Professor Steve Macleod on Fine Art Printing
When people ask me: ‘What is one of the most important aspects of fine art printing?’ I always say the working collaboration between artist and printer.
As a darkroom master printer, I have worked with many of the world’s formative artists and photographers. I have always viewed myself as an extension of the client’s creative vision, my job is to exceed their expectation and deliver something that is archival, considered and crafted. I have carried that vision as a core working practice at Metro Imaging in London.
Professional photographic labs have come through the analogue and digital implementation of process and there has never been a more exciting time to be in this industry, as technologies and time-worn crafts combine to offer a wide range of services for creatives. At Metro Imaging, quality and professionalism are at the core of what we do – whether it is large format photographic C-type and B&W printing, or ink based Giclée and Direct to Media printing, we always advise as best we can to our clients.
There is a diverse range of media options available to creatives as follows:
C-type – Metro has a reputation for producing the best quality prints available and C-type prints are an industry standard for photographic colour printing, whether from analogue or digital sources. Papers are manufactured by Fuji and Kodak up to 128cm wide and come in a range of surfaces including: Matt; Gloss; Supergloss; Metallic and Velvet. Kodak produces a paper 182cm wide in both Matt and Gloss finishes, and at Metro, we are one of the few companies that can produce 6x10ft C-type prints.
What is a digital C-Type print?
Black & White – As with C-type, Metro has based much of its reputation on B&W printing and in line with our innovative approach, we developed the world’s first hybrid genuine silver gelatin B&W papers that are responsive to Digital Laser technologies. Archival B&W prints can be produced from digital files up to 128cm wide, and we are the only company in the UK that can do this. This media is fully archival and comes in a double weight Fibre Based (FB) and a single weight Resin Coated (RC) range. We also continue to offer a B&W analogue darkroom service.
Fibre based or Baryta papers for black & white printing
Giclée – Also known as Inkjet or Pigment printing, this is a non-photographic ink-based process, where archival aqueous inks are output onto a wide range of industry-standard media; including Hahnemühle, Somerset and Canson. Metro was at the forefront of inkjet imaging, and during the digital coming of age there was an explosion of inkjet printing; it was fast, affordable and the barrier to entry for companies was very low – meaning anyone could print, from anywhere. However, we have always upheld quality and archival stability, so we only use industry standard ink and paper combinations to ensure the best of service. We can print on a variety of papers up 152cm wide. We also offer Giclée Fibre based prints called ‘Baryta prints’ produced on our Epson Stylus Pro 11880. Instead of a light-sensitive emulsion, the surface of the paper is receptive to pigment ink. Contrasting with more typical ‘Giclée’ papers, commonly matt in surface texture, these Baryta papers are slightly glossy.
More on Giclée Printing
Direct to Media – As an emerging technology, DTM printing combines inkjet technology with flatbed printers, we can print on any material up to 10x8ft and 4” thick. Solvent-based inks that are UV cured on contact with the substrate, dry immediately meaning no priming is required – artists are exploring this new process to inform and develop their practice beyond traditional photographic and two-dimensional presentation.
Professor Steve Macleod | Director - Metro Imaging Ltd
*Image above: 'Frank Sinatra, with his minders and stand in, arriving at Miami beach while filming, The Lady in Cement, 1968'.
Black and White Lightjet print by Terry O'Neill | ©Iconic Images | Behind the Scenes at Metro Imaging