates a new original work.
Artists who work with watercolor will sometimes print out their work onto canvas just to see how it comes out. Just as often artists who work in oil or acrylic prints out single prints or series onto thick artist print paper to give more customers the opportunity to buy an artwork. The technique also gives artists the opportunity to have their artwork printed out in another size than the original work, which many artists take advantage of. The digital technology makes it possible for artists to change one or several color nuances in the printed copy or series so that it is easier to distinguish between the original work or in some cases make it ‘better’ than the original, one can think that the original should have had other color nuances or contrast so that it can be changed when one goes back and observes it after a period of time.
Many museums and collectors take advantage of the technique to produce copies which don’t’ require the same high security level when they are displayed or cost as much to insure. The original can then be stored under optimal conditions in secure locations.
Epson maintains also gree a web gallery where the artists can have their Digigraphies of their work can register and present their digigraphs. It can be found at www.digigraphie.com/int/gallery/index.html.
To contact Jan Aqua Ellsinger, Tel. 031-711-95 05 or 0708-11 95 05.