When it comes to making art prints, the hardest part is choosing where and how to print! Is it better to print them yourself? Or is an online printer the best option? What if I can't find a high-quality local printer?
Never fear! Let's look into each option together so you can figure out which one will work best for you. :)
Full transparency: I actually started off buying my own paper (this one and this one) on Amazon and printing at my mom’s office (lol!) because it was super cost efficient and the nicest printer I had access to at that point! But that meant I needed to cut and align everything myself - which, as a beginner, was difficult and stressful, and resulted in a lot of misprints. Printing at first can be a trial and error process, and since I didn’t have consistent access to the printer, I couldn't make a lot of test prints - let alone print regularly on demand. Financially, it was perfect for launching my shop but eventually, I realized this option just wasn't working for me.
If you're looking for a high-quality printer that's optimized for graphic design work, check out this complete list of recommendations on the Daily Logo Challenge Blog! They also include pros and cons for each printer, as well as info to help you choose between laserjet vs. inkjet.
Side note: if you do print from home, make sure to invest in a good paper cutter! Here's the one I got on Amazon.
I also tried ordering through GicleeToday.com. Their quality is amazing (seriously, the prints I ordered were gorgeous and BUTTER smooth), but it just wasn’t cost-efficient for me. As my shop grows, I think they would be a great option to come back to!
print shops & local printers:
During the first year of running my shop, I looked for print shops nearby but most of them were a little too far away and had pretty high rates. After scouring the internet, I was feeling pretty discouraged and basically had crossed this option off my list. Then, about a year later, I discovered a local printer less than 10 minutes from my house! They hadn’t shown up in any of my searches because they had opened a month or two after I stopped searching. I just spotted their sign when I drove by! So, moral of the story, if this is an option you're drawn to, keep looking for someone nearby. The local printer I work with is an amazing, family-run business in Battle Ground called Ink Ability.
Pros of going through a print shop:
They take care of all the tricky details for you, including formatting, alignment, cutting, gluing - it's amazing! this is always the most stressful part of the process, so paying a little extra for these services is 1000% worth it to me.
They have a wide product range - that’s how I was able to print low-minimum, quality notepads!
You're supporting a local business
You get to form a relationship with your printer, and they can answer your questions and make recommendations :)
Cons of going through a local printer:
Small businesses usually have limited paper quantities and not always the quickest turnaround time (which can stress me out and basically my biggest goal, as you can probably tell, is to avoid stress and emotional turmoil in this process as much as possible, lol)
As a solution to this, I usually buy a certain amount of products and sell only what I have at a time. but it can be hard to restock because you'll have to wait a while (and if the print isn’t selling well, you’re stuck with extra copies)
specialty items & POD:
To offer specialty items like phone cases, tote bags, and apparel, I also use Printed Mint. They're a print-on-demand (POD) company with drop shipping, no minimums, and free customized packaging. I love their service because all the orders they fulfill get sent straight to customers with my branding still visible! Luckily, they also have an etsy integration, so connecting this service to my shop has been a fairly easy process so far! Every sample I've ordered from them has been awesome. So happy to have found this resource! Also, unpacking boxes of samples is SO FUN.
I recently got the Canon Pixma Pro-100! More on this (and the great color matching struggle of 2020) later. :)
For anyone who sells their art at college - if you have a hard time finding a local printer, I'd recommend finding an online option with no or very low minimum quantities. If you have the budget, buying your own printer to keep in your dorm room or apartment might be a great option too! You could also check if your college has a print shop/studio on campus and if their rates are reasonable.
I hope this helps anyone searching for printing options! Keep trying out different methods to find what works best for you! :)