Frequently Asked Questions


We often get asked if we have any images to use in people paintings, so there is a gallery of backgrounds (see menu bar or 'click here').

The answer to questions regarding copyright issues also has its own menu page above.

There is also a page for splitting picture over several sections or combining images together.

Other FAQs are below

Click on one of the following topics

 

I need an order form?

Do your prices include delivery and VAT?

How long for delivery-Can I pick a day-What if it is urgent?

What if my product arrives damaged?

What if my delivered artwork is not what I expected?

Why are your prices higher than some high street outlets?

How will I get my original photos back?

Is it best to send original photos or scanned files?

How do I label files?

Do I have enough pixels?

What are pixels exactly?

What about sending big files?

How do you guarantee to match a colour?

Do you restore photographs?
What do you need to create a good montage?

What is the cost of a montage?

Can you do a whole comic strip story?

How do I hang my canvas?

What if I want several copies of the same picture?

How do I get my picture framed. Why don't you offer a framed product as standard?

Are my details secure with you?

Are you an environmentally friendly company?

Is it really 'Art' when you digitally manipulate a photo?

Why have a painting when I have a photograph?

 

 

I need an order form?

Nothing happens unless we get an order form. You can download an order form using the buttons here, at various places on the website and attached to various pdf files that your might download (e.g. our website summary). For printing and sending by post, a pdf is simplest. You can fill in the boxes on our pdf as soon as it apprears on your screen, or save it on your computer to fill in later. However if you fill the fields on a computer you need to print it there and then, you cannot save the filled in version (so print two, one to send, one to keep for your records). You can always print it blank and fill in by hand. The Word version can be saved, filled in on your computer and sent electronically on a CD, by e-mail or by 'Upload' to your account.




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Do your prices include delivery and VAT?

Unless stated differently, all prices (including guide prices on this website) include packaging and delivery. We do not currently charge VAT.
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How long for delivery; Can I pick a day; What if it is urgent?

Delivery times unfortunately depend on how busy we are and how complicated your order is. If you submit photos, we try to produce the first version within 2 weeks. After you commission a version and pay, we try to print within a week.

           
Unfortunately, someone has to be in to sign for your delivery. If not, some couriers will offer to redeliver one more time. After that you have to go and pick it up from their nearest depot. Our delivery price is for next day delivery (not including weekends), so if you give us your e-mail address we will inform you on the day it is sent and it should arrive the next day. If you have a delivery date in mind we can hold off sending until the day before, but you would have to let us know at the time you approve the order. If you need delivery on a Saturday, this may be possible, but will incur an extra charge, so ask before you approve and pay.

           
Whilst it is not possible to jump the queue we appreciate that paintings will often be given as a gift and required on a certain day. If we are not busy, we will try to accommodate this. If we are busy, then we may find staff willing to work overtime, but you will have to pay a surcharge usually of 50%. In both cases, you may have to forego our usual see-before-you-buy 'approval' stage.
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What if my product arrives damaged?

We go to great lengths to provide robust packaging. If the packaging is damaged, then get the courier to accept this fact on delivery. If possible always check the contents with the courier present (you may have to be persuasive !). If you do this and the contents are damaged, the courier company should return the package to us as undelivered at no charge to you. If you do not get the courier to return the damaged item, put the product back in the packaging and return it to us within 7 days (see Terms & Conditions for details). We will print another and redeliver as soon as we receive it. You will have to pay for the return post (cheapest/slowest is fine), but we will refund this. So please at the very least check your packaging condition on delivery and if it is damaged, make the courier wait until you check the contents.
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What if my delivered artwork is not what I expected?

As you always approve the picture before we print it, this should not happen. We are committed to having only satisfied customers. If you can show there has been some mistake and the product you receive is not what you ordered, we will be more than happy to replace it with the correct item. The law states you need to inform us within 24 hours of receipt and return in 7 days. We will refund the cost of your return up to a maximum of £20 and the item must be returned in the original packaging. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your order, in case of problems.


If you ordered/agreed proofs online and the colour is not what you expected, this may be due to the colour calibration on your computer monitor. This is obviously beyond our control, so if the final colour is very important, we suggest you ask for a proof in the post before ordering. If you just change your mind and want some changes, return the item in its original packaging and we will produce another version, often for only a small additional cost (30% extra plus re-delivery).

 

We do not offer a full return policy on made to order items, as these are obviously not resalable by us. For stock items from our gallery offered at a fixed size, you have a statutory right under the UK Distance Selling Regulations Act of 2000 to return items for a full refund if you inform us of your intention to return within 24 hours, and we receive the goods within 14 days (see Terms & Conditions for details)
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Why are your prices higher than some high street outlets?

This is simple, the quality of our product and service at Apple Fine Art is much higher. The product is hand finished in every detail and you are involved with getting a picture just the way you want it. You see before you buy. This level of quality and customer satisfaction is just not possible in the mass produced world of high street processors. Our inks can resist fading for generations (200 years) without expensive restoration. Many rival ‘giclee’ inkjet competitors only offer 75 years lightfastness, others offer no guarantee at all. Our product even has some advantages over traditional paintings, prints and photographs in the robustness and a lack of colour fading that can commonly ruin a photograph or a painting in acrylic, watercolour, pastels or even oils within 20 years. We also hand stretch the canvas over a warp-free laminated frame with corner wedges to guarantee a long life. Many rivals do not have corner wedges (important for maintaining a taut canvas) and use cheap wood for their frames. We also use several coats of hand painted varnish on our canvas, that brings out the full beauty of the inks and protects the finish from accidental damage and UV fading. Some of our competitors offer no protection at all. As the image is also saved and archived by us, we can reproduce the product if it is lost, damaged or if a replica is required.


This all takes time. For some people that just want an off-the-shelf-image printed onto canvas for short-term decoration of their home, cheaper products may be fine, but we think our customers want something better for such a personalized product. Also our quoted prices generally cover everything; some sites give a low price, but there are loads of unavoidable 'extras' like delivery added on after.
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How will I get my original photos back?

If you order a product we will return your photos with your artwork. If you need them sooner than this, or you decide not to order we will send them back by 2nd class mail. Unfortunately, we cannot be held responsible for any loss of your photos in the post. If they are precious to you we advise sending copies or scans, or use recorded delivery. If you send by recorded delivery, we will return them by the same method. In the unfortunate circumstance of your photos being lost during return posting, we may have the scans we have made and may be able to produce high quality copies for a small fee.
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Is it best to send original photos (or negative/slides) or scanned files?

General. This really depends on how good your scans are and what style of product you require. If you are happy to send originals, we have a very high quality scanner as well as sophisticated software to remove scratches and dust marks. This may lead to a better end product in some cases, especially if you want a detailed finish (or a photographic product). We can scan photos up to A4 (30 x 22 cm or 8.75" x 12")

           
If you scan yourself, a 5" x 7" photo scanned at 300 dpi (saved as high quality JPEG) will be sufficient for a limited range of sizes and style options, but if you can do 600 or even 1200 dpi, the options at larger sizes are increased. If your picture is 4" x 6" or less and you want a detailed finished product at A2 or bigger, we would suggest a minimum of 600 dpi, some scanners will not do this resolution and the files can be quite big for uploading or e-mailing. Although large product sizes of A1-A0 may turn out better with a higher resolution 1200 dpi scan, in general, people will look at these big products from some distance and the actual close up detail required is not the same as an A3 product that will be scrutinized from a couple of feet away. If you can make sure there is no dust on the photo or scanner, this will help. If there is a lot of dust, or your photo has scratches, this may limit the detail in your final painting unless we do some 'restoration' work. This is usually free, but in some cases might incur an extra charge. Scanning slides and negatives is also possible, but requires some expertise and special holders. If you know how to do this at 4800 dpi, that is fine, if not we recommend you let us do this. If done badly, we may need to spend some considerable time removing dust and scratches (more so than scanned photos). If this is the case an extra charge may be incurred.

 

Not sure? If all this talk of dpi is over your head, we suggest you send us your original prints or negatives, or go to a high street outlet (such as Jessops) and pay them to scan images for you and put the image on a CD to send to us. If the image is 5"x 7" or smaller ask for 600 dpi, at 10" x 8"  300 dpi will do. However, because the file is copied to a CD, the big files you get with 600 dpi, will be easy to send so go for this.

 

Really know what you are doing? For you experts out there, there is usually no point in spending time doing any colour correction or trying to match your computer screen to the print especially if your screen is not regularly colour calibrated. Just send an uncorrected image and unless you send some colour matching information, we will generally colour correct a photo to give a natural or restored look. In producing artwork, the colours are significantly altered anyway to give a vibrant 'painted' look.
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How do I label files?

Always use your name, including an initial and maybe some numbers if there are several files (for example R.Smith1.jpeg). These numbers can then be related to any instructions. We prefer .jpeg or .tiff files (contact us before sending any other format). If you have RAW files, we are happy to use these as long as they are in camera formats recognised by Photoshop CS3 Raw Converter (that is most cameras but it may occasionally take Adobe 6 months to come up with an update for a newly launched camera).
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Do I have enough pixels?

A complicated 'how-long-is-a-piece-of-string' question but the simple answer is almost certainly: NO if you want a photographic print the size of a typical painting (16" x 12"), but YES if you let us turn it into artwork. This is one of the main selling points of our service; we don't need as many pixels as a photograph to make a beautiful high quality image to hang in your home, so you can have it much bigger.

           
If you are sending digital images and you know the camera used, you can find the number of pixels on the camera somewhere. It will be a Megapixel number between 1 and 12 unless you have a more professional camera (these go to 24+ Megapixels). We prefer to get digital images from at least a 4 Megapixel camera (available on many phones), but with this the final product may be limited in size or the type of style and detail. 7-10 Megapixels is a common number for most point and shoot cameras these days. This will give a good range of painted style and size options. For 12 Megapixels and above we can even offer detailed photo prints on canvas at least to A1 size (up to 24" x 33") as well as a full range of painted options. If you want technical details read the next question.

 

Occasionally people send us very small images 100 x 100 pixels (files sizes of <10KB) they have captured off the web (be sure there are no copyright problems!). These are not really designed for printing at any decent size. Even with our 'Up-Resing' (see below) we struggle to use them. However, they can sometimes be successfully used as a base for a background that is very blurred, with a sharper foreground image as the main subject of the painting. If you are searching for background images (e.g. Google Images) look for sizes of 500x500 or bigger, if some of the detail is important, then greater than 1000x1000 is better (this is still only equivalent to a 1 Megapixel camera image). Remember, your computer screen has a dpi of ~100, so the size you see on screen would print at only 1/3 size at 300 dpi, However, we can Up-res to this screen size easily for photo quality and beyond for painted pictures and backgrounds.

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What are pixels exactly?

Obviously, the higher the pixel count the better the quality of the starting image or the bigger the picture of the same quality. But what does it mean?


Pixels are little dots of colour+shade that make up a picture. Your camera captures a fixed number of these, usually between 1 and 12 million (1 and 12 Megapixels) and then they eventually get printed as dots on paper. Most quality printers can put down 300 dots per inch (dpi) as they pass along (and down) the printer. There is little point in going better than this, as the human eye can't really see any finer than 250 dpi at a sensible viewing distance (20:20 vision is 250 dpi resolution for something held 14 inches away). Some  laser printers do text at 600 dpi, in case you read it held close to you face (as required for the small print on contracts!!). If your camera only captured 300 x 300 pixels, you could only print an image 1" X 1" at 300 dpi. However 3000 x 3000 pixels (9 Megapixels) would give a quality print of 10" x 10" and in reality, you might even get an 'good' print of 15" x 15". Scanning is like printing in reverse, so if you scan a 5" x 7" photo at 300 dpi, then the file will print fine at 300 dpi for a 5" x 7" copy, but you need a 600 dpi scan to print a double sized enlargement at 10" x 14".

For digitally manipulating an image, it is great to have loads of pixels as this is like the 'paint' that we move around with digital brushes and it is nice to have this detail if we need it (even if it is just to simulate the individual bristles in a brush stroke). If you don’t send us enough pixels, we can use sophisticated technology to add a load more and this is called Up-Resing (increasing the resolution). This can be done to some limited extent for photographic quality images before it starts to look odd, but is much more acceptable for paintings. For some styles (like Pop Art) we don't need as much detail, so lower pixel numbers are fine.

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What about sending big files?

We prefer JPEG, TIFF or RAW files (contact us before sending any other format). Most digital photo files we get are in a JPEG format (they have .jpg or .jpeg on the end of the file name) and are typically about 1 to 5MB in size. These can be e-mailed or sent by CD or Uploaded to your account. Scans can often produce files much bigger, and range from 1 to 100MB, as can Raw or Tiff files. If files are less than 10MB, you can quite easily upload these directly from your computer desktop using our FPT 'Upload' interface. If they are bigger contact us for a different method or send on a CD.


E-Mail. If your digital file size on you computer is less than 10MB, you can try to e-mail it. If you have several files to send, you may want to do several individual e-mails. However, this may take a long time depending on your internet connection (we do not recommend doing bigger than 1MB unless you have broadband).

In theory, if you have 8Meg Broadband the upload speed should be ~400KB/sec, and a 1000KB file (=1MB) file should take 2.5 sec to send and a 10MB file 25 sec. However, in practice it actually takes 30 sec to e-mail a 1MB attachment and 5 min for a 10MB file (which actually requires a surprising amount of patience).


CD or DVD. These can store 700MB and 2000-8000MB of data, so a CD is nearly always big enough for what people send us and is cheaper, but a DVD is fine if you prefer or have lots of high resolution images. You can even get special CD/DVD packaging at the post office (dont just drop it in a big envelope or it might get scratched!).


'Upload' FTP (File Transfer Protocol). If you register you can upload files up to 10MB each directly to your account on our server. You can also view them sitting there (see the 'How it Works' page). If you files are greater than 10MB or you don't have broadband of 2Meg or more you might want to use a CD rather than Upload or e-mail, but we have some other methods of transferring big files, so just ask.
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How do you guarantee to match a colour?

This can be done in several ways. If you are sending digital files, there is a good chance they will look different on your screen compared to ours. If colour is important, you could send a hard copy print that has the exact colour you want. This colour match image may not even be the same photo, but one with the correct colours represented somehow. Some people do this so we can recreate the colour of an animal's coat, if it is not quite right on the submitted photo. If you want to match furnishing and have a sample of material or wallpaper, send it. If you have some paint left over, paint a small bit of card. If you have access to a pantone colour library, you can tell us the spot colours.
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Do you restore photographs?

We can do this at three levels. Firstly there is the general colour correction/restoration and minor scratch removal. Secondly there is the filling in of big scratches and even tears. This involves making up bits of the picture and is easiest if there is little detail in the area, or it is a regular pattern (e.g. wallpaper or grass). Finally, there is damage across detail such as faces. This is highly skilled work and not always satisfactory when finished. We generally do the first level for free. The second level is free, if the photo is turned into a painting, but there is a charge (£15 min) if the end product is a photo. The third level (if possible) nearly always incurs a charge (£25 min) regardless of the end product.

restore photos
This ripped and badly creased photo from 1980 was taken at the auditions for the original Girls Aloud band (specifically the part of 'young redhead who can actually sing'). This ill fated concept was ahead of it's time and we had to wait for the Spice Girls before such strong female imagery became acceptable in society. This iconic treasure has been damaged by being constantly squabbled over by many devoted fans.  We have lovingly restored it to its former glory. However 'Nicola' is beyond restoration and is now a beer bellied male stripper in the London stage production of The Full Monty.

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What do you need to create a good montage?

We can produce a montage at any size you like, but we recommend you go for our standard size of A3 ( 2 x A4 or 30 x 42 cm). At this size we typically get 20-30 photos crammed in by editing and interlocking. With more than 40 photos, we often find faces/images become too small, a bit like printing your photos smaller than 4" x 6". However, fewer but bigger images can also look impressive. A typical alternative layout at A3 is to have a large central picture with say 15 smaller images around the outside. The main point of a montage is to cram as many images (usually faces) as possible into an area, by overlapping to cut out uninteresting space. This is an Interlocking Montage. If you just want your photos left as rectangles in a grid (Grid Montage) we can do this, but a lot of space is just wasted, so for instance we could only fit 9 4" x 6" images on an A3 sheet instead of 25.

           
If you want your photos arranged in some particular order (chronological ?) please indicate this clearly. Some people lay the picture out in approximately the correct order for the final montage, then take a picture to send as a reference. We can add striking titles or text to the montage if required. Note that if a montage involves pictures taken at school or for an organisation involved with children, there are certain legal requirements to be considered before ordering group photos. It is generally easier if the order is placed by a responsible (or officially delegated) person within that organisation.
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What is the cost of a montage?

To create a professional looking montage from a group of photos (often of variable quality) is actually quite complicated, and people are often surprised by the prices we charge (but they are excellent value compared to other suppliers). Unless you supply suitable digital images, we charge £25 for scanning up to 25 images, plus at least £25 for creating a montage from 25 photos to be printed at A3. However, you do get a digital copy of the individual images as scanned (or edited and restored), as well as a digital copy of the finished montage (on CD). This is in addition to your high quality print. One way our customers cover the cost for group photos is to order extra copies (£5* each for A3) and get several people to chip in more than this to cover the initial one off production charge. These montages are printed on very high quality, heavy-duty fine art photographic paper (same thickness as card), so they stand up to a certain amount of 'handling' and passing around!

* Note this is the price at the time of original order. Extra copies can be ordered at a later date but will incur some extra charge for postage.
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Can you do a whole comic strip story?

Yes, if you provide suitable photos and your ideas for text or storyline. It helps if the photos were all taken in similar conditions (all indoors or all sunny day etc) and the faces can be made to be a similar size. See example in the the Splits and Combinations page on menu bar above or ask for prices.
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How do I hang my canvas?

All fixings required to hang your canvas are included with your painting. This is an ingenious system specially designed to pull your canvas flat against the wall. Click here to see the instructions and illustration. If you require some unusual fixings, or a more traditional picture wire, just ask.
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What if I want several copies of the same picture?

For a canvas, any subsequent copies will be priced at a 40% discount with some adjustment if different sizes are required. For items printed on fine art paper, subsequent orders will be at a 50% discount, again with an adjustment for different sizes. If you require more than 5 extra copies, contact us for prices. See Splits & Combinations page (menu bar above) for details of price adjustments for complex multiple orders.

Note that we design our digital images for the size you initially tell us. Whilst it is possible to scale this size down, we cannot always scale it up much more than 10-20%. A larger size may involve some re-manipulation or even starting again. As a result the new larger size may incur a full price (but low end). It is NOT a good idea to get a small version to see if you like it and then buy a much larger version hoping for a big repeat order discount. If this is your plan, you should warn us during the initial commission.

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How do I get my picture framed- Why dont you offer a framed product as standard?

Canvas. The majority of our sales are on canvas that can be hung straight on a wall with no need for framing, as a result we do not offer a framing service. However, the canvas can be framed and this traditionally involves a moulded ornate frame as seen in many art galleries. This can be expensive to very expensive (£150-300) and so requires some careful consideration. We would recommend you view the frame moulding options at first hand before committing to a particular style. The frame also increases the size and weight of a canvas, which adds significantly to the shipping cost. In general we think it is best if you arrange for framing of a canvas at your local framer. However, if required, we can arrange to have a high quality frame added to your canvas before delivery at an extra cost (to cover framing and handling).

 

Fine Art Paper Prints. These paper sheets are obviously much easier to send through the post, either sandwiched between stiff sheets of board or rolled up in a tube, but they do need a nice frame to show them off. So why don't we offer this? The problem is sending glass through the post or even using a courier service. The larger the sheet of glass, the more likely it is to get broken and also damage the print. This is why we think it is better for you to take your picture to your local framer.

           
However, there is the option of buying a custom made frame from the internet to arrive at your house. The most expensive of these can include glass and are delivered by specialized delivery services, but the price is high. The more common and cheaper internet option is that the frames are delivered with a sheet of high quality acrylic plastic. These do tend to scratch easily, so we recommend that you take the plastic sheet to a local glazier and get a glass replacement cut to the same size before you assemble the frame (non-reflective glass is a good option). If you use www.eFrame.co.uk we can help you pick a frame and mount and even show you what it will look like with your picture in it before you order. We then give you the exact ordering information for your frame to be delivered to your house. If you have not done so before you may be surprised by the cost of custom made frames. However, a high quality frame matched to your painting and your decor, is well worth the expense. A badly matched frame with a painting crammed in, just looks awful. You should consider the price of a frame with lots of space around your print, when setting your budget (see eFrame.co.uk for a price estimate). Depending on the subject, a small print in a big frame with a surrounding mount, will usually look so much better than a large print crammed into a frame of slightly wrong proportions. For more modern styles, you may get away with a large A2 print going almost up to the frame (no mount), as long as the frame style is chosen carefully. We usually print paintings on fine art paper with a 1 inch border.

 

One final option is that you find a quality ready made frame that you like, measure the dimensions needed to fill the mount (send us the size of the 'hole' in the mount) and we will try to make your picture end up the correct dimensions. The problem with this is the dimensions may not suit the photo you send or the composition we create. There are always ways around this (you can get a new mount size made to fit in the frame), but it is a compromise and usually not as cheap an option as you first think!

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Are my details secure with you?

YES, very. See our full Privacy Policy in Terms & Conditions. Your details will not end up on a laptop or memory stick that gets left on a train or sold on ebay. We are registered data controllers under the Data Protection Act 1998 and abide by its guiding principles. Your information is stored in a secure way on a password and firewall protected, non-portable computer or server, with employee access on a need to know basis. Your information is only used by AFA. We do not pass your details to any third party except our secure, reputable courier services that deliver your goods and so require your address and telephone number. As permitted by The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 we may use your details to contact you a few times each year to remind you of our services and any special offers.

           
We do not even see your on-line payment details as you are redirected to the Paypal
secure payment page (nothing to do with our site) where you can pay by credit or debit card, or bank transfer. You do NOT need to be a Paypal member, but if you are, you can use your paypal account. Paypal use SSL with the highest commercially available security (128 bit encryption key). You will be redirected back to our site after payment is completed. We have no access to your payment information, other than the arrival of your payment into our account.

For your part we do require you keep your log-in details to your Apple Fine Art account secure (see Terms & Conditions for details).

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Are you an environmentally friendly company?

We try our best given that the quality of your product is paramount. Even when there is conflict, we resolve this is the most sensitive way we can. Our packaging is designed to be nearly all recyclable material (wood and cardboard). The beautiful mulberry paper your canvas is wrapped in is not only practical (very good low friction protection) but is derived from the bark of a tree, that grows back to be harvested again. So a sustainable resource. Our canvas stretcher frames are European Pine so no cutting down of tropical hardwood rain forests. We use water-based, rather than high solvent varnish, with responsible disposal of any minimal waste. Our first recycling compromise comes with our very high quality Vivera ink, although this is also much lower in solvent than many other printing systems (for a safer working environment). Also some of our canvas is not 100% pure cotton, and contains a few % polyester. However, this combination delivers a fade free life of 200+ years compared to 30 years for some photos, and even paintings, so we would hope the chances of recycling of our product are significantly reduced. All our canvas and fine art paper is acid neutral and free from bleach, although this is more for the archival properties, the environmental advantages being an added bonus. We cannot claim our vinyl labels and polycarb corner protectors are environmentally friendly, but are required to ensure prompt and secure delivery. However, the vinyl labels are designed to be easily removable for efficient recycling of the packaging or to encourage you to reuse it. We also use polycarbonate corner protectors for some size canvas products.

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Is it really 'Art' when you digitally manipulate a photo?

Well the first question would be; What is Art anyway?

And we can avoid answering this by quoting;

 

Art is perhaps the most inexplicable phenomenon of the human species. (Michael Leyton)

 

And avoid it further by more quotes;

The definition of art has changed almost every day since the first artist created the first work at least fifty thousand years ago... (Thomas Hoving)

and

After Warhol, only an art expert can define what is art and what is not. (NewYork art critic)

 

Or an article from 2005

Can a chimpanzee be an artist? This is the big question in the art world today. People are asking this because a chimpanzee’s paintings will be sold at a London auction next month. Congo the chimp painted abstract art. He became famous in the 1950s for producing 400 pictures. He even had his own exhibition at a top London gallery. Dr Desmond Morris, an animal expert, said Congo had a lot of creative talent. Dr Morris thought the chimpanzee was an “intense” artist who was “focused on what he was doing”.

           
Congo used vivid colors in his paintings, which were very popular with the British public. Britons went bananas over Congo and bought nearly all of his pictures. Even Pablo Picasso bought a Congo painting. He framed it and hung it on the wall of his studio. The auction will sell three Congos as well as works by Renoir and Andy Warhol. The chimp’s paintings are valued at around $1,500 each. However, because the news of this auction has spread around the world, they may sell for much more.


Chimp artCongo the chimp images

Did Congo do thousands of paintings and someone picked out the few that accidentally looked 'artistic'? You may or may not agree this is art, but it is certainly not the same as the random process of giving enough chimpanzees enough typewriters and enough time to come up with complete artistic works of Shakespeare. We could give enough chimpanzees, enough computers with graphic pads and they might eventually come up with a nice painting from your photograph...but you would have to wait! However, with Photoshop loaded on the computer, they might accidentally hit a magic button (artistic filter) and produce a painting in minutes. Some of our competitors appear to actually do this (maybe they even employ chimps to do it?). One look at these one-touch wonders will immediately show why digital manipulation can have a bad reputation.

           
Here at AppleFineArt we do not just hit a one-off magic button to give your picture an instant 'artistic look'. We do sometimes 'experiment' with these buttons, to rapidly try a range of styles and levels of detail that might work with your photograph. We get all sorts of photographs, so we don’t start with a blank canvas and what we do is dictated by your photograph. As a result we can’t just start painting to a preconceived formula that is 'our' style. We may also use 'magic button' painting tools to fill in selected areas, but this is done to build up 'layers' of texture. More important decisions involve colour and detail, composition and tone. These choices cannot be made by pressing buttons.
There are always a large number of steps involving various effects and manual manipulation (hand painting if you like). For the most common styles we spend most of our time brushing in detail by hand. One argument against digital painting is that traditional brushes and other such tools are not involved. The use of a graphics pad and pen is so close to traditional artist media that it is ludicrous to say it is not art just because it is electronic. It is just a tool like a traditional brush or a pencil. Many modern artists are embracing this technology.

           
There is a currently a certain amount of ‘snobbery’ amongst art buyers (less so with artists) regarding whether pressing computer buttons, or using an ‘electronic brush’ are really creating art. Some people often show great interest in a painting hanging in a gallery, until they are told how it was produced (gallery owners thus feel obliged to own up). These people are probably kicking themselves they did not buy an early 'Marilyn' silkscreen print by that man Warhol, just because he didn't do it with brushes. Most people who see your painting will think it has been produced by more traditional methods so they will be none the wiser (until you recommend us to them and point out how you are involved in promoting an advanced new art form!).

 

So the real question would be; Is it good Art or bad Art?

However, we like;

Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us. (Roy Adzak)

and

Art should create an experience. (Eric Fischl)

 

We would never claim to be producing historically important works of art, but we would claim that most of what we produce is generally competent and as 'good' as, or hopefully better than the photos they are based on. Whilst there is no doubt that the Mona Lisa may make the hairs on your neck stand up (the most come response is actually 'it's much smaller than I expected'), many would claim its value (reflected in its price) is in its importance to the evolution of Art in terms of composition and technique. So this is accepted as 'good' art, but this will not guarantee everyone will like it, because of differing tastes. What we are doing is just an artistic interpretation of your photograph in a style you like. You must have thought it was a good photograph to send it, so for you this half of the creative process is already 'good art'. We are adding another layer of creativity. It is like someone drawing a pleasing, accurate sketch and then someone else adjusting the composition and maybe the background, then adding the paint. Suprisingly, this collaborative way of creating art is more common than you would expect in the workshops of many classical painters. On the other hand, the majority of artists would be appalled to have the freedom of their blank canvas removed and replaced with the straight jacket of a pre-composed image. They would say what we do can only at best be 'competent' but not really creative in their eyes.

           
In practical terms, whilst many people would like to have a ‘work of art’ to adorn their home and some may choose a £1million collectable as an investment or to make some sort of statement, the majority of people want something to live with and their main requirement is to feel some pride and an emotional attachment when they see it everyday. We turn your personally selected image (or combination of several) into something you will be proud to show off, but will also have a more personal and emotional attachment. It may be worth a million pounds to you. To get such a bespoke product as ours would traditionally involve sitting in front of an artist, which is time consuming and expensive. Even if the artist paints from a photograph, the final interpretation and product may still disappoint, a fact that is clear from viewing the inaccurate examples used to promote certain websites that offer this service. From a skilled artist with their own style, it might even be 'good art' but you might hate it. We use your photo as a 'sketch' or starting point and add something extra. This 'sketch' helps ensure some accuracy to give a good likeness of someone we never meet, but you will recognise. With our service, you will feel involved with the whole creative process, and you are already intimately involved in this artistic collaboration if you just took the photograph. This will all add to its 'value' to you. We think this is ALL GOOD.

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Why have a painting when I have a photograph?

This is one of our greatest selling points but is quite subtle. We can turn a small 6 x 4 inch (or even a 4 Megapixel) photo of dubious quality into a fabulous work of art of on a scale of A3 to over A0 (4’ wide). Just enlarging a digital or scanned photograph to this size would create a fuzzy or blocky/pixelated mess. This is assisted by the fact that the detail required for most painterly techniques is far less than a photograph, particularly towards an impressionistic or pop art style. This is a difficult concept to get across as most people would never even consider having such a large photo on their wall, and the advantages can only really be fully appreciated when standing in front of the finished product.

 

For many people another major attraction of our products will be our ability to recompose a photographic image. We can combine two images to reunite two people, remove someone, change a background to be some special place or just improve the composition. So we can 'capture a moment' that only happened in your imagination. With a photographic end product, this requires considerable time and skill to look realistic, and more often than not, will fail to work at all (close matching is just not good enough). With a painting there is far more room for artistic interpretation and production of something successful from the images supplied.

 

Finally, the difference in people's response to a photo and a painting is as difficult to explain as the difference between art and not art. In some ways, our paintings-from-photographs sit in between the two and have the advantages of both. Many photographs are categorised as 'art' or 'fine art' whilst others are not and their value is more illustrative. At the extremes it is obvious to most people, that photo A can be recognised as an opportunist snap shot taken to record a birthday party and 'capture a moment', whilst 'arty' photo B of mist over a lake shows the photographer's deliberate attempt to convey more than just factual information, but a mood or emotion that requires a considered response. This may just be a response such as 'I like that' or 'I don’t'. For the birthday snap, whether you 'like it or not' is not the point, it is a record of an event. However, in between the extremes is a minefield. Some paintings are made to record events, are they art or illustration? Some photojournalism records events that are stunning or evocative and stir an emotion. Is that art?

           
It has also been suggested, that because an arranged collection of blobs of paint are not as 'easy to see' as a photorealistic image, we get some subconscious satisfaction from our minds working harder, or from having more freedom to make our own interpretation. This may explain the popularity of impressionistic (blurred?) works of Monet or the dotty (low dpi) work of Seurat. A painting also helps in reducing an image to its more basic elements of shape, composition, tone and colour. These are important things that a non-artist may not even think about, but our mind still makes a subconscious judgement on this. Then we could consider what the mind does with abstract art. But let's not.

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