Making prints for sale

  • SVS OG

    I had a few people contact me about purchasing some prints.

    Any advice on doing your own prints? What equipment is recommended and what kind of papers and inks should I use? I purchased some pre cut mats and plastic covers already. The prints would be 8x11 with the mat finished size will be 12x16. Not sure if this size is practical to ship going to get some pricing in a bit here. Any advice would be helpful.

  • SVS OG

    I just use INPRNT, but I'm curious about this as well. I know a couple of friends who bought printers in order to make their own prints, but it just hasn't been something I've focused on yet.

  • @evilrobot I made high end copies of some pencil drawings I did. They just couldn't capture the fine shading, so I went back and penciled in the fine stuff the copiers couldn't reproduce. Customers loved them...

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    I have some advice here that may be helpful.

    1. Start with smaller sizes. You don't need a huge printer right in the beginning

    2. Use Archival materials. This means the inks and paper are rated for lasting a long time. If you use standard copier inks or paper, the ink will fade within a year (especially the reds) and you will have a ton of unhappy cusomers. Epson UltraChrome inks are rated as archival (I believe)

    3. Paper: I use Epson Cold press bright papers. They are wonderful and archival. Very heavy weight. Don't skimp on paper quality. Good paper is pricey. But you want long term customers, not just a single purchase

    4. Once you get feel for it, buy a printer that can print on rolls. Believe me when I say how much of a time saver this is. I can print 50 prints at a time on extremely heavy weight paper. If you have to load each sheet, you will waste a massive amount of time. A lot of times you have to manually feed each one and it might take a few tries to get it right.

    Hope that helps some...


  • SVS OG

    @Lee-White awesome exactly what I was looking for. I've got orders for only about 15 prints so very small run but it's a start and now I know where to start. Thank you. I think I under priced them because I didn't consider the shipping but I'm stuck now. But I'll know in the future.

  • Great thread! Any tips on what printer and how to mail the prints? Is it better to print and mail your own or go through an online site like Society6 or INPRNT--like @Sarah-LuAnn? (Thoughts Sarah?)

  • SVS OG

    The nice thing about sites like INPRNT is the set-it-and-forget-it aspect. You upload your art and set your prices and then you are good to go. I'm not very diligent about checking it, so its a nice little surprise every now and then when I get a little deposit from pay pal at the end of the month, with no effort from me. That is why I do it, honestly.

    On the other hand, you are giving up control of the process, including everything from site design to materials to pricing (somewhat. You can change the prices, within certain parameters.)

    Are you someone who has the time and inclination to take care of the whole process? Or would you like to make some prints available but don't have the time and money to do it yourself just now? Do you only want to sell online (print on demand) or would you like to have more prints available for events, etc.? There is no wrong answer, it just depends on what you want and your current situation.

    I hope someday to make the switch to doing it myself (whether through ordering a large number of prints from a service or getting the printer myself) but being a stay at home mom with another little one coming in a couple months, that just is not something I can handle right now. INPRNT means that I don't have to give up on selling prints entirely during this busy stage in my life.

    Hope that helps.

  • SVS OG

    Went with Lee's recommendations for paper and ink. This is the printer I'm going to start with.

    And I ordered these pre-cut bags and mats not sure if this is practical yet or not. I thought it would be nice if it was already in a mat and all the customer had to do was pop it in a frame. It does make me have to sell the prints for more though. And also haven't figured out which option I'm going with for shipping yet.

  • SVS OG

    @evilrobot @evilrobot Cool! - let me know when you have them up for sale! - that printer looks good - i have the epson p400 which looks similar and am amazed at how fast i go through ink (mostly black...go figure:) - if you have a few extra blacks and gloss optimizer ink cartridges on hand all the time you may avoid the annoyances i have had before figuring this out - it might be other colors that you burn through quickly but having them on hand seems like a good move

  • SVS OG

    @kevin-longueil Thanks Kevin. I did order some extra cartridges just in case it's an ink sucker. I was going to go with a little more expensive Epson printer but when I got to reading they won't take any of the nice Epson cold press papers....which seems really odd for printers that are suppose to be high end to only print on cheap copy paper? I'll post a review once I get some prints going.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    You should check out @Rich-Green he does tons of prints on canvas and frames them. Outstanding stuff he does with it. He has an Epson printer as well, i don't remember the model he has.

  • Going back to my mention of woodblocks,(another thread) an early mistake I made was sizes. One picture I created I could print to my paper size, but the customers ended up having to buy custom made frames, adding about £80 to the bill! So I learned that if I was expecting them to buy the frame and mat, then I had to make my images to easily bought off the shelf frames.

    What you say about selling in mats is good. If you buy off the shelf mats (we have bargain shops that do this...and craft shops in the uk) it will cost an extra £3 but you can add an extra £10 to the final product because of the worth it adds.

    However that also adds to the postage costs.

    It’s worth thinking in terms of pricing :

    All costs
    What will make it sell better
    Pricing at a value that makes it a good deal
    Pricing at a value that puts it behind the reach of an after thought
    Sell people the process and not just the image

    My prints sell without a mat for £30 each. £5 for a Mat

    £5 more for postage

    They cost me £2 to make each one. And my time is covered by all sales easily.

  • SVS OG

    So the Epson XP-960 is a horrible machine with pretty much constant technical problems. It can't handle the heavy paper very well even though they claim it can. It does make beautiful prints if you can get it to constantly loses connection with your computer while it prints....instead of waiting for the entire file to be sent to the printer before it starts to print it tries to print as the information is being it loses connection and has to abort the print half way through. So far it seems to ruin about 4 of every 10 prints I I'd stay away from this model...any suggestions on printers? Looks like I need to buy something else.

  • Currently, I have Epson SureColor P400 13" wide format printer that uses UltraChrome inks which are archival. It can take "Fine Art" archival paper like the Epson Cold Press. I invested in this printer because I wanted to be able to do larger prints. I do a handful of conventions and art shows selling a large number of prints, so it was worth the investment. In fact, this is my second printer of the same quality. I don't know if Epson makes a smaller format printer that uses archival inks and prints archival paper. I have heard other artists using (I think) Epson Artisan printer with Ultra Premium Presentation Matte paper and they were very happy with it.

    Doing your own printing can become very frustrating. Color correcting, running out of inks, stocking up on paper and packaging/shipping supplies... I have a cabinet full of backing boards, mats, shipping envelopes, and sleeves. And you need a clean area to put it all together. And learning the technical stuff like "ICC profiles"...

    Also, the shipping process can be crazy!

    Hope that helps. Good luck!

  • Pro SVS OG

    This is an interesting thread because I have been thinking of offering prints too but I cannot really bring myself to face all the hustle. As for printers, I have tested the Canon Pixma Pro 100 which we recently bought for the agency and it´s awesome - plug-and-play, calibrates perfectly with the screen and the print quality is outstanding. I have not tested it with art papers, but I have ordered a box of Hahnemühle PhotoRag and you can download the ICC profile for it from the Hahnemühle website. I have not wrapped my head around buying it yet, but it seems a good choice for a moderate price (about 500 USD).

  • You may want to think about doing Open Edition and/or Limited Edition prints. Normally small prints (around 8x10) are Open Edition. You can sell them cheap and as many as you want. Large archival fine art prints are usually Limited Edition. They must be numbered and signed. It is more exclusive and can sell them at a higher price. This depends on your art and your customer base. I offer both.

    Also to consider when you decide to do your own prints is how to ship it. I ship mine flat because I was never good at rolling prints. I always put a crease in it no matter how careful I am. If you are matting your print, it'll have to be shipped flat obviously. Shipping it flat means having extra backing boards to keep it from getting bent. Which means the package is heavier and costs more. For me, the hardest part of doing prints was figuring out the fulfillment part. Finding the right envelopes, learning how to calculate shipping costs, and scheduling when to pack and getting it out. I'm still trying to find a better way.

    Some days I contemplate on if I should use INPRINT or other print-on-demand services... You don't make as much but you don't spend as much.

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