Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How To Create Art Prints

So it seems this topic is coming up a lot lately, just in the last 24 hours I have been asked this question on 5 different occasions lol so it seemed reasonable to create this post that I can forward people to the next time it comes up. 

There are several ways to make beautiful prints of your artwork and it will be up to you to decide on the method that works best for your situation.  I have learned a few different ways of doing this and that is what I will share with you here.  This is not to say that these are the only methods out there, they are just simply the methods that I have found to work best for me. 

First you will need to acquire a high resolution digital image of your artwork and there are 2 methods that I know of to do that.
  1. Use a high resolution scanner - If your artwork is small enough to fit into your high resolution scanner then this is a wonderfully easy way to acquire your digital image.  If you don't have a high resolution scanner, I have heard that there are some Printing Studios that will scan your artwork for you for a fee.  For myself this was not easy to find and still to this date I have not found one, but you should definitely check it out for yourself in your area and see what is available to you.
  2. Use a high megapixel digital camera - 4 years ago I wrote a blog post on Photographing Art if you aren't yet familiar with how to take a proper photo of your artwork you will want to start there.  That post should teach you everything you need to know to get you to this point here.  At the end of the Photographing Art post I discuss resizing your image for the net however for making prints you will want to keep your image as large and as high of resolution as you can get.  You never want to try and enlarge a small image as this will cause the image to become blurred and pixelated.  
Now that you have your high resolution digital image you will need to have a method of printing it out.  Luckily for this there are many options available to you!
  1. Print your own - This can be a lot easier then you may at first think!  With today's technology it is affordable and easy to make beautiful Giclee prints right in your own home or studio!  All you need is an inkjet printer, some archival inks and a package of quality photo paper of your choice.  EASY!  When looking for the right printer to buy you will want to pay attention to the specs and most importantly to the Maximum Print Resolution, as well as Minimum Ink Droplet Size, Printing Technology, and last but not least Paper Sizes.  Before I started doing my own prints I owned an HP printer and I was quite happy with it, however when I started selling Giclee prints I decided to invest in an Epson and boy what a difference in quality!!  What I love about the Epson's and they are as far as I know the only household brand of printer to offer this is the 6-colour (C, M, Y, K, LC, LM), drop-on demand MicroPiezo® inkjet technology.  So instead of taking a black cartridge and a color cartridge that only has magenta, cyan and yellow in it, the Epson has a black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta.  When creating art prints this is a huge deal as it can produce a larger range of colors and your prints will look much more true to the original colors of the artwork then with the single color cartridge printers out there.  Now lets talk about paper size,  most printers will print as large as a legal size piece of paper 8.5" x 14", I believe that is pretty standard for most printers.  You may not want to go any bigger then that, however if you do want to go bigger then that there are options.  Epson also offers over sized printers that print up to 11"x 17" in size.  (I just want to let you know that I am in no way affiliated with Epson, they are not paying me for this blog post, I just truly believe in their product and think it is the best on the market for doing at home art prints)  You have several options when it comes to picking out the paper you want to print on.  Most commonly Matte, Satin or Glossy finish photo paper which you can get at Staples or Office Depot.  I personally prefer the Satin finish as it is a much smoother look then the Matte but not nearly as glossy as the Glossy finish but this is all just a matter of personal preference, I do not believe that there is a right or wrong when it comes to the paper finish you choose.  You may want to create your art prints on watercolor paper and that is alright too, it gives them a whole other look that can be quite beautiful.  Again this is all up to your personal tastes and you may want to experiment to find out what you like the best.
  2. Get a professional to do your prints - Even if you decide to do your own Giclee prints at home and are using an oversized printer you may still want to go even bigger then the 11" x 17" size and in which case will have to go see a professional.  There are a few online options for this as well as brick and mortar ones.  Here are a couple of links to check out online Fine Art America & Society 6 both of these options allow you to sell your art prints through them as well as order your own art prints at a reduced price so you can sell them yourself at art shows and exhibitions.  If you rather find a brick and mortar printing studio a wonderful option is Costco, they use a Digital C Print Process which is paper that gets exposed with lasers or LEDs and is then processed using RA-4 photo chemistry (or some variation of)  I can tell you from experience that Costco does beautiful prints and they are very affordable!   If you don't have a Costco in your area you can check around at other photo labs, be sure to ask questions first, find out what printing process they use and get them to show you a sample first so you can make sure all the colors are going to come out right and you are happy with the overall quality of the print.
Once you have created your beautiful art prints you will need to sign them, a fine tip Sharpie will work best for this as it will dry instantly on the non pores paper and not smudge.   Now the age old debate of "where" to sign your name on your art print! lol  You will find many different answers for this, on the front, on the border, on the picture, on the back, on the left, on the right, top, bottom.... you get the point.  You can search google all day long and find different artists telling you why their way is the right way.  Again I think this is a matter of personal preference.   Personally I leave a 1/4 inch white border all the way around all of my prints, I use satin finish paper, I sign my name, artwork title and date on the back right bottom corner of all my art prints.  I am not saying this is the right way by any means, it is just simply the way I like to do it and you are welcome to do it the same or I encourage you to do whatever you think looks the best for you!

If you are going to be selling your art prints you will need to think about packaging.  The absolute best, most affordable place that I have found for packaging my art prints is Clear Bags they sell every single size you could ever imagine and their bags are exactly what their name says CLEAR!  Some bags may look clear but if you look closer or hold them up to a Clear Bags "Crystal Clear Bag" you will see that a lot of "clear" bags are actually very cloudy looking and this is going to make a huge difference to someone in the business of selling art prints!  If you are doing an art show and have your art prints out on display you are going to want the customers to be able to really see your beautiful artwork through the packaging, trying to see the art print through a cloudy packaging is going to deter from the potential sale.  The other important thing to note is that the packaging you are using is Acid and Lignin Free and Archival Safe.  You don't want your art prints to start deteriorating inside the packaging.  Once you have your packaging you will need thin cardboard to cut to size to slide into the package behind your art print, this will help keep the print straight and free from bends and creases.

Something that is not necessary but you may want to include is a certificate of authenticity.  This can be something as simple as a little card that you type up on the computer with your name, the date and your signature just guaranteeing the customer that they are buying your original work.  It can be as fancy or as plain jane as you want it to be.  It does give your art prints that little something extra if you know what I mean. 

I think that pretty much covers everything from start to finish however if I have left anything out or you have any questions at all feel free to leave a comment down below and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Good luck with creating your own art prints!  :) 

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