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by moose henderson on Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:07 pm
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I will be doing my first high-end art show/fair this summer plus a gallery showing in Sept. I have done a couple smaller shows but this will be the Jackson Hole Art Fair in the park in July and August. I plan to start doing a few art fairs per year.

I have used Ilford papers in the past for prints but feel the need to "step-up" the quality. I do primarily wildlife photography. What is a good recommended fine art paper for prints that will be sold at art shows and also sold in galleries. I can print up to 17x24 on an Epson 3880. At this time, larger prints will need to be done by an outside lab; once I get in full swing, will consider a large format printer.

Thanks in advance.
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by E.J. Peiker on Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:46 am
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There is nothing wrong with Ilford papers. They make some high end exhibit quality stuff but my vote goes to Canson papers. My favorite would be Canson Plantine Fiber Rag but you will get many opinions. Perhaps Royce will chime in, he does fine art printing for a living!
 

by Mike in O on Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:28 pm
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Can't compare much, but I do like Red River papers.  I do use Canon high end papers (made by 3rd party so may vary) but they can be difficult to work with in my 9500.
 

by Royce Howland on Fri Feb 24, 2017 6:09 pm
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There are literally scores of options to choose from, so making a recommendation is difficult. As always with any request for recommendations, the more we know about your needs, budget, resources, etc. the better we can advise. I print professionally as well as having printed for myself for 15 years, and have used many, many papers that I love. Our shop currently stocks over 30+ fine art papers for inkjet printing and we use all of them all the time, to varying degrees. Certain specialty ones (such as Awagami kozo papers) clearly have very specific appeal for a limited range of projects, but even among the ones generally useful there are still dozens to consider.

If you need larger prints made and must use a printing service for them, and want consistency with the pieces you print yourself, then right away that's going to constrain your options. Labs will deal with a certain collection of papers; most use far fewer than we do. So that will render moot a bunch of recommendations we might make.

Having said that, when we're working with people who aren't sure what paper they might wish to use, we have a common approach to figure it out. The first thing to do is describe the characteristics of the paper that may be of interest, particularly in terms of how the paper will enhance the printed works. Papers have some basic characteristics:
- Resin coated (i.e. basic "photo paper") or fibre paper (usually described as "fine art papers")
- Glossy or matte finish, or somewhere in between
- Warm-toned or very bright-white, or somewhere in between
- Smooth surface, very textured, or somewhere in between
- Budget priced (which often means don't care about longevity or materials quality), or suitable for museum/gallery/collector pieces

Based on answering some of those kinds of questions, a few papers will trickle out of the set of possibilities. Then the second thing to do is make a few test prints and actually look in detail at the prints. Decide what you like by looking at actual prints. For papers that you like the look of, find out a bit more about them to determine if they really match what you want. If one or more fit, then Bob's your uncle.

I've printed on Hahnemuhle, Canson, Ilford, Moab, Breathing Color, Inkpress, Canon/Epson (or whatever they really are, sold under the printer manufacturer's label), and many more. There are great papers, okay, papers, mediocre papers, and bad papers. Some great paper mills produce some bad papers, and some mills you never heard of have some amazing papers. If you don't have time, budget or tolerance to really experiment that much, and considering that 3rd paper printing services likely won't use too many choices from the smaller producers, you're likely looking for something from Hahnemuhle, Canson, Ilford or Moab.

A very popular semi-glossy cotton rag fibre paper with us is Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta. We used to love Canson Platine Fibre Rag, which E.J. mentioned. It is very similar to Photo Rag Baryta, but the Canson paper developed a bad habit of flaking terribly, so we've gone away from it in the past year+. For a matte paper, our most popular one is Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, also a cotton rag fibre paper. Similar to this, you could consider Moab Entrada Rag or Moab Somerset Museum Rag, or Canson Velin Museum Rag, among others.

Many papers have very specific handling characteristics. For example I love the look of prints on Hahnemuhle Bamboo, which is made of actual bamboo and has a golden warm glow with a smooth matte surface. But it's a very stiff paper (which most wood pulp-type papers are, as opposed to cotton rag papers which are more relaxed and pliable). So printing from rolls or cut sheets sometimes incurs head strikes because the paper has a stiff curl to it. Care and some tuned printing parameters are required to avoid striking every print. The same kind of thing is true for something like Ilford Gold Fibre Silk. I love the look of prints on GFS, which is a warm-toned, smooth semi-glossy surface. But the paper base is alpha cellulose, i.e. wood pulp. So it's also stiff. Plus it cockles in areas of heavy ink load. These factors lead to lots of head strikes if care isn't taken.

Many papers have other handling characteristics that may or may not make them suitable for what you want. E.g. if you're selling loose prints then you probably need something a bit heavier & relaxed to handle (to avoid folding & creasing), and with a robust surface (to resist flaking, scuffing, scraping, etc.).

So... there are many choices, some generally the same as other popular options, some very uniquely distinctive...
Royce Howland
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:03 pm
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Good to know about the Canson, my stock of that is about 2 years old.
 

by moose henderson on Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:17 pm
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Thanks so much for the detailed replies, my apologies for not giving more detail in my original question but I also am a bit new to "fine art" printing. My former printing was for myself and one big gallery show in Russia. For that show, I used all Ilford Galleria Smooth Pearl. Basically I was satisfied with the results but I am sure they could have been better if I had been more knowledgeable.

Allow me to modify my original question: what fine art paper, with good archival quality (65 years or greater) in a pearl or silk type paper has a good canned (do not need custom) profile for the Epson 3880 printer? For example, does the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta paper have a good printer profile without needing to get a custom profile made?
moose henderson
Wildlife and Nature Photography
Website: http://www.moosehenderson.com
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by E.J. Peiker on Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:24 pm
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In my opinion, all of the papers (that I have used) from Royce's and my list have excellent 3880 profiles (I use that same printer). You might be able to make a better profile but the difference will be virtually indistinguishable, and certainly not material to somebody looking at the prints without comparing them to another print made of the same photo made with a different profile.
 

by moose henderson on Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:59 pm
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Awesome EJ, I will order paper from the list tonight, I just got the printer for $50, it is half full of inks and no clogs. A lady donated it to the art assoc where I volunteer, we have a printer at the art assoc so they sold it to me.
moose henderson
Wildlife and Nature Photography
Website: http://www.moosehenderson.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/moosehendersonphoto/
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:54 pm
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moose henderson wrote:
Awesome EJ, I will order paper from the list tonight, I just got the printer for $50, it is half full of inks and no clogs. A lady donated it to the art assoc where I volunteer, we have a printer at the art assoc so they sold it to me.


If the ink is more than 6 months past its expiration, expect some color shifts.
 

by Mark Picard on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:15 pm
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E.J. Peiker wrote:
moose henderson wrote:
Awesome EJ, I will order paper from the list tonight, I just got the printer for $50, it is half full of inks and no clogs. A lady donated it to the art assoc where I volunteer, we have a printer at the art assoc so they sold it to me.


If the ink is more than 6 months past its expiration, expect some color shifts.




Make sure every 3 months or so that you take out the ink cartridges one by one and give then a gentle shake side to side for 15 seconds each, then put them back in. This will insure that the inks remain mixed enough to keep them from separating all the pigments and binders which can cause color shifts and the like should they separate . 
Mark Picard
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