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ArtSure and why we have left the accreditation…

Artsure - The Artists Print Room

After a long and difficult deliberation, we have had some frustrations with the Fine Art Trade Guild and their ArtSure scheme. Therefore, we have consequently taken the decision to leave ArtSure as we believe this is in the best interest of our clients and is no longer adding value to your fine art giclée prints.

At The Artist’s Print Room, we are constantly striving to push the limits and expectations from fine art giclée printers. We believe an outstanding print quality with great definition; precise and accurate colour reproduction is paramount to this quality. Moreover, consistent reproductions of prints are critical to this standard.

The previous scheme – Approved Printer Programme

Previous to ArtSure, The Fine Art Trade Guild had a standard for printers, known as the Approved Printer Programme. Fine art giclée printers would submit their offered substrates to an independent UKAS approved laboratory for testing. This would test for blue wool scale and lightfastness. If your prints were approved and successful you would receive a certificate. Unfortunately, this was a time consuming and costly exercise with each paper type costing approximately £140 plus VAT. Therefore, change was required and was very much welcome!

The current ArtSure scheme

ArtSure was seen as a great step forward with a predesigned set of standards in giclée papers, inks and printers. It was fortunate in meaning there were no more expensive UKAS lab costs. In particular for us here at The Artist’s Print Room, this equated to a massive cost saving as we were offering 12 different substrate qualities at the time. Consequently, we could pass that saving onto our clients. To begin with in the first year, just three fine art printers signed up to the ArtSure scheme, however, it rapidly expanded.

My initial concern regarding this was the new roll out. For us, it felt the focus was no longer on fine art printers, but it opened the market to self-publishing artists and photographers. Furthermore, it enabled anyone with an approved printer, ink and paper combination to have the ArtSure status, thus, in our opinion losing credibility. Anyone could spend just half an hour and with a few clicks have all the specified materials on the ArtSure list. This would subsequently mean they could gain the ArtSure status. Regardless of the quality of the prints they produced, whether pixelated, blurred, visible banding, missing ink spots or fingerprints they could still be a member of this accreditation. Furthermore, there was no audit trail which was previously required under the old system. Individuals could easily swap products for cheaper alternatives of a much lower quality as this was not checked and audited; therefore this poor quality could be deemed approved by ArtSure.

Under this scheme, it felt like anyone could purchase the required equipment and then purchase the ArtSure accreditation. This was foregoing the years of dedication to the industry, knowledge and expertise we truly believe makes an outstanding fine art giclée printer. I voiced my concerns to the Fine Art Trade Guild and was invited to speak to the guild committee. However, sadly, my invitation never arrived, and I therefore have doubts over the aim of this programme and the true motivation behind it.

Moving forward, the Fine Art Trade Guild have now introduced a partnership with Innova paper, and this will be launched in China which we have our doubts over. It is important to note here that Innova are not a fine art paper manufacturer. Whereas, there are other manufacturers in the industry which are seen as market leaders and have a wealth of experience in paper manufacturing which are not involved in this process, and we believe this is a massive oversight and rather unfortunate. We are concerned that this programme is now no longer trying to strive to improve standards throughout the industry.

The ArtSure slogan, is ‘digital print quality you can trust’. We no longer feel that we can support this in the best interests of our clients. We do not believe that the quality of a fine art print is at the forefront of the programme and thus we will be taking a step back. The focus appears to be on the ‘materials’ used within fine art printing whereas we know there is much more to this process. Good quality materials do not make an outstanding giclée print. It is the knowledge and expertise of the people behind these businesses that bring the true quality and added value to the final product.

Sadly, we feel that the point of the scheme has been missed and we are dubious of the motivations behind this. We really hope this is not motivated by revenue.

Here at The Artist’s Print Room, we want our clients to have outstanding quality prints, and sadly, we no longer feel that ArtSure are supporting the industry in this way with their new principles so will be taking a step back from the scheme. We trust you understand the difficult decision we have come to and if anyone would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our primary focus is to support and develop the industry and consequently providing our clients with the highest quality prints.

The Artists Print Room

We are still the only UK based fine art printer to be accredited by Canson Infinity, Hahnemühle Fine Art, Epson Digigraphie and ILFORD Photo, so rest assured you can trust our quality and fine art printing processes. If you would like further information on anything we have highlighted above or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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