How do people go about finding a fine art print shop to document a collaboration by way of a reproduction? How does one know what to ask or tell the printer?

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can you just go to a place like kinkos or some other copy shop and tell them what you want and ask how to do it? depending on what you are doing it doesn't seem that different than what people do for making zines. so if you went in and said you wanted to have a small booklet made  from your work - maybe they'd be able to help you figure out what would work best for you? i've never done it myself - aside from having a book(not one i wrote) printed from a pdf file - and that didn't really have any illustrations in it.

Good suggestion, William. Seems like a great place to start. Thanks for answering, and being a mailart treasure.

If it's work that is 8.5 x 11" or approx A4 size and can fit on a scanner I take it to a FedEx Office (like William M also advised!) or local office printing place that has copying services and ask to have it scanned at 600dpi, have them send me the file or put it on a USB drive. I generally just make the print there, if I'm not worried about it being archival, and choose a paper that feels sturdy and that I like. There are usually lots of good options and the people are generally willing to do a test print on papers of different colors/finishes/weights as well. As far as the archival thing goes- if you aren't at a place that explicitly does fine art prints don't even bother asking the question. Ask for the printer model number and the type of ink they use and then look it up online yourself. Especially if you live in a more small-town area like me the people will just be confused. 

In short, know these things before you go in:

  • black and white or color?
  • what size do you want the final print to be?
  • does it need to be archival?
  • does it need to be printed on a particular weight of paper? Cover stock? 

Things to ask the people working there:

  • How much do you charge for test prints?
  • Can you help me scan at a high resolution, ideally 600dpi or 600ppi? (if they can't, 300 is enough!)
  • What are the different paper choices you can print on in the size I am looking for?

Good luck and have fun!!!

Thank you, SaraMarie, for taking the time to write this excellent orientation on finding a print shop. I'm so happy you knew the drill. Asking for the printer model number and type of ink the shop uses, then looking them up, is such a clever idea. It will allow me to 'scout' the local places. Your lists of questions are the perfect rubric, too. Now maybe I won't annoy all parties, lol. Thanks, again!

Yay! I'm so glad it was helpful!

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