Monday, November 19, 2012

BFA: The Classiest Fine Art Scanning & Printing Studio in the Northwest!


I'd like to take a moment before the holidays hit with a vengeance to promote one of my favourite small businesses that I believe every artist, art collector, and art curator should support. Check it.

If you make art, and you've ever considered reproducing your work, creating a digital archive, or meeting some of the most knowledgeable and experienced figures in Seattle's fine art scene, check out Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction. They offer museum quality digital scanning services, professional image retouching, fine art giclèe printing on a variety of archival substrates, laser cutting and engraving, art cards, business cards, magnets, stickers, signage, and a whole lot more!

Scanning detail
As an artist, it is incredibly important to me to preserve my work at the highest possible quality. I want the art on my website and online portfolios to be accurate reflections of my original pieces, and I want my watercolour prints to look so amazing that I can hardly tell which is the print and which is the original. For years prior to discovering Bellevue Fine Art, I'd been using a flat bed scanner to capture my watercolours and drawings, but the lighting was inconsistent, and I usually had to do a fair amount of digital retouching afterward. As of last winter, however, my flat bed scanner has been officially retired and re-appropriated as a perch for my cats, and I now have all of my work scanned at BFA.
Better Light scanning set-up (photo courtesy of Bellevue Fine Art)
Bellevue Fine Art uses a Better Light high-resolution 4x5 scanning back camera to digitally capture pieces up to 6' x 8' without touching the surface of the original artwork (this is especially important for media such as charcoal, pastel, and oil paintings that haven't completely cured). They use a special polarising filter on paintings with high gloss to ensure that an accurate image is achieved with no glare. All pieces are professionally digitally retouched to correct for colour and to minimise dust particles and any major imperfections. The process is straightforward, but it requires great attention to detail, and the BFA crew treats every piece that comes through the door with equal time and consideration. In addition to a disc with high-resolution files and web jpgs, BFA includes a physical colour proof with every scan, so that when you pick up your piece, it's easy to compare the original and the proof.

I've tried reproducing my work at quite a few other print studios in town, but it tends to be expensive, their paper options are limited, and their customer service is pretty limited too (most of them are self-serve). It's nearly impossible to find a place that takes the time (or cares enough) to ensure that the colours in the print actually match the colours in my original paintings. Thankfully, at BFA, I don't have to worry about any of that.

Fine art giclee print on Moab Entrada paper vs. original watercolour on Strathmore cold press paper

Bellevue Fine Art is super straight forward about pricing (there's a calculator online), and the variety of materials you have the choice of printing on is... impressive. BFA provides large format giclèe printing using the latest generation Epson Stylus Pro 9900 with UltraChrome HDR archival inks. Prints can be up to 44" wide with virtually no limit to length, and the 9900 can handle fine art papers, canvas, and even some fabrics. Fine art paper choices include: heavyweight 100% cotton rag paper (textured or smooth); bamboo paper; rice paper; metallic paper; glossy, pearl, and matte photo papers; card stock; and adhesive removable vinyl (stickers you can stick and stick again!). I prefer the textured watercolour papers, because they most closely resemble the cold press watercolour paper I paint on. But there are so many options, there's no way I could limit myself to just one. BFA also has the ability to print on wood and metal, and the prints I've seen on the brushed aluminum are pretty spectacular.

Laser cutting fun!
The newest, shiniest service offered at Bellevue Fine Art is laser cutting, etching, and engraving. The Morntech 100W CO2 laser can cut through a huge variety of substrates, including paper, wood, leather, canvas, mat board, foam core, fabric, and toast! If the material is too thick to cut completely, there's always etching: great for glass, granite, marble, steel, and brass in addition to the sliceable surfaces listed above. The possibilities are endless, but the website lists a few: "etched wine glasses, cut acrylic jewelry, drawings etched in wood and glass, paper cut artwork, intricately cut paper cards, contour cut stickers, contour cut artwork, pre-cut shapes of Masonite for painting panels, leather-work, felt fabric cutting, paper cut objects, mobiles, spray paint masks, cut linoleum for block prints, etching wood for block prints, etched glass for cabinets and custom picture framing, custom cut lettering and signs, logos, 3D designs..." (from www.bellevuefineart.com) So if you can think of something that needs to be lasered, BFA can probably find a way to do it.

Located in Bellevue, WA, across the street from the South Bellevue Park & Ride, Bellevue Fine Art is easily accessible by car and bus. Scott, the owner, has experience in a vast array of art and technology fields, and he's always happy to answer questions. The turn-around time is reasonable (usually about a week for scanning and proofing, and less than a week for prints). BFA not only offers a full spectrum of customer services in studio, they have solid web support as well, including a host of how-to videos, tonnes of product information, and motivational quotes to inspire and amuse. In case you live too far away to visit the studio in person, you can upload files online and place orders either online or over the phone. BFA is happy to ship your art worldwide.

Laser cut art card

One of my favourite things about being an artist is that every year for the holidays I have the ability to create something unique and special for my friends and family. Of course, there are those times when everyone wants a copy of the same painting, and there's only one original. Fortunately, I can have it scanned and reproduced at Bellevue Fine Art, and then everyone on my holiday list can receive a beautiful holiday card or fine art print that resembles the original in every way.

So before you drop a chunk of change on mediocre art prints at a major retail outlet compound, call up Bellevue Fine Art. You'll be treated personally and professionally, and you won't be disappointed with their products or their service. Support a small business and your local art scene all at the same time this holiday season! Cheers!

~ BCDuncan


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