Printmaking vs. ReproductionBefore we talk about how to get started in making art prints, what you need, how to turn your non-digital visual artworks into digital ones, and more, let’s first know the difference between a reproduction and a print. There are a lot of opinions out there, but in general, prints are made one at a time and usually done in limited quantities. Reproductions, on the other hand, are made in bulk. They are also usually available in “open edition”, which means there is no limit on how many copies you can make. Take note that both of them are copies, but if each “copy” is unique, for instance, there are hand-drawn details added to them like your signature, then it’s a print. This is the reason most people would rather buy “prints.” For the purposes of this article, we will define prints as a copy of original artwork, available in a limited quantity, and signed by the artist. We will talk more about why you should put a limit on your prints later on.
How to Make Prints of Your ArtworkThere are different benefits to creating prints. First, you don’t have to give or sell your originals anymore. You will be able to share your work with a wider audience. Next, you can create multiple physical “originals” of a digital work of art. Lastly, it can certainly help you be more profitable as an artist. To boost your earnings, you can make limited copies of each work to increase its earning potential and rarity. Of course, anyone can print your work once you have posted it online. However, how many can do so without the watermark and with your signature on it? Not many, right?
1. Choose Your WorkOnce you do decide to get started, the first thing you need to do is decide which of your works you’re going to turn into prints. If you don’t have any piece that you’re confident with, then this is the perfect time to start making new ones. Chances are, you probably have a few in mind already. Put them aside as we get our gear ready. You will find a checklist of what you need to prepare below.
2. Prepare the Things That You NeedAside from your artwork, here are the other things you need:
- A Camera or a Scanner: This should be able to capture a high-resolution image of your artwork.
- A Reliable Monitor: This should display your work’s colors as accurate as possible.
- Photo Editing Software: The one that we use and recommend is Adobe Photoshop. It’s straightforward to use even for beginners. It also has a lot of features and functionality.
- A Pigment-Based Printer: There are a lot of printers out there, but there are only a few that are really pigment-based. Don’t worry; we are going to talk more about printers later.
- A Paper Cutter: This should accommodate the sizes that you want to offer.
- Backing Board: Also known as a mounting board, this is the cardboard material that usually goes at the back of frames to support the print being held. We prefer opting for a recycled option if you can find one.
- Plastic Bags: This will keep your print protected from dust and film.
- Other Accessories for Packaging: We are also going to talk more about packaging in a bit.
3. Decide Whether to Scan or PhotographThe question is, which route should you take? Is there a difference between the results of the two? Actually, there are a few significant differences. If you’re processing a drawing, then we recommend photographing it. Scanning it would result in a “photocopied” look and can be very hard to edit. Scanning colored pieces, though, is better since you won’t have to worry much about color correction due to improper lighting. Our basic rule of thumb is that if the work is colored, if it fits your scanner, and if it’s safe for the piece to be laid down, then we scan it. Not only does scanning allow us to input the specific resolution we want, but the digital image also looks clear and sharp most of the time. What about those that don’t fit into the scanner? Those that simply don’t look crisp and clear? That’s when we photograph it. We recommend for you to invest in a sturdy tripod if you’re going to take this route to avoid image blurring. You can get good lighting equipment as well, but natural, indirect lighting also works great.
4. Edit, Proof, and PrintOnce you have made a digital copy, you can now move on to edit it in your selected photo editing software. You can crop and play with the colors a bit until it looks as close to your original piece as possible. The more crucial step, though, is to proof. This is the process where you will check if your editing worked. Get your expensive ink and paper ready. Once you’re happy with the results of your editing, print it out. Does it look great? Is it too bright? Is the contrast a bit problematic? If so, then perform the necessary adjustments and print again. Repeat this process until you get the results that you want. Don’t worry, once you gain more experience in your photo editing software, the less proofing will be required. Some works are simply impossible to get 100% perfect. It’s part of the process. What’s important is for you to get your print as close to perfect as possible. Once you’ve achieved that, don’t forget to save that particular file and mark it as final.
Different Types of PrintersSince we are ready to print, it’s also the perfect time to talk a bit about printers. There are different types of printers and are categorized in various ways. You’d want to check the ink that they use, though. There are two: pigment-based inks and dye-based inks. Pigment-based is what we’re going for because they don’t fade quickly. Your prints will last for several decades and still look new if cared for properly. The problem is, these printers also cost quite a sum, so be sure to do your research and read reviews before deciding on one. They also take longer to print. For instance, a batch of 50 might take a few hours or so.
What Paper Should You Use?Once you’ve chosen the printer, it’s time to go paper shopping. We prefer archival-grade, also known as museum-grade, semi-gloss paper, but this depends on the piece. Some works look better on glossy paper, while it’s hard to let the details show on matte paper. The best way is to buy a selection of different papers to play with, especially during your proofing process. The perfect combination of quality pigment-based printing on archival paper is what makes your print a fine art or giclée print, and not just a random printout.
Should You Get Your Works Printed Professionally?Investing in the printer, ink, and paper can be quite expensive. This is why we totally understand why you’re now considering getting your prints done elsewhere. That’s also an option. Just know that they can be a bit time-consuming. The proofing process will require your printer to send copies multiple times, and it becomes expensive in the long run. After all, printing on your own would only require you to buy your printer once, and you can buy paper and ink in bulk. We also prefer doing our own printing since it gives us more control over the finished work.
Let’s Talk About PackagingOnce you have finished printing, lay your prints on a clean, dry surface and let them dry undisturbed for at least 24 hours. If you want to add other details, like metallic paint, on your work, then this is the perfect time. We recommend waiting for them to dry before signing them, though. In the meantime, you can go ahead and lay out a certificate of authenticity if your work is a limited edition. This should contain your name, your signature, the name of the piece, its dimensions, and the edition number of each print. This is an optional yet nice touch to add to your packaging. Speaking of packaging, you may start lining up your plastic packaging and inserting your backing board. You can sign each work, insert, and voila! You’re done. Congratulations!
Where to Sell Your ArtworkNow, the only problem that remains is deciding where to sell your art. There are various art marketplaces online that you can choose from, but here are two of our favorites:
- Etsy: This is one of the most popular sites for artists, a go-to for art and craft enthusiasts. You can sell both your originals and prints here. There is also a way on how to sell prints of your art without printing anything. Plus, we love that the site offers an easy-to-use interface for their sellers.
- Artfire: Another trendy site is Artfire. It is similar to Etsy, but we love that it also allows its members to share podcasts and participate in forums. The added interaction definitely adds to the experience.
How to Promote Your WorkSince we are already on the topic of digital marketing, here are a few more tips to promote and sell your art:
- Share your process on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media networking sites.
- Don’t be afraid to market your prints offline. Participate in art fairs, conventions, and more.
- Build a community of fans and followers by actively interacting with them. Reply to their comments, listen to their requests and recommendations, and just keep them in the loop on what you’re currently working on.
ConclusionNow that you have an idea on how to make prints of your artwork, we can’t wait until you put your first batch of art prints out there! If there’s one tip that we would want you to take away, though, it’s this: creating art prints is also a creative process that you get better at with patience and practice. It doesn’t matter if each piece is “just” a reproduction; it’s still the extension of your artistry to the world. Create each print with care and quality in mind, and you will never go wrong. Stay inspired!
More Posts About Selling Art Online
- How to Sell Your Art on Facebook Shops
- How to Make Prints of Your Artwork: Create, Print, Profit
- How to Get Your Art Noticed Online: Boosting Your Presence
- How to Choose Your Social Media Selling Platform
- Intellectual Property: What is it and Can I Use it in my Art?
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4 thoughts on “How to Make Prints of Your Artwork: Create, Print, Profit”
I like your Article on reproducing work. You skipped a part though in defining Print vs Copy. A metal plate, designed not to be displayed but rather only created to print from, each of those prints when numbered in a limited quantity and sighed by the Artist, each of those are an Original. I have 2 Original Van Gough Prints, which because they are not a digital reproduction of a Drawing made to hang on the Wall, but are from the Original Metal Plate (which is the Artist’s only version of that Work) these are then all Originals. Like in Art Class when we used a chisel on Lino to create a plate to print from. Each Print was an Original, as it was not nearly a digital version of an art piece, as the Lino Matt was never designed to be displayed and framed for the Wall, only as a way to create Original Prints. Make sense?
I’m not a “real Artist” so to speak, and I’m only beginning to create Acrylic Pour Art, but I thought I’d give my 2 Cents worth.
Thank you for posting this article. I have been heading down this path for a few weeks. One of the things I an encountering is the canvas texture of the paintings. I want to make a print where that doesn’t show. Do you have any recommendations on how to photograph is so the canvas marks don’t show?
If artist A did a still life painting with a bowl of fruit on a small table with curtain in the background then artist B liked A’a work so much he did a similar still life painting with a bowl of fruit on a small table (different fruit) with something like a curtain in the background.
Would this be infringement?
I have seen numerous styles (not just techniques) of acrylic pouring I would like to mimic and sell (if possible) but would I be infringing on someone’s copyright?
Thank you are this article, I’m researching this topic for my talented students (middle school) that want to start a business selling their art one day. I am helping them to see that there are so many opportunities to market their skills. I love how you are honest about the cost of equipment. That it will be an investment to start a business. I will be quoting you in my article on “Business to Start if your Funds are Limited”.