Where can I get this NSFW-ish image printed as a poster?
August 4, 2017 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I want this public domain image printed as a poster and have hit a few snags in trying to accomplish this. Help?

This is my favorite painting of all time and I have always wanted it for my home. I finally have the perfect place for it, as well as the perfect frame.

The piece is available on a few popular poster sites, but I wanted to explore alternatives because the reviews RE: quality are hit and miss and their color levels for this particular piece never look right to me (returns are reportedly a hassle).

Also, the size I want (approx. 60" x 40"), is pretty expensive on those sites (and the dimensions I need for my frame aren't available anyway--I could buy their framing but then it gets REAL expensive).

I called one local independent print shop, sent the image and the specs of what I wanted, and they said, "Sounds good, we can get this done today". I got a call back a few hours later and the person said their printer was broken and they couldn't tell me when it would be fixed. Hmm, OK.

So I reluctantly called FedEx/Kinko's, explained what I wanted, and they said it was doable. But after I sent the guy the image, he called me and said, sounding sort of weird, "We can't print this". He didn't say why, and I was too distracted to ask so I just thanked him and hung up.

I thought about it, and wondered if the first place didn't want to print it either, and just made up a printer "problem". Maybe because it's a picture with a bare-breasted woman? (It's not even a real woman with realistic-looking breasts! It's practically a cartoon!) Or maybe someone may have said, "Hey that's a famous painting--there must be a copyright", but the site I found it on had it labeled as public domain.

So I suppose my question is two-fold:

1) Are print shops--even in my urban, fairly liberal area--really this uptight, or am I reading too much into these two failed attempts?

2) Any ideas for reasonably priced printers--online or otherwise--where I could send them this high-resolution image and get it printed with the (custom-but-not-unrealistic) dimensions I need?

Thanks in advance.
posted by lovableiago to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
But after I sent the guy the image, he called me and said, sounding sort of weird, "We can't print this". He didn't say why, and I was too distracted to ask so I just thanked him and hung up.


Nekkid woman. That's a huge red flag for a lot of printers who aren't specifically fine art printers. Surprisingly, there are people out there who would see this print as pornography, and the last thing Kinkos wants is someone raising a stink about them printing "pornography." I know it sounds silly, but it's just the way it is.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on August 4, 2017


Nah, it's just too small. There is not enough information for the print size you want. I don't know why they didn't tell you that straight up.
posted by mumimor at 1:05 PM on August 4, 2017 [5 favorites]


The work is at MoMA, so you might want to call their store and see if they have the work as a poster or if they do print-on-demand at multiple sizes. Many museums do, but I'm not sure if they do. The quality would be good.
posted by PussKillian at 1:09 PM on August 4, 2017 [9 favorites]


It might not be the subject matter, it could be "famous painting, must be under copyright by the museum". I know you said it's public domain but they might not be convinced that the museum doesn't still have some rights to it.

(On preview) But it could also be the resolution like mumimor says.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think it could be any or all of the above. I agree with mumimor that none of the resolutions available at the page you link would look right at 40x60 but I've always found FedEx/Kinkos type places more than willing to make crappy-looking prints if you send them something at the wrong resolution, so I don't think that's necessarily the reason. Could be that the guy suspects it's under copyright and can't be bothered to check. Could be the nudity.
posted by mskyle at 1:12 PM on August 4, 2017


Nah, it's just too small. There is not enough information for the print size you want.

Even if you sent them the 4500x3035px version, that's what, ~75dpi at 60"x40"? I wouldn't go below 150.
posted by zamboni at 1:13 PM on August 4, 2017


Printing anything so that it looks non-crappy needs a pixel density around 300dpi. That equates to an image file 18,000 pixels wide.

The image you linked (the zoomed version) is only 4,500 pixels wide, i.e. it's a quarter of the resolution you need. No self-respecting printer would print that file bigger than 15" wide.

You need a 200+ megapixel image of that painting to be able to get it printed at the size you want, basically.
posted by pipeski at 1:13 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I've been in the Fedex guy's position before. He was probably just playing it safe because he had no idea of knowing what the provenance of the art was, copyright-wise (and he wasn't about to take your word for it). Also what Thorzdad said.

You're likely to get better results/understanding from a higher-end print shop, although it'll cost more.

The resolution is fine. The full-rez image is 4500x3000 pixels, which is 150 dpi at 20x30" poster size.
posted by neckro23 at 1:14 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


Argh, so it sounds like it was a matter of content (puritans!) and resolution. I think I may be forced to return my current frame and turn to the big online poster guys, taking my chances on the colors.

Can anyone speak to their experience using big sites like art.com, allposters, and icanvas? Is one better than the others? Do any of them have more flexible return policies if the customer is less than satisfied? Maybe an alternative, lesser-known site I may not be aware of?
posted by lovableiago at 1:42 PM on August 4, 2017


The resolution is fine. The full-rez image is 4500x3000 pixels, which is 150 dpi at 20x30" poster size.

But the OP said: "the size I want (approx. 60" x 40")"

And sadly, the MoMA store only hast two Rousseau items at the moment, a book (titled The Dream, with that painting on the cover) and The Sleeping Gypsy ... magnet.


Can anyone speak to their experience using big sites like art.com, allposters, and icanvas? Is one better than the other? Do any of them have more flexible return policies if the customer is less than satisfied?

I recently purchased some posters from Allposters, and they look pretty good to me. They often have 40%+ off sales, and they have discounts for folks who sign up for their email list. I don't have any experience with art.com or icanvas.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:46 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


And, actually, I just looked at my notes again: I do NOT need a print that big. I actually need one about 25x17. I had 60x40 written down because when I did the math on the resolution, I determined that that was as big as it could go at 75 DPI...so if I needed it much smaller at 300 DPI, I figured I should be fine. (Sorry for not better vetting my own dang question, gah!)
posted by lovableiago at 1:48 PM on August 4, 2017


I would be shocked if you get better quality from Kinkos than you do from allposters or whatever.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:27 PM on August 4, 2017


I know you say you want a poster and aren't too keen on purchasing from the poster stores that you have reviewed, but what about this cotton canvas from Wayfair.com? It comes in various sizes and the customer reviews seem good.
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 5:56 PM on August 4, 2017


My wife has ordered a few prints from art.com, and they've definitely been good quality (heavy giclee prints, not what I would call "posters"). They have it here:.
posted by jferg at 9:06 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you really are looking for high quality, look for someone that offers giclee prints. It's worth the money for the color saturation (and it'll last longer).

Kinko's will end up looking only marginally better than your home photo printer.
posted by cfraenkel at 9:32 PM on August 4, 2017


And, actually, I just looked at my notes again: I do NOT need a print that big. I actually need one about 25x17.

Have you left room for the matting?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:16 AM on August 5, 2017


Having worked at a copy shop before, I suspect that in order the reasons they might not print it are:
  1. They suspect that it is under copyright. This is a HUGE deal, and the people that work at copy shops have heard every excuse in the book for why we should let them copy professionally-taken photos that they don't own (usually stuff from portrait studios). Unless you've got good proof of it's public-domain-ness, they're not going to want to touch it. Also, keep in mind that the original work may be public domain, but the photograph of it does not necessarily have to be, and copy shops will tend to err on the side of caution.
  2. Naked people - this is largely dependent on the specific staff of the shop you're talking to, but employees can have grounds to file a sexual harassment lawsuit if they were forced to copy material like that against their will.
  3. Resolution - this is a big maybe; they might warn you about resolution issues, but this is a customer-knows-best sort of scenario, and I wouldn't expect strong pushback against this if you were insistent. And they'd tell you explicitly that that's the problem, because it's feasibly fixable if you have a better source file.
  4. Issues with the large-format equipment - they tend to have more that can go wrong with them, so it's not unheard of that it'd keep them from taking a job.

posted by Aleyn at 2:26 AM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]


Check with the local college or university, specifically, their library. Our library makes large-size prints and will do so for private individuals, too. Being a library, they're more likely to understand the legal difference between a painting that may/may not be under copyright and an image of the painting that is in the public domain.
posted by Lunaloon at 1:52 PM on August 5, 2017


I've had great experiences with https://www.levelframes.com/ for high quality image printing online.
posted by beisny at 1:59 PM on August 5, 2017


Have you left room for the matting?

DarlingBri - Yes, this is the size I would need after taking the matting into consideration. The frame itself is larger.
posted by lovableiago at 2:54 PM on August 5, 2017


this is the size I would need after taking the matting into consideration.

The 32x24 print is 29.5" x 20" without border so you could buy that, take it to the framers, and they can mat it into your frame. The custom cut mat is not expensive.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:37 PM on August 5, 2017


You can try 1000museums.com. Their image scans/photos are apparently sourced directly from museums or other collections. They've got The Dream. An image size of about 23" x 15.5" will run you $79. Can be returned if you're not happy with it.
posted by Kabanos at 2:10 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


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