Ancient and Modern, Christies unites the two in its international publishing operation
Founded in 1766, Christie’s is one of the world’s foremost auction houses, with 85 offices in 43 countries around the world. Its focus is on selling works of art that were created through the centuries and its publishing team does its part using very latest technology.
The company holds over 600 auctions every year,featuring everything from ?ne and decorative arts, to jewellery, photographs, memorabilia and more. A key component to a successful auction lies in the production of quality support materials in the form of publicity materials, photography and, of course, the auction catalogue.
“We produce a catalogue to support every Christie’s auction”, says Neil Mc-Cutcheon, Head of Catalogue Production. “A catalogue can run to anything from 80 up to 800 pages, with an average page count of about 180. With more than 600 catalogues a year, that equates to more than 80,000 pages each year with a total print run of over two million catalogues.”
During the peak season, Neil’s team could be producing up to 25 catalogues per week. Christie’s employs more than 30 people at its two pre-media hubs in New York and London that, together, produce almost all of the catalogues for Christie’s auctions worldwide. In addition, Christie’s have recently launched an online ‘e-catalogue’ initiative, designed to support the print-based version.
Every item sold at Christie’s is photographed digitally in-house by Christie’s team of photographers. In fact, ‘Christie’s Images’ is a separate picture library company, creating more than 200,000 unique quality, high resolution images every year.
With quality, ease-of-use and high-productivity at the core of the requirements for an automated system to generate press-quality, colour-managed PDF files, a comprehensive TWIST – based system was deployed first in Christie’s New York facility, before being replicated in the London location. “We decided to invest in TWIST because our previous system was proving to be too costly and ultimately failed to address the changing needs of the business. We needed a flexible, scalable system that could grow with us and that, together with our asset management and other allied systems, could form the base of a modern publishing platform that would serve our needs for the future,” explains Neil.
Together with its TWIST systems, Christie’s implemented Xinet’s WebNative digital asset management (DAM) system, using GroupLogic’s MassTransit managed file transfer system to reliably handle file distribution. DALIM SOFTWARE integration partners Turning Point Innovation (in London) and IO Integration (in the USA) worked closely together with each other, as well as with Christie’s, for this unique transatlantic system deployment.
A key requirement for the system was the accurate handling of colour. “As you can imagine, considering our business and the products that are up for auction, accurate colour rendition is of paramount importance. Our core business is very specialist and it is important that we can illustrate the full impact of the “tactile artifacts” of a piece in the printed catalogue.” As a result, Christies works to the ISO standard and produces TWIST-generated PDF files according to the FOGRA 39 colour space specification. “Our computer monitors are colour-calibrated and rechecked(and recalibrated, if necessary) on a weekly basis”, Neil adds. All catalogue printing is currently handled by a number of key UK-based printing companies, before being shipped out around the world.
Neil enthuses about the new system. “The differences between the DALIM SOFTWARE-based system and our previous system couldn’t be greater. Jobs are now produced much faster, meaning that production deadlines can be pushed farther than ever. The reliability of the system has been excellent, and the quality of the colourmanaged PDF files that we produce, whether here in London or over in our New York facility, have been of a consistently high standard.”
As a commercial investment, Neil has no reservations in recommending the system. “We have seen considerable savings – both in terms of better use of staff and outsourced services, as well as reduced errors and greatly increased productivity. In ROI terms, we comfortably covered our investment in less than the scheduled two years. However, much more importantly, we see the system evolving further to become the base of a platform of services that will enable Christie’s to reach out and better serve our clients – both buyers and sellers – going forward.”