Painting Cats in Clothes Inspired by Literature

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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?”
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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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  •    Reply

    Wondering if you sell your art for a living or just for fun. It recently occured to me I could sell my artwork. I’ve been reading every article I come across looking for tips. I found yours to be very helpful. I will need to invest in a proper printer! Thanks!

    •    Reply

      Hi Rose,

      I began selling my artwork as a side business six years ago, and it has been my full-time job since August 2013. :)

      I would definitely encourage you to open an Etsy shop, or apply to a few shows, to see if selling artwork is something you would enjoy doing. :)

      It can be really stressful running a business from scratch, but it is also very rewarding… unlike most day jobs. Ha! ;)

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara! ADORE your work and had a pair of quick questions– my works are almost entirely acrylic and watercolor, and I have been looking into getting an Epson Stylus 2200, but haven’t really seen much on their quality for watercolor reproductions. Do you have any knowledge of the model? I’ve found some on craigslist in the 200-300 range but didn’t want to invest if they were only good for photographic prints..

    Second, I was going to try out iprintfromhome in the meantime to be sure the printer commitment is worthwhile, but was overwhelmed by the number of different paper options. Since you have ordered prints from them before, do you have a sense of which paper might be best for watercolor reproductions? I love the idea of textured paper to really mimic the original watercolor, but I worry I won’t get great ink coverage or it will come out splotchy– I guess I don’t know how high quality the printing is these days :)

    •    Reply

      Hi Caitlin,

      The Epson R2200 is the predecessor of mine, and it is a very reliable model (I’ve been told)… so if you find a deal on one, hopefully refurbished or in good condition, go for it!

      The paper you choose will be very important. Unless you want “photographic” prints, avoid glossy papers or “photo black ink”. You have the option to use either “photo black” or “matte black” ink. Use the matte black for your reproductions.

      While Epson usually markets their printers towards pro photographers, fine artists love Epson printers, too! They make very nice reproductions of paintings, and using textured rag paper would be the perfect fit for your work!

      It doesn’t come out splotchy or anything. The texture isn’t too bumpy or difficult to print on.

      Epson archival printers use pigment ink anyway, which is heavier than regular ink-jet dye ink, so it doesn’t “fall into the cracks” of the textured paper. I’m sure you will love it!
      You can always order a few prints to test it out. :)

      Have fun and happy printing!

  •    Reply


    I just wanted to comment on how wonderful of an artist you are and how thankful I am to have stumbled upon your page from Google! I was inspired to pick up watercolor painting and calligraphy this past summer. I just have not dedicated the time, energy and money to begin. My biggest excuse was not knowing how/where to print. Your replies to questions on your website were beyond helpful and extremely thoughtful.
    I’ve never seen someone put so much caring effort into answering questions.
    One question just did come to mind — How did you go about copyrighting your work / company for your artwork?

    Thank you so much!

    – Christiana

    •    Reply

      Also, how do you cut your own prints?
      And can you make adjustments on the printer or on photoshop to the artwork?
      (Such as if a painting is not exactly centered and I wanted to remove or add 1/2 inch on a side?)

      •    Reply

        I cut my prints using scissors. Hehe I’ve also used a paper trimmer. ;)

        All my adjustments are made in Photoshop, but there are also free photo editing programs available online that will do basic cropping, resizing, etc.

        Hope that helps! :)

    •    Reply

      Hi Christiana,

      Thank you for the compliments on my artwork! <3

      Obviously, the best way to copyright your artwork is through the US Copyright Office. You can even upload several pieces in a batch. :) I would suggest that route if you believe your artwork is in any danger of being appropriated by another artist/company, where legal action is the only way to recover your work.

      Fortunately, so far, the only violations I’ve come across have been small independent artists/vendors lacking the resources to fight in court, so a simple Cease & Desist letter (and in some cases, just a firm e-mail) scared them into removing my images.

      There are entire blogs written about copyrights. There is a well-written article on explaining the benefits of filing your work.

      Quoting the article:
      “With prior registration, the burden of proof is on the infringer to demonstrate that they created their work either before or independently of your creating yours. Without prior registration, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you created the work first, and that they willfully appropriated it for their own purposes without your consent.”

      When you’re starting out, the easiest and cheapest way to “copyright” your work is simply by publishing it with your name attributed to it. Posting your artwork on your social media accounts provides you with a time-stamp proving you were in possession of the piece at that time. When you sell your artwork on Etsy, for example, you also have the proof of sale accompanying photographs of your art. You can refer back to these if someone tries to claim your work in the future. :)

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