Monday, 13 August 2012

How to Create Art Prints of Your Work

I often get emails from people asking how I create my art prints and cards, so I thought I'd share a little insider knowledge with you on how I do this, and how easy it can be to get started.

There are a few options available to getting your work printed and ready to sell, here's how:

A Mini Guide to Home Printing

There are three ways I digitalise my images for printing; the first one is to a upload them using a scanner.

I use an Epson Perfection V33 and it's perfect for my smaller stuff.  It's easy to use and it can also scan 3D objects which is useful for small box canvas art that I create.

Another way to digitalise your art is to photograph it.  I use an SLR for this kind of thing as it produces way better images than my small pocket camera.  When photographing your work, make sure you use natural light without a flash, and never take photographs in direct sunlight.  If possible, try and photograph your work from above, using an overhead tripod to keep things steady.  With both of these methods you will need to tinker with the images in Photoshop (or similar program) to crop the edges and edit the colours.  Run off a test sheet before printing to check that you've got a good colour match with your original work.

There are also ways to callibrate your printer and computer so that the colours you see on the screen are the colours your printer will print for you.  You can google tutorials and purchase kits for doing this online.

I have my larger work scanned professionally at a printers in the city.  This is a more expensive option as you pay to have it scanned and copied to disc, but once you've payed for this service, the disc is yours and you can get them to print your work for you or run off your own smaller prints from home.

A few years ago I invested in a really good printer.  It's an Epson one; they don't make my model any more but I think the nearest thing to it is this one.  It can print up to A3 size and take a variety of paper types and thicknesses, which is useful when printing onto thicker art papers.  The benefits of printing from home is that you can print on demand, and you don't have to accomodate a big pile of stock if space is an issue.

The paper I currently use for my art prints is Epson Archival Matte paper.  I have also used Hahnemuhle fine art paper.  Both of these reproduce my work beautifully.  You can buy various textures of art paper for printing, shop around to see what might work for you.

What I create at home:

Fine art prints

Fine art greetings cards

I currently produce my range of greetings cards from home, printing off the images, cutting and mounting them onto blank white cards.  I hand sign them and package them into cellophane envelopes.  Whilst I really like the style of a hand created card, I have recently decided to have them printed professionally as financially and time wise it's going to cost me less to produce.  Rather than stop making my own cards completely though, I've decided to issue limited edition ranges throughout the year.

If you don't have a scanner or a printer, but want to digitalise your art...

You're in luck as there are plenty of people and services out there who can help you:

I'm a huge fan of Moo.  I've used them for business cards now for several years and their products and quality are awesome.  I recently chose them to print my first run of glossy art postcards and I was delighted with them - so were  my customers, I sold out of my first batch within a week of putting them on sale and the feedback I've had about them has been brilliant.

They also create greetings cards too and the beauty of Moo is that you can upload one or lots of different images and order quantities to suit your pocket.

Another company that I've heard good things about is Red Bubble.  This is another online print company who will produce your work and even mail it out to your customers for you.  They create all kinds of products with your images too, not just prints and cards but even hoodies and t-shirts.  You just have to create your online store, and upload your jpeg images.  This is a good option if you're looking at selling your work online and haven't yet got a website of your own.

There are also other printing companies similar to this that you might want to check out:  Zazzle and Cafepress

Pros and Cons of Printing at Home:


  • Good profit a possibility

  • Print on demand so no huge piles of stock to house

  • Can be cheaper than having it done at a professional printing outfit

  • Send your prints out wrapped in your own delicious branding

  • Hand sign and personalise your work


  • Can be expensive to set up - buying the printer and keeping it fed with inks

  • Takes time to edit work so it's print worthy

  • The time factor - it can be time consuming to create your own prints at home, as you need to consider mounting your work, packaging it and getting it up to the post office to ship out.

Pros and Cons of using External Print Companies/Print Shops:


  • No printer to buy, no ink to buy, no paper to buy = no equipment outlay

  • Decide how much you want to sell your prints for and let someone else do the work for you

  • No postage costs

  • Professional print shops do a fantastic job, the equipment they use ensures that you're going to get a print of exceptionally high quality.

  • If you're time strapped, outsourcing this kind of work is a great option.


  • Profits can be low - online stores will take a percentage

  • Sales of your work not guaranteed

  • Having to wait for payment from online stores

  • Having your work scanned and printed by a professional printing shop can be expensive, and some places may insist on a minimum order print run - you then have to store the stock and hopefully sell all the prints.

  • Turnaround time on print orders can be lengthy - ask before you order.

I hope this mini guide to creating prints of your work has helped some of you out there, and if you've got any questions about printing from your art, then do holler - I'm always glad to hear from you.


  1. I was just wondering about this the other day, so thanks for this very comprehensive blog post!
    Kate x

  2. You're very welcome! J x

  3. I've been thinking about investing in a good printer and scanner but wasn't sure what to go for, so your post was really useful. Many thanks, Janet x

  4. Julia, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. This sort of information would take months if not years for us newbies to acquire. :-)

  5. thank you, Julia, your article is very useful !

  6. what a really useful post, thankyou Julia. I've just used Moo to have some greetings cards printed, I'm thrilled with them, and I'm currently looking for somewhere to scan in a larger image for me and do some printing, but it's so confusing with all the printing and paper options.....

  7. Thank you so much for all this information, Julia. This is so helpful to me as I contemplate reproducing some of my artwork.

    Best wishes to you.

  8. Julia,

    you are awesome. Although I actually don't need your information, because I'm a crocheter and beginning sewer, I appreciate your generosity in sharing your knowledge.

    I really respect you.


  9. Hi Julia, it was very kind of you to share these tips. I was beginning to think I would never be able to print on card again, because our new printer just grabs, guzzles and gurgitates resulting in a mess!

    Have a lovely day :)


  10. Hi,...Thanks for you great post,..:)....I'm just looking into having some prints made of my work. Most of it is very large paintings that have since been sold. I have hi res photos of all of them and am thinking of printing detail shots, it possible to get a good enough quality print from a digital photo in order to sell them?? Thank so much for any help,...Cj

  11. Hi Caroline,
    I don't see why not - as long as your images are high res (as you've said they are) and at least 300dpi (you can usually check this if you have a program like Adobe Photoshop elements and also adjust). Your Printing people might also be able to advise you as to whether your jpegs are print worthy, and you can also ask them to run you off a proof before you do a run, just so you know how it will turn out. I hope that helps, and good luck.
    Julia x x x

  12. Thanks for listing the pros and cons of printing your artwork yourself, or going through an external service. I've been wanting to make prints of my own work, but don't have the means right now to keep a printer fed with ink. I'll look for an external source for now :)

  13. Hi, Can you tell me please... do you ever get giclee prints made or produce all on your own printer. If you don't sell giclee prints why not? I was told they are far more fade resistant, higher quality etc. would really appreciate your thoughts.

    1. Hi Heather, yes I do have prints of my paintings made, I used to do them years ago but since worked out it is more cost effective to have them done for me (the inks in particular got really expensive to buy). I have used a professional printing house for quite a few years now, and all my cards and prints are outsourced in this way which also frees up time for me to get on with what I enjoy doing best - painting! Hope this helps, thanks for getting in touch xxx


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