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How Do I Make Prints of My Artwork?

This is a question I typically get asked by other artists looking to sell reproduction prints of their own art… and also by a few customers who are amazed at the amount of “stuff” that I sell, in addition to original paintings.

To be honest, I’m always amazed to learn that not every artist reproduces their work to sell. Many artists still don’t have their own websites, or sell paintings directly to their customers either.

I didn’t know anything about being a professional artist, or how to sell art, when I started sharing my paintings online… first through Deviantart and then on Etsy. I took for granted the vast demand for reproduction prints, as not everyone can afford to buy the original painting they love!

TaraFly Cat Art Prints

I knew that selling prints was the way to go, and I sought guidance from other artists who were successfully reproducing their artwork.
I learned that collectors were looking for quality reproductions, and I chose to invent money in a professional grade Epson printer that uses archival pigment inks.

My printer is an Epson Stylus Photo R2880. When I first purchased it in 2009, the printer’s retail value was around $1,400. Epson has released several newer models in the Stylus line, and mine has been discontinued, but you can find R2880 printers listed on eBay and Amazon for $400-800 (used + new), which makes them much more affordable to replace if necessary.

Dominic checking out my Epson printer

For now, my Epson Artisan 730 All-in-One printer serves as a scanner, although I’d love to get a large flat-bed at some point for big canvas paintings, as it’s tedious having to stitch multiple scans together in Photoshop. :P

How I Make Prints

EPson R2880 printing TaraFly cat art

I scan my canvas paintings at 600 dpi, which allows me to offer enlarged sizes, like 11″x14″ and 16″x20″, from a painting which measures 8″x10″.
My printer can actually handle paper up to 19″ wide, but I haven’t printed anything that big yet.

I’ve known people who scanned their work at 1,200 dpi or more; they could make enormous billboard-sized prints! LOL Unfortunately, my poor computer can’t handle working with huge files.

My 8″x10″ artwork scanned at 600 dpi translates into a 16″x20″ print at 300 dpi… and 300 dpi is the quality standard for printing, although printing labs will accept files as low as 150 dpi, so I can technically print even larger than that.

Once I’ve scanned my work, and saved the original scan as “the master copy”, I use Photoshop to adjust the levels a bit, because my acrylic paints occasionally reflect the scanner’s light… especially black, which turns dark grey. I’ll also remove unwanted blemishes, such as dust particles, scratches in the paint, brush hairs, and stray pencil lines.
(Note: Scan your work BEFORE varnishing or sealing your canvas, to eliminate the headache of dealing with the varnish’s reflective glare).

I re-save my corrected file as my Master-Edit, and then proceed to crop the artwork into various standard print sizes: 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 11″x14″, etc… as well as odd sizes for merchandise templates, like my 2″x5″ bookmarks.

From there, it’s just a matter of printing them as I receive online orders… or printing in bulk quantities to stock up for craft shows.

TaraFlyArt Kimono Cat Painting

My Kimono Cat painting as a matted 11×14 print, key-chain, and art magnet.


I have been really satisfied with the quality of prints that my Epson printer produces. In fact, I recently experimented with the quality of a professional photo lab, which came highly recommended by Etsy artists… by ordering a few of their fine-art prints to compare with my own.
And I couldn’t tell the difference! Their prints turned out great, but so did mine. ;)

I could save myself some time and out-source my work, but I enjoy being involved in the process from start to finish.
I create my art, I scan my art, and I reproduce my art…. in a continuous cycle.
My reproductions are as high-quality as you can expect from a professional, and they were born right in my studio alongside my acrylic paintings.

So whether you purchase an original work of art from me, or one of my reproduction prints, know that it has passed directly from my hands to yours. =^,,^=

TaraFly printing cat artwork


Previous Question: “How Long Does It Take To Paint a Cat Portrait?”
Next Question: “Which Types of Ink and Papers Do I Use?”
(Back to the FAQ)

Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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152 Comments

  •    Reply

    I’m glad you mentioned working with Deviantart. I actually just finished a commissioned piece from there that’s rather large (36×60) and have the pdf of the print to find a place to print it off nicely. Do you suggest any sites that could handle this best while maintaining the integrity of the art quality? I was thinking maybe Michaels but wondered if there was a better alternative DA users may prefer.

    •    Reply

      Hi Clint,

      There are several labs that specialize in large prints. I think I’ve already mentioned http://adoramapix.com in the comments; they offer photo prints, photo mounting, and wrapped canvas options. I am *not* affiliated with Adorama, but I do order my papers through their supply website, and have used their print services, so I can vouch for their quality. I have also used http://iprintfromhome.com with nice results.

      If you intend to print the image at full-size (36″x60″), just be aware that most photo labs don’t offer prints that large by default. You would need to e-mail them and ask for a quote. Also, you will likely spend a couple hundred dollars (at least) for a quality canvas print. You might be able to get a poster print for less. ;)

      I have a Deviantart gallery, but I haven’t tested their printing services, although many artists do sell prints directly from DA. I have never used Michael’s to print photos, and sadly cannot give any first-hand recommendations for any other printing companies, because I decided to invest in my own printer very early in my career.

      Good luck!

      •    Reply

        Thanks Tara. I was referred by the DA user to poster prints but I was worried it could diminish the quality of his work. I’ll have a look at the two you mentioned. I did notice a lot of the services commented about on Etsy were giving quotes of several hundred dollars as you mentioned as well.

  •    Reply

    Thank You Tara for that wonderful insight on printing your artwork I am a young artist I’ve only been creating Art sense the age of 14, I am now 45 I was recently visiting Michaels to get my work framed and the framer ask me how do I feel about making copies of my work, (like every artist I know )we all are sensitive about our craft. I didn’t have an answer for her right away but after giving it much thought I figure it couldn’t be that bad. I’m flirting with the idea of making copies of my work and selling it on street corners shouldn’t be that hard to do I have taken some criticism some constructive and otherwise.

    •    Reply

      Hi Moses,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my blog, and letting me know that is has been useful to you!

      I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you begin selling your work. People love meeting artists in person; they will give you invaluable feedback and perhaps inspire you as well! Congratulations on the next step, and may your creative journey be long and rewarding! :)

  •    Reply
    Ophelia Mitchell January 12, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    What paper do you use to print your beautiful work on?

    •    Reply

      Hi Ophelia,

      I am using Epson’s Cold Press Bright for my fine art prints, and Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation paper for my other merchandise (greeting cards, bookmarks, magnet inserts, etc…).

      There are so many wonderful papers to choose from! I personally like using textured papers for my archival prints, because it mimics the surface of the original paintings. :)

  •    Reply

    Thank you for this post! I have been considering purchasing my own printer, but for the time being ordered prints from iprintfromhome.com. They came out wonderful, but I do have one question. The file name was printed on the back of the print– is this something buyers will mind? I read elsewhere on their website afterward that they can simply remove the file name if you email them ahead of time, which is an easy fix! I just wonder if it will deter from the print itself, even if it is on the back?

    •    Reply

      Hi Steph,

      Good point! You know what? I forgot about that! It has been awhile since I ordered anything from iprintfromhome. I do know that Adoramapix prints their information on the back, too.
      If you can get them to remove it ahead of time, I would suggest doing that, because it’s unnecessary.

      I doubt your buyers will mind. They might not even notice, but it would bother me as the artist. I will sign, date, and title my prints on the back, and I wouldn’t want any other printed information conflicting with that. One of my artist friends uses address labels printed with her website information, to stick on the back of her prints. Maybe you can do something similar to cover the prints you already have? :)

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara,

    Ah! This made my dream future seem possible, thank you so much!
    I’m in the market for the new Epson surecolor P600, but as you know ink is so darn expensive.
    Do you exclusively use Epson inks in your printer? Or can you recommend a less expensive brand that is good quality pigment ink?

    Thanks so much!

    •    Reply

      Hi Hannah,

      I’ve heard great reviews about the Epson Surecolor. I think it’s a good investment! :)

      Personally, I use genuine Epson inks in my printers. I don’t want to take any chances with off-brands.
      There are people who swear by continuous ink systems, or buying recently expired cartridges, comparable brands, etc… but I’ve also heard a few horror stories, from artists I personally know & respect, who have had their printers destroyed, because they tried to cut corners to save money.

      Also, you will encounter difficulties with Epson technicians, when you call to get assistance for your printer’s issues, if you’ve been using another brand. “Have you been using Genuine Epson inks?” is literally the FIRST question they ask you! :P

      Regarding the expense, I look at it this way. Purchasing archival quality “Giclee” prints from a reputable lab, anywhere, will cost the same amount, if not more, than it costs to print at home! I factor in the costs of my ink and paper when pricing my work for sale. :)

      On the practical side, don’t go overboard with printing until you have an idea of how well your prints will sell. Aim for printing one image per day, or a few per week, to keep the ink from getting clogged. Build up your inventory gradually for shows, or print on demand when you receive an online order.

      I return the used cartridges to Staples or Office Max for recycling credits towards future ink purchases. If you buy a lot of ink, and can return 10-20 cartridges per month, those credits will help! :)
      Additionally, “ink and paper” can be written off as an office supply/business expense on your taxes.

      Rather than seeing your ink as a drain on your budget, see it as a quality investment into your end product. It’s the same argument artists make for buying expensive Daniel Smith watercolors and Prismacolor pencils.

      In the end, make customers aware of your materials, and that your ink costs more than the cheap stuff they use! ;)

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