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Fine Art Printing in Hong Kong and what to look for

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

As an artist, producing fine art prints can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. We list out a few things to watch out for when getting fine art prints made from the importance of paper to ink types and colour correction.


Understanding Fine Art Printing And Giclée


Fine art printing is the process of creating prints based on either an original or digital artwork. Giclée is a type of fine art printing. “Giclée” comes from the French word “gicleur” meaning “sprinkler” or “jet”. The term was coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made using inkjet printers. A giclée print is a fine art print produced using over 12 individual pigment based archival inks on archival paper. The level of detail is outstanding and for this reason giclée prints are used by artists and art museums all over the world. At the Hong Kong Arts Collective all our fine art prints produced are giclée prints. It is worth mentioning though that just because a company provides art printing does not mean it is necessarily of giclée standard. You can check with them to see what ink, paper and printers they are using.


Fine art printing and giclée printing using a canon fine art printer in Hong Kong. Perfect for art and photography.

Understanding Archival Paper


There is a wide range of paper available for fine art printing. A key thing to look for is the word “archival”. There are fine art companies that offer fine art prints but if you don’t see the word “archival” then the print won’t last and it is not technically a giclée print. Archival paper is essentially acid free paper. In order to achieve this archival paper is often 100% cotton rag – another key thing to look for when considering producing fine art prints. In our research we've discovered a number of Hong Kong fine art printers offering archival printing services but using paper that is not acid-free and therefore not archival so we recommend researching your paper before you print. Hahnemuhle has a long reputation as an archival paper to the point that some people often think it is the only option. The reality is there are now lots of alternative giclée paper manufacturers achieving similar if not higher standards out there so we also recommend you explore other paper types and manufacturers.


Archival paper for fine art printing and giclée printing. Print art at the highest standard and best quality.

Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs) And The Danger Of “Bright” Paper


When choosing a paper it can be confusing to understand how white the paper will be. We generally find that paper with a brightness of 85% or over is white to the eye. Lower brightness papers can sometimes appear more cream coloured. In order to combat this some paper manufactures use a brightening agent to artificially dye the paper. They work by absorbing UV and emitting this energy in the blue wavelength to make the paper appear less cream / yellow. It is important to note here that OBAs are not permanent so although the print may be archival the paper will change colour over time to a slight cream / yellow colour. Any fine art paper that uses the word “bright” or “bright white” such as Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White will be using OBAs and we would advise you to consider alternatives if you are concerned about the paper colour possibly changing over time. We dedicated a section to OBAs as we have spoken to many artists who aren’t aware of them or their effects. There is also often a lack of upfront information from both paper suppliers and printers around the subject so we thought it was worth mentioning so you have a better understanding of what paper to look for. At the Hong Kong Arts Collective we purposefully don’t use any papers with OBAs.


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Rainbow Tse art prints

Dye Ink Versus Pigment Ink


All printers use either dye ink or pigment ink. Dye ink uses colour substances that are dissolved in a liquid while pigment ink uses small colour particles that are held in a suspension. A way to think if it is dye can be seen as sugar that dissolves in water and the pigments as sand mixed in water. Dye based ink often has a wider colour gamut and for this reason can sometimes appear brighter and more colourful however is far less durable than pigment based inks. Initial printing using dye and pigment based ink can initially look very similar but over time dye ink will fade. For this reason it is generally recommended that dye ink be used on products that will be consumed in less than a year. Pigment based ink has a much higher UV resistance and water resistance and is the preferred choice for giclée / fine art printing.


colour management of fine art printers in Hong Kong. Make sure to use pigment ink rather than dye based inks for archival art prints.

Photograph: courtesy Chaudigital


Colour Management


When producing work to be made into art prints it is important to understand colour management. Generally speaking most screens will display artwork differently according to your screen settings and screen backlight. In order to calibrate your work correctly its best to use a colorimeter or a spectrophotometer. These can be expensive though so a good alternative is to request your printer for a test print or a test strip to understand how the colours will look once printed. At the Hong Kong Arts Collective we can provide you with a free small test print. You can then make any necessary adjustments to your screen to match the test print and make edits to your image as necessary. A test print will also give you a good idea of what the paper looks and feels like.


colour management on a fine art printer. Get the best quality out of your fine art prints and giclée prints.

Hopefully this article gives you the basics of fine art printing now and gives you the confidence to explore the process further. If you’d like to know anything more about fine art printing or would like to get your own prints made you can contact us and we’d be more than happy to help.

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The Hong Kong Arts Collective

The Hong Kong Arts collective (HKARTS) was established in 2019 by local artists for local artists. It was created as an online artists village to support and promote artists living and working in Hong Kong. We offer exhibition opportunities, fine art printing, art consultations and our online shop supports both our artists and the wider community as a whole.

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