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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


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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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222 Comments

  •    Reply
    Farokh Damania March 18, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Hi Tara Fly, I was just curious to know: How much would I (or if I may ask, how much do you) earn if I actually started selling my originals as well as their prints on my own website? Any round up figure would do, as I just want a general idea.

    Thanks

    •    Reply

      Hi Farokh,

      How much would you earn by selling originals on your website? I’m afraid there is no clear answer to that question, because there are so many variables: how long you’ve been working as an artist, how many paintings you have sold in the past & for how much, how large your audience is, whether you currently sell at shows or in galleries….

      If you asked 10 artists, “How much do you make selling originals and prints?”, you would get 10 wildly different figures.

      I can say with confidence that if you are just starting out in your career, you won’t earn very much, because it takes *time* to build an audience and gain credibility. People who make high-ticket art purchases online need to have some type of connection to you; they need to trust you and want to invest in you. If you already have collectors, it will be easier to convince them to shop on your website, than trying to sell art to strangers.

      My sales (both originals and prints) are a mix between direct sales off my website, online auctions (Facebook & eBay), and in-person sales at festivals and events. I’ve never considered looking at *just* my website sales, because each area impacts the others.

      There is definitely money to be made selling artwork online, but I am reluctant to encourage anyone at the beginning of their journey to *only* focus on money… because it won’t happen overnight, or even within the first year. A successful artist acquaintance of mine recently admitted that, in her first recorded year selling her artwork, she only made $360. For the entire year! She has been selling her work for 15 years now, and has managed to earn a 6-figure income. Of course, she is special. Not everyone will be as lucky, but persistance is key. ;)

      Focus on building a network, finding people to support you and appreciate your artwork, and test the waters – build a website, list your artwork for sale, sign up for a local art show, join a art collective or co-op. The money will come, but focus on your art first. :)

      Good luck!

  •    Reply

    Fabulous post! I found it very informative!

    I was curious to know if you had updated your printer and/or scanner? If so, what did you upgrade too? If not, if you were to upgrade them what would be on your “wishlist”?

    Thank you!

    •    Reply

      Hi Stormy,

      I am still using my Epson Stylus Photo R2880 for archival prints, and the Epson Artisan 730 for everything else! :)

      I purchased the R2880 in 2009, and the Artisan in 2011. They have both been reliable printers so far.

      Eventually, I will be forced to upgrade, and I already have the Epson SureColor P600 on my wishlist. It has very similar specs to the R2880, and isn’t as wildly expensive as most wide-format printers: it’s under $1,000! LOL!

    •    Reply

      Oh, I didn’t mean to ignore your question about scanners, but I haven’t found the perfect scanner yet! LOL

      Finding a scanner that will reproduce artwork flawlessly is like locating The Holy Grail. In artist circles, we are always comparing and griping over our scanners’ limitations ~ the lip on the edge that prevents artwork from lying flat, or distorted colors that require editing in Photoshop (mine has difficulty reading shades of yellows and purples).

      We are just waiting for someone to rave about a particular scanner, and we shall all run out immediately and purchase it! :D

  •    Reply
    Leticia Gonzales February 10, 2017 at 1:11 am

    I don’t have much money but will like to make prints of few of my art …Don’t know how to do it is on my fb the pictures I painted but sold most of them but did not make prints and will like to try at least two of them. Where do I go from here. thank you

    •    Reply

      Hi Leticia,

      Thank you for reading my blog post. :)

      I understand the desire to make prints of paintings you’ve already sold, especially if people really enjoy them. Whether or not your Facebook pictures would make good prints is something to consider….

      How were the images taken? Are they good, clear images ~ evenly lit and in focus? Were they scanned, or photographed with a camera, or a cellphone?

      If your pictures are good quality, you could send the image files to any printer (like Adoramapix.com) to have affordable prints made. Otherwise, you might not be able to print them.

      If you are still communicating with the buyers of your originals, it might be possible to persuade them to allow you to re-photograph or scan the paintings they purchased from you. It’s a tricky situation, though, as they might have purchased them under the impression that no reproductions would be made. If you are good friends with your buyers, I suppose, it can’t do much harm to ask them. :)

      Since you now realize that you want to make prints, concentrate on getting good quality images of every painting before you sell it. Then you can upload those files to a photo printing website (there are hundreds to choose from). I personally like Adoramapix.com and IPrintFromHome.com…. and no, I don’t get paid for referrals (yet!). ;)

      Good luck!
      ~ Tara

  •    Reply

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I recently took my artwork to FedEx to get it scanned – and it came out horrible! I was thinking I couldn’t scan it myself with better quality – this was my thinking: ‘Surely if a big company like FedEx doesn’t have a wonderful scanner on hand, then the type of scanner I would need, I probably can’t afford.’ So I just learned how to take photographs of my art – and I’m mostly pleased with the results – but what a time sucker and inconvenience! I can’t take pics on a rainy day….I have to use matte boards to reflect light onto the art…and I take several pictures, and then sift out which one is best…

    When I read your post I immediately went out and bought one! I mean, immediately. :)

    The only thing I can see is that I’m having trouble picking up some of the textures of my art. My art is mainly illustration style with watercolor and colored pencil. I LIKE the different textures you can see – where the colors puddle differently on the page, and where the texture changes to colored pencil, but it seems the scanner wants to “helpfully” smooth it all out. Did you have this problem when you started? Was there some setting you used to help this issue? I’ve already tried a few different settings, and I’m still having trouble. Thanks!

    •    Reply

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog ~ and congrats on your new scanner! Which model did you get?

      Regarding texture, the first thing that comes to mind is to check your dpi (in the scan settings). The higher the resolution in which you scan your work, the more texture and detail it will pick up. It’s like going over your artwork with a fine toothed comb, compared to just giving it a quick pass. You know what I mean? So if you normally scan at 300 dpi. try scanning at 600 or 800. See if that makes a difference! :)

      The other thing that *might* be causing a problem is if your work isn’t lying flat against the glass. Try weighing your paper/canvas down with a couple of heavy books (while scanning) to make it completely flat. There is a depth of field for the scanner, which is usually less than two millimeters. If your image is raised just a bit off the glass, certain areas might not be 100% in focus – which might cause them to look “smooth”.

      Those are my two suggestions. If they don’t work, I’d suggest doing a Google search for your brand of scanner to see if anyone else is experiencing a similar problem (regarding the sharpness of the scan).

      Good luck!
      ~ Tara

  •    Reply

    Hi Tara. I appreciate this blog post. I’ve been creating art that people have been asking if I would sell as prints and stumbled on your post in trying to figure out how to do that. It was very helpful.

    This may be in the 209 replies that I know I don’t have time to read, but I thought I would share nonetheless. I am a graphic designer by trade, but recently figured out how to easily piece together a larger scan in Photoshop. (You may already know this and if so, just ignore me.) But if you have all of your pieces scanned of your one image and in Photoshop go to File>Automate>Photomerge, it pretty much takes care of it for you with great results. A buddy told me about it and I had been totally waisting my time lining up scans.

    Anyway, just thought I would share. Thank you again for the great post.

    Andy Forrester

    •    Reply

      Hi Andy!

      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, which I had to rescue from my aggressive Spam filter. For some reason, my website assumed you were canned meat! ;)

      The Photomerge option is a really nice tool, which seems to work for many people. I’m happy to hear it is working for you! :) I’ve heard mixed reviews about it from my artist friends, and sadly, it didn’t merge my scans as precisely as I had hoped it would.

      It *appeared* to work … until I zoomed in ultra-close, and noticed certain elements didn’t match at the seams. That might not matter at all if you don’t intend to enlarge the image, but I sometimes do print them larger than their original size, and those tiny details would become glaringly obvious in a larger print.

      I wouldn’t say that piecing scans together manually is a waste of time if you can possibly achieve better results.
      Though I tend to favor doing things the “hard” way (i.e. by hand), so my advice is best taken with a heaping teaspoon of sodium chloride. :)

      Best of luck,
      ~ Tara

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