Commission print services?

  • Hi everyone,
    I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend!
    I've been thinking about starting to do illustrated portrait commissions again, I used to do them traditionally and post them, but now I want to do them digitally but don't have access to a good printer.
    Does anyone know of any print services where you can get one print done at a time as opposed to a whole bulk? I was thinking of doing a sort of drop shipping thing so I can send the print straight to the customer.
    However, i have seen some people on Etsy only providing digital files for commissions, but does that put people off? Doesn't really seem worth their money if they have to print it themselves.

    Just wanted to know your thoughts and if anyone uses a print service themselves. I'm based in the UK, so a UK firm would be easier but open to any! 🙂

  • Hello @hannahmccaffery

    I think the best way is to talk to a local printers and make a deal with them, even if you might have to tell them a white lie saying they could benefit from you because you might be busy and print bulk in the future.

    I did that with my picture book, they were making 1 at the time I was doing for my Instagram project to test out how many people are actually engaging and buying things through social media.

    Hope that helps.

  • @VitoPetra Thank you for your reply! Unfortunately there aren't any print services in the town where I live, but I might have a look a bit further a afield and try your approach 🙂
    Thanks again!

  • @hannahmccaffery The Printspace in London is really good. Lots of types of paper. WIll handle your orders. And they ship anywhere for £6.

  • @hannahmccaffery Here is their website The Printspace LINK

  • Pro

    @hannahmccaffery I do portrait commissions on Etsy and have them printed and shipped by Printful. I like their quality and they have a facility in the US and one in Europe which makes advantageous shipping times and prices no matter where the client is. That being said, I offer a "digital only" option as well (as part of the listing variations) and most people have chosen that.

  • @NessIllustration @sigross Brilliant! Thank you both so much, Printspace and Printful look like just the sort of thing I was after 🙂
    Ah that's interesting that people have chosen digital only, I guess it makes sense so they can print it to whatever size they want!
    @NessIllustration If you don't mind me asking, how did you work out how to price yourself with your commissions? Do you charge per person in the portrait or just as a whole thing?

  • @sigross I just ordered a sample pack from The Print Space, seems really reasonable! 🙂 thanks for your suggestion!

  • @hannahmccaffery Good stuff. Yes and they have lots of great paper. The bamboo is lovely - apart from when printing a lot of black as it causes a bit of a blotchy sheen. I use the hahnemuhle photo rag quite a lot, it's delicate and the ink pigments look amazing.

  • @sigross Ah brill, thanks for the tip! I'm excited to get these commissions up and running now, I didn't think it would be so simple to find some of these print companies! Now to just figure out how to price these commissions, I always find that to be the hardest part 😞
    Do you sell commissions or have an etsy shop or anything?

  • @hannahmccaffery I do editorial photography commissions. And sell limited edition art prints through shopify - I'd like to just do illustration but I mix it up a bit. My Printspace shop is linked to shopify so they handle all my inventory, printing and deliveries - I just recently set that up to take some pressure off the logistics of packing and shipping stuff. I use Contrado for printing homewares and promo T-Shirts. Now I'm applying to show in art fairs as I think that will lead to more online sales.

    Have you got an online shop set up?

  • @hannahmccaffery for commissions its good to have a page on your website that's just for commissions so people can find it easily. And I'd suggest putting it in your instagram bio. Are you a member of AOI? They have stuff on the website for pricing commissions as I was going to look into that.

    Here is the London Freelancers illustration/commission editorial rates so maybe use that as a starting block - Freelance Fees Guide LINK

  • Pro

    @hannahmccaffery I charged for how long the portrait will take me to do 🙂 So a couple portrait takes a bit longer, but it's not a 2x ratio because the talking with the client, getting the references and pose is only done once. Charging by time does mean my portraits are very highly priced by Etsy standards, but oh well! watch me not caring

  • @sigross I checked out your commissions, they're really cool 🙂 That's a great idea about linking to My Printspace, has it all been smooth so far with no hiccups? I'm wary about not seeing the print before sending it to the customer!
    No i haven't yet, I just want to get some examples done and figure out my pricing options then I'll be good to go!
    Thanks so much for that pricing link, so so useful and I never even thought about how you price yourself based on how many countries your work will be used in. I used to be a member of the AOI so I've got all the booklets/info from them about pricing yourself so I've been looking at those. It's just that awkward line of wanting to get lots of orders but for a fair price for you and for the customer!

    @NessIllustration I had a little look at your Etsy, such a lovely commission designs 🙂 Have you had a lot of orders even if your prices are a bit higher than usual? And so they should be, by the way 🙂

  • Pro

    @hannahmccaffery I've had some yes! 🙂 All pet portraits though, those are really popular! And I've a had a couple returning customers who got one pet and then cam back to get their other pet done too hihi

  • @NessIllustration That's brilliant 🙂 I hope you keep getting more and more!

  • Pro

    @hannahmccaffery Thanks, and good luck with yours as well!

  • @hannahmccaffery Nice one glad you liked them! 🙂 With the printing at printspace, if the customer isn't happy with the quality they will send a replacement at no extra charge. Make sure there's a returns policy on your website. I always do a test print first to check my colours or colour changes on each type of paper. That sample pack is handy for that. I remember picking up the bamboo test one and there was a starchy sheen to it. I complained and they printed another one on a different type of paper at no cost. That made me quite confident in using them. They also make limited edition certificates and keep track of my editions wherever I sell them from. I just upload a digital signature and logo. For the latest edition I'm doing, I want to sign the front in pencil. So I'm going to ask if I can do that before they post any orders out.

    Pricing Art is hard. A friend of mine sold a pencil drawing for £2000 to a collector. And when he made new work he sold to the same collector for £4000. The collector was really happy to pay that price, because he believed the earlier work was now worth double what he bought it for.

    Two tips I was told recently by a gallerist is don't do discounts as art is meant to be valuable. And if you are selling on different platforms make sure your price is consistent. Don't have say London prices and then local prices. Or prices because someone takes a percentage.

  • @sigross Oh really, they really do sound like a great company then if that's the case! I'm looking forward to getting the sample pack now to have a good look and have an account with them!
    Wow £2000?! He must be pretty well known in his field to earn that sort of money?
    Thank you for those tips, i'm definitely guilty of doing some sort of discount in the past but not anymore! 🙂

  • @hannahmccaffery Actually it was $2000 as he's American! But still pretty good prices. I think that's normal for an original drawing. But yes as he sells more he can put prices up. Printing multiple copies as a limited edition brings the prices down and open editions are similar to selling posters.

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