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BubbleTagging for Certification





How does a buyer of a digital print ensure it’s an authentic and certified reproduction?
One way is for an artist to have that print and image certified through a system such as HP’s new ArtTrust. Unveiled at the PhotoPlus Expo in late 2009, ArtTrust is a self-certification system developed in conjunction with the French company Prooftag, allowing artists to provide a certified identity to any digital fine-art print produced on an HP Designjet Z-series printer using HP Vivera pigment inks. And Prooftag has set up a similar system—ArtTag—for non-HP prints, too.

The ArtTrust system, which has been endorsed by Wilhelm Imaging Research, integrates a set of stickers containing BubbleTags. Produced by Prooftag (, a BubbleTag is composed of a translucent polymer in which a set of air bubbles is randomly self-generated. These bubbles form the core of the identity of a print: Each tag has a unique personal number with a datamatrix code and is recorded on a database.

Here’s how it works:
• Artists register on the ArtTrust website
( Once registered, artists receive a personal card with an embedded BubbleTag. Print service providers, media vendors, and HP printer resellers can generate similar cards.
• Artists purchase tag sets either on the ArtTrust website or through their print service provider. For the
ArtTrust system, artists must create their prints on an HP Professional Photo Printer. As noted above, for prints done with other printers, C-prints, or any other reproduction technique, artists can take advantage of a similar system using BubbleTags on
• Once a print is ready to be sold and a certificate or other documentation is produced, the artist places the three ArtTrust Tags on each item. He then goes into his personal area of the website and writes the number of the one tag placed on the artwork, which will automatically document the two other tags by displaying their numbers. An image of the two first tags then becomes visible on the website; the third one is only visible to the photographer/artist. For each print, some information is required or available, including: the type of HP printer used and its serial number; the paper/media used; and the longevity “rating” by Wilhelm Imaging Research of the print in three display-permanence categories (200+ years, 60+ years, or unknown if the media has not been tested by Wilhelm).
• Any prospective buyer is able to access the website and search in the gallery. Once a specific print has been found, the buyer can visually check that the ArtTrust Tag placed on this print and/or on the attached certificate or documentation is the same as the one displayed on the screen, to ensure authenticity.



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