Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why Choose Poster Mountain for your Restoration Work?

This question of what distinguishes Poster Mountain has been one of the driving forces behind writing this blog. We have demonstrated our skills and range of expertise through these posts, but have not directly addressed the issue of cost and in particular why you should pay a little bit more for our services. 

 We think of our restoration rate as the price of doing it right the first time. We are often asked to fix pieces that have been poorly restored by other, more “affordable” conservators. The process of re-doing it ends up costing you, the client, several times what is necessary. In this field, you truly do get what you pay for. All our restoration is done by hand by professionals with many years of experience. Our ethic involves the shortest path from A to B, but we do not cut corners, ever. We want you to do it right the first time so that you don’t wind up with a headache and an empty wallet.

Pictured: This is an example of cutting corners in restoration work and a piece that was brought to us to fix previous restoration work done by someone else. Poster Mountain fills in the holes with vintage paper or a compound before we put color in. Unlike this piece where color has been painted in the holes and you can still clearly see them.
Pictured: Gabe, John and Melissa discussing budget and approach to a Mucha poster.

After a budget is determined and a piece reaches the restoration stage, the first step in our particular method is “prep” work. The amount of time that we put into prep is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our work’s caliber. “Prep” includes burnishing (flattening with pressure) fold lines and other small bumps in the paper as well as patching the larger holes with vintage paper and the smaller ones with a filling compound. While our brand of prep is often time consuming, it allows the restoration to blend seamlessly and disappear. (For a more detailed explanation about our prep work you can read this blog post: Harvey Girls Three Sheet Restoration .)

Pictured: Me working on "prep" for a Harvey Girls three sheet.

Pictured: Not only do we glue in paper patches, but we spend a lot of time trimming those patches down so that the restoration goes over the patch seamlessly.

Masking and airbrushing are usually the next step in restoration. Masking involves covering precisely defined parts of the poster so that we can airbrush the uncovered areas.

Pictured: This is an example of an intricate masking job during the final stages of airbrushing. Aaron was lifting the mask just a bit to check his color match.

Pictured: These are the old masks from a previous job. Once they have been removed from the poster they can not be reused.

Airbrushing gives a uniform look for larger areas because it uses a fine paint spray that can be blended out and applied as lightly or as heavily as desired. If you want your poster to look perfect, airbrushing is the way to go. (For more information on airbrushing please see these posts about a 1939 Worlds Fair Poster  or the restoration of a Flaming Lips poster ).

Pictured: This poster started out ripped in half and the best way to cover that damage was to airbrush the entire sphere.

Pictured: Aaron checking his work after completely blending over the prep work. This is a perfect example of how airbrushing gives a uniform look.

Many clients prefer not to have any airbrushing performed and we are always happy to accommodate that as well. Because of the time needed to mask and airbrush, in order to keep the cost down or simply because the client wants minimal restoration work, some pieces go straight to detailing. In detail we use watercolor and watercolor pencils to fill in smaller or more detailed areas that have ink or image missing. (For more information on detail, please see these posts: Mucha Restoration and Black Pirate Restoration )

Pictured: Melissa detailing a Mucha poster using watercolor pencils.

Pictured: Katie bringing this poster back to life in detail.

Good restoration should always be invisible. One of the greatest compliments we can receive is “WOW! I can’t see a thing.” As you might imagine, this often leads to confusion with prices. If the customer can’t see the work, it seems as though we’ve done nothing. When you look at art, you should see what the artist intended you to see. When art has become a damaged object, you focus on the damage, not the original message. When you look at a Maltese Falcon poster and Humphrey’s nose has been torn out, your attention is drawn away from the image, away from the movie, and toward speculation as to whose attic that thing’s been festering in. This is the crux of restoration work, to bring a piece that has been wrecked back to life so that it can be enjoyed again. (Click on this link to see some of our favorite restoration pieces before and after)

Below is an example of the virtuosity and skill of our restoration team. Melissa added two large missing heads to a window card for the movie The Black Cat with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This kind of work can really only be achieved by a professional artist, and this is the kind of skill that goes into all our restoration.

Our responsibility for your piece does not end when we finish restoration work. We also take extreme care when we are shipping the finished product back to you. (Crating Fine Art  and Shipping Fine Art)

Pictured: These are our standard shipping tubes, made from PVC tubing and plastic end caps. We never ship using cardboard tubes.

Pictured: This was a handmade crate that we built to ship a piece of fine art. We do not usually go to this extreme, but we do take shipping very seriously.

One of our defining characteristics is constant innovation. John leads us in this mindset. If there is no existing method to address a problem, he will invent one. (See posts Part 1 and Part 2) Since every piece that comes through our doors has led a different life, it is only natural that we constantly invent new methods to deal with new problems. Believe it or not, this is a rare and progressive philosophy in the world of conservation. Even when it is more financially prudent to turn an unusual project away, we almost always take it on in the interest of learning for future projects.

We have strong relationships with our clients. This means you, whether you are a museum, a gallery, a collector, or a person with one messed up poster. We are flexible in that we serve large establishments with large numbers of posters and short deadlines, as well as the individual with an individual poster and specialized needs.

Pictured: John discussing a client's poster. The client was in England looking at a high resolution photograph from our database while John was discussing it with him.

Our staff is made up of specialists. Every person is an expert in their field, and we believe in the assembly-line method of work, rather than the jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none method. This means that everyone cooperates to work on every piece. You are not just getting the brain power of one person, but of several working together. We leave our egos at the door, we listen to each other, and we listen to you. 

Over the following weeks we will put up blog posts that will hopefully bring a little more transparency to what we do and make it even clearer why Poster Mountain has the reputation that we do and why it is worthwhile to pay for the peace of mind and quality that we offer. 

Below is a list of our basic prices, but as we have tried to stress each piece has individual issues that will need to be addressed and we will work with you to come up with a personalized estimate. For mount only pieces that do not need any restoration Poster Mountain uses special pricing that is competitive with other conservation studios. (This information can also be seen on our website)

Linen Backing
One Sheet (27x41)
Three Sheet (41x81)
Six Sheet (81x81)
Twenty-four Sheet
French One Panel (47x63)
French Two Panel (63x94)
Italian One Panel (39x55)
Italian Two Panel (55x79)
British Quad (30x40)
Small Sizes
Paper Backing
One Sheet
Small Sizes

Conservation Services
Dry Tissue Repair
Humidification and Flattening
Gelatin Resizing

Restoration & Other Services

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