The installation page of the website is one of our most popular. When a new installation shows up in our inbox it provides the opportunity to see my artwork through the eyes of a designer. Displayed on this page are examples of a recent installation at the All Saints Cancer Center in Racine, WI. These images that can go BIG! MDC is the fabricator of the wall covering and the client is Lynn Jensen of Eppstein Uhen Architects. When working with large images one should consider the following:
5 Key Components of Working with Images for Big Print
Designers often ask us for advice on what to look for when selecting photographs to go “big”, which we consider prints that are more than 6-feet wide. To make it easy we’ve rated the maximum size for each image on the site. To see the rating look to the right of the image. You will see “Max Width” followed by the number of inches (anything from 36 to 360-inches). That number is the maximum size that the image can be enlarged.
To determine the maximum size, I enlarged each image as far as I thought it could go.
Other things to consider when picking images to be printed very big:
1. Viewing Distance
How close will the viewer be to the print? The farther you are from a picture, the easier it is to go “big”. With an average viewing distance of 10-feet, many images will work fine. If the viewing distance is 10-inches, it will be much harder to get an image that looks good.
2. Subject Detail
Images with a lot of fine detail are harder to enlarge than images without fine detail. For example, because forest landscapes have many fine leaves and branches that are hard to enlarge. On the other hand, a close up of a tulip flower has very few details and should look good printed “big”.
3. Print Media
Textured surfaces such as canvas or etched glass tolerate enlargement well. Slick surfaces show more artifact. Matte surfaces such as vinyl tolerate enlargement better than a glossy surface.
4. Audience Taste
Many viewers are not bothered by some blurriness. In contrast, photographers, art consultants, and designers are trained to look for issues. Often professionals will examine a print a couple inches away to look for problems (this is referred to as pixel peeping). Try to see the print through your viewer’s eyes; will it bother them?
5. Camera type
Images from film cameras have more difficulty being enlarged because of film grain: with enlargement, the graininess can be quite distracting. Digital cameras don’t have film grain. Resolution also matters; images from higher megapixel cameras or from large-format film cameras are much easier to enlarge.
Getting a sample print of a piece of the full-size print can help. Beware of how you look at it. Don’t hold it in your hands like you are looking at a picture in a magazine. Put the sample on the wall and look at if from a typical viewing distance.
What to know how to photograph installations? Here’s a post I wrote a few years back: How to Photograph Art Installations.