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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, and Epson’s Cold Press paper (from their Signature Worthy line of fine-art papers).

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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201 Comments

  •    Reply

    thanks Tara, I’m currently doing T shirts and mugs for merchandise but thanks to this article I’m moving into prints, keyrings and magnets also. Loving the work, I do cats also as part of a animals & creatures range- Facebook Frank Art. Please look me up and add :)

  •    Reply

    Hi, Tara! I was wondering if you spray any sort of fixitives to seal your prints?

    Great article!
    Amber

    •    Reply

      Hi Amber,

      When I first started selling prints, I sprayed them because I worried about smudges and stuff. However, I do not spray them anymore. If I let them “cure” for a couple of days, they hold up really well to normal handling… especially since I keep them in acid-free cellophane sleeves until the buyer frames them. :)

  •    Reply
    Christina Anderson August 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Is there a special type of paper that you use when you print or is it just normal copy paper?

    •    Reply

      Hi Christina,

      I use Epson’s Cold Press papers for my prints, and Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation paper for the rest of my merchandise (greeting cards, bookmarks, etc.)

      You can purchase both at http://www.adorama.com/ The Cold Press paper includes free shipping. :)

  •    Reply

    Hello Tara Fly. Thank you for your info on selling prints. After about 30 years I decided to paint again. Only this time on wood. That’s why I call myself a wood canvas artist where the canvas becomes part of the art. My first attempt of wood painting was painting a CAT for my sister.
    You can see it here … https://woodcanvasartist.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/cat/ . I thought I would share it with you since you love cats so much. All the best. Kevin

    •    Reply

      Hi Kevin,

      I love hearing stories about people rediscovering art! Your cat painting is very nice. :)
      You know, it’s funny that someone mentioned your kitty’s “creepy eyes”, because I hear the same thing about my cat portraits ~ “They are creepy! Those eyes!” Haha!

      Good luck on your art journey!

  •    Reply

    Thank you so much for the information on your process. I am a mixed media artist, but do not know amything about printing. I have been intimidated about the process and you have made it sound totally doable!
    Kathy

  •    Reply

    I am sharing an e-mail I received yesterday:

    “I was searching for some articles about printing artwork and came across this page on your site.
    Great stuff! Love that last image with the cat in a tuxedo. Very well done.

    I just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know that I created something that might support that article.

    This would be coming from the perspective of a professional printer. I think that the tips are different that what you have already posted, but could be a different resource for your readers:

    “Why Sign Shops Should Not Print Your Wall Art”

    Might be worth a mention on your page. Either way, do keep up the great work!
    Regards,
    Eric Von Lehmden”

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