Finding Material to Print Artwork

Hi There!

I have a wide format Roland 540-i that uses Eco Solvent Pigment Ink. It is primarily used to print vinyl for t-shirts, and we run stickers on it too sometimes. I have had a few inquiries about creating art prints recently for some local artists in the area, and I am looking for some opinions on what a good, reliable, paper medium would be.

So far I have looked on the Roland website and found that they offer matte paper that is usable with the ink that I have - but it’s not something I have used before. There is a roll of paper that came with the printer after acquiring it from a company that we bought out, but it doesn’t print very well - the color turns out… oh how do I describe this… blotchy? Like the ink is absorbing into the paper too much. The paper also feels strange - if you run your fingernails over it, it is almost feels like scratching your nails on a chalkboard.

The goal is to be able to produce a giclee quality print in small and large formats - and I know the ink-type that I have on hand is great for a quality art print because it very lightfast and produces vibrant colors.

But before I go ahead and spend almost $300 on a roll from Roland without being certain of the quality, I wanted to see if anyone else has some solid input/ advice.

The first problem you will have producing Giclees is that your machine is an eco-sol.
The whole idea with giclee is to be archival quality on acid free paper. Solvent is not allowed.
Most often, at least the ones I do for various artists are run on an Epson machine using archival, pigment based aqueous inks on Epson Acid free paper. There are some other media available out there too. They are printed at speeds so slow, we joke that grass grows faster (2400dpi.) As a buyer I’d never buy a solvent print for giclee-type one-off or series work.

On the other hand, if you are wanting to produce “canvas” prints and stretch them to stretcher bars and frame them, eco-sol can work, though when I do those, I prefer UV cured inks. They are just not called Giclee.

As for the paper, as a commercial shop (?) you can usually contact the manufacturer and they’ll send you a 10’ roll for short money, or sometimes even free.

I know the crappy coated stuff you are talking about. Hate it. It sucks to laminate too.

Print Driver, I had a feeling you would be the one to give me great advice and information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with me - I really appreciate it a lot and I’m grateful for you taking the time to reply and be helpful.

There is a lot of misinformation out there and I guess when I saw that pigment inks were ideal for high quality art prints I was like “oh boy my ink is pigment!” haha.

The information you gave me will really help guide my research on how I can go beyond jut printing vinyl for shirts.

Would you happen to have any resources; books, videos, guides, .etc that you could refer that might be helpful?

Do you just have the Roland? Is it at least 54" wide? With that you can run all sorts of short run sticker jobs from bumper stickers, racing branding, to construction temporaries. But you might be competing with the likes of franchise shops that can get materials for far cheaper due to massed quantity. With a laminator you get a better product that lasts longer.
There are no books. There are quite a few trade mags out there. I recommend:
Signs of the Times
Sign and Digital Graphics
And maybe if you can swing it, the aka Printing United Alliance now. Get to one of their tradeshows if you can. Their next Expo is in October in Atlanta GA

I been doing this 25 years and constantly finding new things to print on and going to one of their Expos is like being a kid in a candy store. I usually pick up so many sample things, I send them back to work in a FedEx box. Too much to bring on the plane home, LOL!

Another resource is the ISA (International Sign Association.) Their next expo is coming up in April in Las Vegas.