What Goes into a Vintage Edition? A Whole Lotta Work. April 08 2017
The multi-step process of editing Vintage Editions
Collectors are curious about our Vintage Editions. Why are they on 20x200? How can the prints be limited-edition when the image is available elsewhere? What kind of work goes into selecting the images and readying them for your walls? Today our Production Manager and vintage image researcher extraordinaire, Carly Piersol, is giving y’all a little insight into these old school art beauties.
Part of my job is production: overseeing our proofing process, gathering together information, making sure each edition release goes off without a hitch. The other part: art history explorer.
To unearth images for our Vintage Editions, we partner with incredible libraries and institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress. These cultural fixtures have so much knowledge to give, and the hard-working people behind them are doing all sorts of amazing, innovative things to get the knowledge out there. We’re thrilled to be able to support and celebrate the work they do. That work in turn helps us do our work: supporting artists. Sales from Vintage Edition prints go toward building out our growing artist roster. Purchasing equals patronage!
Delving into the archives of various art institutions also allows me to trace the beginnings of a medium, track different movements in art history, and draw a line between a photograph taken in 1927 and a contemporary image taken just a few years ago. We choose our Vintage Editions specifically to illustrate these connections, providing context for our contemporary editions and shining light on artists whose work was critical to their movements. Each Vintage release is accompanied by an extensively researched Artist Bio and Statement, penned by our editorial team, to further reveal those fascinating connective threads.
Rain Drops by Alfred Stieglitz
Response to Print of Kudzu, Texas by Laura Plageman
But before you can collect our limited-edition prints of these striking scenes of yesteryear, a lot of work goes into making sure they’re fully prepped for printing. There’s a ton of TLC (and a carefully trained eye) involved in every stage between acquiring the image file and getting it ready for release. First, I restore the file in Photoshop. This means scouring inch by inch to get rid of dust, scratches, or emulsion issues, and can take several hours to complete. Once file is clean, I make other adjustments to optimize the image.
Adding some contrast is critical—in this day and age, we’re instinctively accustomed to images that contain true blacks and true whites, and the quality of the Vintage Edition suffers by comparison if it’s a wash of gray or midtones. Older cameras weren’t as equipped to capture the full range of color tone, so we find a middle ground that still captures the feeling of a vintage photo but doesn’t appear unfinished to our modern eyes. After this, it’s ready to send to our printer! I work one-on-one with our printing team to source the optimal paper to present the photo in line with the way it would have been printed at the time it was produced. We go through several rounds of proofing and reviewing prints to ensure the edition is exactly on par with our specifications before it’s ready to release.
It’s this painstaking production process that makes our Vintage art limited-edition. While it is possible to access the original files, it’s only on 20x200 that you’ll find them masterfully restored, printed this cleanly and with such quality papers and inks. We take pride in our Vintage Editions, and we love seeing them on your walls. We’re pretty sure you’ll be stoked to have them up there too.
With art for everyone,
Carly + Team 20x200