What is a Pigment Print?

The term "pigment print" is generally used to define any type of printed image that uses strictly pigments, rather than dyes. Image stability of pigment printing is superior to that of any other method of printing, including traditional gelatin silver process printing.

Digital inkjet printing has seen a surge in the use of the pigment ink as ink sets have been refined to be compatible with the latest in high-resolution inkjet technology.

Where archival dye-based ink sets exhibit excellent color gamut, pigment inks excel in permanence. A dye is molecularly soluble in its vehicle, but pigment is not. Pigment particles tend to be large enough to embed into the receiving substrate making them water-resistant. The particulate nature of pigment inks ensures their archival superiority. A particle of pigment is less susceptible to destructive environmental elements than a dye molecule.

Many digital papers have coatings which enhance color gamut. However, these delicate coatings are susceptible to scuffing and scratching, and diminish the archival properties of the print. Prints made with coated substrates are not considered true digital pigment prints. 

The Emerging Digital Print Market

As the nascent genre of digital art and photography gains acceptance in the art community, creative professionals are turning to digital prints to manifest their work. This market has grown rapidly as a function of the elevated quality of digital prints. As a result, the digital print is now a formidable and common photographic and fine art medium.

The major auction houses of Philips de-Prury, Christies, & Sotheby’s regularly hold fine art and photographic sales that include digital prints. Notable artists and photographers that employ the medium include Annie Liebovitz, Philip-Lorca di Corcia, Chuck Close, Wolfgang Tillmans, William Eggleston, and Catherine Opie.

Recent auctions of digital prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.) Catherine Opie photographic inkjet prints demand $5400 per image (April 27 2005, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.) 

The digital pigment print marketplace is emerging rapidly. One of the world’s largest photographic print shows (The 2006 AIPAD Photography Show) in New York City included over 15 major galleries that deal digital pigment prints and inkjet prints from the photographers they represent worldwide.

Source: ©2011 TeraJet, U.S.A. 

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