Artproof - printed art
An art printing company Artproof was established in 2007 when three good friends decided to try out as entrepreneurs and opened a printing house named Aprint, which later was changed to Artprint. None of the founders had any previous experience in the field, rather they decided to get engaged with something that seemed exciting. The first high-quality printer was purchased with the support of EAS, a start-up grant that several other printing companies have used. But not all of them have had an ambition to expand and to start export.
The learning process developed step by step, along with the client. Starting as a traditional printing house with a plan to offer services to all customers, the company quite soon refocused on a targeted segment - the photographers. They were convinced from the start that they are able to provide better product, better quality and better service. When a photographer needs printing service, it often means a full range of services including options to choose materials and technologies, the possibility to participate in the printing process, various framing options, transportation. The complete service is expensive, but the result of photographer’s work is art and art is expensive. Artproof is the market developer in Estonia and the neighboring countries. They have introduced the market with solutions such as photo kapa, photo canvas, acrylic photo and implemented a transparent pricing. With all that Artproof has become a leading authority in art printing in Estonia. Entering the export markets In foreign markets, of which first came Finland, the door opener was foremost a direct call to the customer. Narrow client segmentation, pursuing high quality in products and services, clear message, professional supply made the clients to listen and to buy. Operating in such market, price is important but not ruling – you have to provide the best service for a reasonable price, then gradually also the number of customers increases. Artproof believes that the key factors for implementing their ambitious objectives in new markets are definitely thinking two steps ahead and commitment to customer service. Although the company has clients all over the world, they consider it rational to focus only on few, most perspective markets at a time. Artproof’s broader targets are Scandinavia and Central Europe. It is necessary, however, to take account of the location of Estonia. If the photographer wants to participate in the photo printing process, then getting on spot each time may become too complicated and timeconsuming. As the biggest challenge in foreign markets the company considers to be winning the trust of customers and creating reliability, especially if you operate in such niche market, where the main purpose is to provide long-lasting values, luxury and quality. To ensure reliability the company must continuously improve also its technology. One of the latest investments was Diasec license, which provides a particular quality guarantee and is valued for a specific process finishing the print with acrylic glass. There are approximately 10 Diasec license holders in the world and Artproof holds the exclusive rights in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland.
Customer orientation and focusing on core values Already at the beginning it was decided to never say "no" to the customer and always try to find a solution. Client is the king and there are no compromises. "The main goal in production is perfection, the customers will receive only the products that we value highly ourselves" describes company's attitude Eero Valge, one of the founders and shareholders. High standards have been set to products and customer service, which meet the quality requirements of international galleries and museums. For helping to follow the standards, Artproof has established the so-called garage rules - "the clearly articulated values which are displayed on the office wall, and we always try to follow them". Some examples of the rules: - We always keep our promises, deadlines are sacred to us; - We value our team and provide the best working conditions; - We are innovative and sustainable One of the important values is also introducing and promoting photographic art to general public. Already for fourth year Artproof organizes photo contest by offering a yearly grant for a young photography artist.
Visual image Understanding "if we do things well, we also need to look good" led to collaboration with design studio Brand Manual, who got involved in the development process in 2010. The role of the design office has been asking the right questions, reflecting the external image, creating reliability. If your client is an artist and your service is image finishing and design, the service provider must impress from the first moment and through every channel. It would not be appropriate to enter such market with a logo scratched by a friend and self-made web. Whole visual identity, website, that works as a business card, as well as the presentable production house, packaging style and other visual forms with their little details create trust and favourable conditions to attract the client and make them return. Brand Manual helped to create Artproof brand for entering the foreign markets, build the web, and is regularly involved in designing various minor visual details. Inspiring work environment and great people Company that started with 40 m2 of space and one employee, has now become a dedicated art printing laboratory, located in Telliskivi Creative City with approximately 800m2 spaces, combining an office, photo lab, framing workshop and warehouse. Total number of staff at the moment is 16. The company says their employees are the biggest fans of Artproof, they believe in what they do every day and love to work here. Being successful means keeping up to date with your industry. Consistent introduction of yourself, presence in exhibitions and participation at trade fairs, keeping up with new trends, constant development of services – all this is a result of passionate day-to-day work, still run by the same three friends who started the company and are equal shareholders also today. Artproof is continuously developing and growing. Turnover in 2013 was € 613 000, and around € 800 000 is expected for current year, of which export is at least 80%. According to the company turnover has grown over the years as an average of 20-30% per year, the main source for growth has been export.