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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. But I took for granted the vast demand for reproduction prints (as not everyone can afford to buy the original painting they love!).

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 retailed around $1,400 a few years ago… but it has depreciated a bit, and can be purchased for about $550 now, which makes it much more affordable to replace if necessary.

For now, my all-in-one $99 office printer serves as a scanner, although I’d love to get a flat-bed at some point for larger pieces…. as it’s tedious having to stitch multiple scans together in Photoshop.

How I Make Prints

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 grey).
I’ll also remove unwanted blemishes, such as dust particles, scratches in the paint, and stray pencil lines.

I re-save my file as my Master-Edit, and then proceed to crop the artwork into various print sizes: 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 11″x14″, etc… Additionally, I’ll crop them into (2″x5″) bookmarks, cut round and oval circles from them (to use for my wooden plaques), and also paste them into my greeting card templates.

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.


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. =^,,^=

16 Comments

  •    Reply

    What kind of paper do you print on?

    •    Reply

      Hi Skip!

      I currently use two brands of Epson paper for printing my artwork:

      All of my fine-art reproductions are done using Epson’s Signature Worthy Cold Press cotton rag paper, because I fell in love with the heavyweight, textured feeling that reminded me of watercolor paper.

      And I use Epson’s Ultra Premium Presentation Matte (photo) paper for everything else; including greeting cards, bookmarks, and magnet & keychain inserts.

      I’ve tried several brands of cardstock for my greeting cards, but keep coming back to Epson’s line. I wish they paid me for referrals! ;D

      Thanks for asking!

  •    Reply

    Hi I am just curious as to how wide you have gone with your printer I know that the width varies all the way to bulletin size which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. I am a beginning artist and am just curious as to what sizes of prints tend to sell the most. I was looking at the different widths of printers and was quite overwhelmed.

    •    Reply

      Hi Carolyn!

      My printer can print up to 13-inches using the sheet loader (yes, you can buy huge sheets of paper!) … and it prints up to 17-inches wide using canvas or paper rolls, which are attached and fed through the back. I haven’t purchased anything on rolls, because they are priced out of my current budget. ;)

      I typically sell 5″x7″ and 8″x10″ prints, due to their low cost. I’ve also sold 11″x14″ prints on occasion.
      There is a market for larger, poster-sized pieces *if* they are cheap enough. People are accustomed to getting 16″x20″ posters for $20 or less from Big Box stores, but I can’t afford to price mine that low… I’m not a factory! Grrrr. LOL

      So I’ve been tempted to use an online photo processing lab to get “poster prints” made for upcoming shows. I’m still on the fence about it.

      If you can afford an archival printer (and the older models will set you back $300-500… check eBay!) , the majority of them are wide-format and will give you the option to print a variety of sizes. Either way, you should be okay with 8″x10″ and smaller for starters.

      **It might help to find a reputable lab (for emergencies) or just in case someone wants a larger print made.

      I would recommend http://adoramapix.com for photo prints. I’ve also recently tested http://iprintfromhome.com and liked their quality. Their prices are comparable to my costs to print, but the “flukes” will waste their materials and not mine. And yes, there will be flukes. Many, in fact. ;)

      Several years ago, before purchasing my own printer, I ordered canvas prints from http://thegicleefactory.com (They are based in Canada, so if you’re in the US, be prepared to wait 2+ weeks for delivery). I really liked their watercolor paper also.

      Good luck! I know how daunting your search is, and fortunately I had artists friends who encouraged me to splurge on the Epson. I’m glad that I did. :)

  •    Reply

    Hello
    May I ask which Epson printer you use? I am looking for one for my pictures

    •    Reply

      Hi Freddy,

      I’m using an Epson Stylus Photo R2880 that I purchased several years ago, but they are much more affordable now. :)

      I like that my printer can handle thicker papers ~ my favorite paper is 340 gm. And it accepts large sheets; I currently print on 13″x19″ sheets, but it can take up to 17″ wide. Of course, archival quality was important to me as well.
      I’ve heard Canon makes nice pigment ink printers, too. So in the end, it’s about your personal brand preference. :)

  •    Reply

    Hi I wanted to know if you knew any places in the tri state area that can take my original artwork print it to different sized canvas?

    •    Reply

      Hi Brielle,

      I haven’t personally worked with any local printers, so I cannot give a recommendation (unfortunately). If you do a Google search for professional labs in your area, the results should point you in the right direction.

      I Googled “professional artwork scanning near Baltimore, MD” and found several professional companies which will scan and print artwork, including ArchivalArts.com and FullCirclePhoto.com

      If you are looking for just a professional lab to make canvas prints or gallery wraps, try Googling “pro photo lab near [your area]” …. I found TechLabPhoto in Baltimore, NationsPhotoLab and ArtsyCouture in Cockeysville, MD.

      Good luck!

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara, Thanks so much for all the info. I am looking at getting prints made of my calligraphy and lettering pieces and I’m having a hard time trying to decide where to order from online. I noticed that iprintfromhome.com offers photo prints or giclee, but the giclee is so expensive and I’m not sure if I need that for just lettering prints. What kind of paper are the photo prints on? Would it be a good option? Thanks again.

    •    Reply

      Hi Courtney,

      Giclee (i.e. “archival”) prints are pretty expensive, because they use museum grade materials that will last 200+ years. ;)

      Photo prints can be done on various papers: glossy, lustre, matte, even metallic, pearl, or “linen”. It’s just a faux linen texture, but it still looks pretty neat. :)
      The quality is comparable to getting photo prints made at a photo lab, like Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Kinkos, etc. Look for labs offering known brands like Kodak paper, and you should be satisfied with the results.

      I think photo prints would be a great option if you are just starting out, and using a fancy paper (like linen or metallic) would add charm and character to a calligraphy print. :)

      Good luck!

  •    Reply

    Love your work. Thank you so much for explaining this as I am just starting my printing journey. So far I have only sold originals but can now see the worth in going down these other lines. Hugs and blessings, Elizabeth xo

    •    Reply

      Hi Elizabeth,

      The worth is priceless! Even if someone doesn’t want to sell copies of their paintings, having a high-res scan of each piece allows them to hold onto it forever! There are a few paintings that I would be loathe to sell, save for the fact that I can re-print them whenever I want. ;)
      Scanning at a high resolution will capture all the detailed brushstrokes, the surface texture, etc. And printing onto canvas or textured watercolor paper truly does make it look and feel like an original work of art.

      Your artwork is lovely and cheerful, by the way! I favorited this geisha girl with aqua hair. She is perfect!
      Good luck with making reproduction prints! :)

  •    Reply

    What do you recommend if the original is a 16 x 20 and I would like just a few prints.

    •    Reply

      Hi Charlotte,

      I’m not quite sure what you are asking… Are you interested in making prints of your own artwork? Or did you see a painting of mine that you’d like to buy as a print?

      If the artwork is your own, there are professional labs that will scan the piece and make prints for you. I recently spoke with an artist who had her artwork scanned at Staples (I didn’t even know they scanned art!) and copies were made so that she could sell them at shows.

      If you want to purchase prints of my artwork, you may check out my Etsy shop, or contact me with your request.
      Hope that answered your question! :)

  •    Reply

    Hello Tara,
    A quick question… How do you set your prices for both originals and prints?

    •    Reply

      Hi Larry,

      For originals, I determine price by setting an hourly wage x how many hours on average that paintings of a certain size take to complete. I also consider what my loyal customers are willing to pay.

      For prints, I used my material costs x 2 = wholesale price (and also bulk discount quantity). I double my wholesale price for retail sales, so that my prices are equal to those of gift-shops selling my prints… because stores generally do not appreciate artists underselling them. ;)

      Pricing is always a tricky thing to get right, and mine will vary depending on whether I’m selling online or at a live show (where I need to make a certain amount to cover expenses) … I’m always interested in learning how other artists set their prices. :)

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