In the marketplace there are plenty of providers of photo prints that you can order online – but genuine specialists are few and far between. The Vienna-based print studio, Salon Iris, gets going at the point where most online providers reach their limits in terms of quality.
Print has always had something to do with quality awareness. That’s why some online print providers already offer non-standard ink prints, extra-large formats, premium substrates and as well as more and more job printing finishing options for particularly demanding customers. The objective is always the same – to increase the perceived value of the print product even more and therefore take its look and feel to another level. There are also various target audiences in the photo print segment – and they too have different quality expectations. Some, who “just” take photos with their smartphones, are satisfied with a standard glossy photobook. That’s fine too, but not for customers that want their hi-res photos on exceptional, to some extent gallery-compatible substrates. That’s a job for specialists, like fine art studio, Salon Iris, which was founded in Vienna. With the platform only having been launched very recently at the end of 2017, I took a closer look at the website of this print studio for the discerning.
I recently reported on the evolution of and some major players in the lucrative online photo print business here at beyond-print – and anybody who knows me is also well aware of my particular interest in niche providers. What strikes you when you first see the Vienna-based print studio’s store is that the focus is not on digitally printing images on “any old substrate” – the production methods and the product portfolio are evidently designed to cater instead for semi-professional and professional buyers. So the target audience is clearly defined, just by the prices alone. This mid-sized fine art business was established in 1996, although owner Stefan Fiedler has more than 20 years of experience and won several accolades in the high-end segment. And you can tell that the studio has been around since the beginning of the high-end digital print era from the name of the company, “Iris”, which is derived from one of the earliest high-end output inkjet print systems.
“If you look at the choice of products and the corresponding prices for photo prints that you can order online, you soon realize that this is the high-end segment. And Salon Iris is an established major player in this segment.” – Bernd Zipper
Regular customers from the D/A/CH region like photographers, art publishers and gallery owners, who to date have ordered the Vienna-based photo lab’s high-quality products offline, are now increasingly making use of a neatly designed print store. As far as usability is concerned, the store, including configurator, ticks all the right boxes – there is never a lack of clarity and the click paths are short. Buyers of online print products are only used to that where the simplest print products without – to put it delicately – any particular quality standards are involved. All products therefore feature useful descriptions of how to handle print data, color profiles etc. in order to achieve perfect results. The fine art approach, which is normally reserved for paper-based substrates, characterizes the store, production and the portfolio – irrespective of whether direct-to-substrate print on different board materials, art and designer wallpapers or digital print on glass are involved.
Once the product has been selected, the format, finishing and optional extras like, for example, cut-outs for plugs in large printed glass panels of the kind used in designer kitchens, can be straightforwardly configured. And if you can’t take any hi-res pics yourself, you can use the attached image database, which provides motifs ranging from city skylines to nature photos. In terms of formats, customers are as good as never restricted, which is why I really like one option – the specific width configuration option for each side of the paper margin or unprinted board margin.
In future Stefan Fiedler and his team want to make online ordering of high-quality photo prints accessible to an even wider customer base. I have been told that Salon Iris is definitely interested in partnerships and investments in this lucrative line of business in order to increase market penetration even more in the meantime. As far as online presence is concerned, we can expect a load more from the Vienna-based (s)print specialists.
My take: in my opinion a thoroughly effective online showcase that offers everything a photographer’ and artist’s heart desires – wide choice of products, freely definable formats and professional advice to ensure that ordering and production are hitch-free. Anybody who is familiar with the Vienna studio appreciates the particular charm that this combination of offline and online business exudes. And it’s always great to see that the concept of quality in the print business is alive and well despite the mass market. And that’s why I will continue to look at niche providers and specials that are available online. So stay tuned – it’s worth it!