Monday, January 27, 2020

5 Steps to Making Prints of Your Art

Your's truly holding the "Happy Cows" original
I love helping other artists on their journey and while there is SO MUCH more that I don't know, I feel it is important to share some of the things I have learned along the way.  After all, it just might be what someone else is trying to figure out.

I've only been offering reproductions of my artwork for maybe 4 years now.  When I first started thinking about it, I felt a bit lost.  I didn't have a clue where to even start.  First, you have to decide if you are going to pay to have your prints made professionally or if  you plan on trying to tackle that job yourself.  Because I create so many pieces of art,  I felt that I would never be able to figure out which ones to make the investment in and I didn't want to have lots of money tied up in inventory just collecting dust in my studio.  The logical decision for me was to print my own.
Prints getting ready to be matted for sale

I think it would be helpful here at this stage in this blog for me just to give you a list of the supplies I use for making my prints and their Amazon links.  I hope you find this helpful.

Canon Pixma Pro 100 Printer 
Photoshop Elements or other photo editing program
Epson Premium Presentation Paper
Matte set (backboard and cellophane bag included in 8 x 10 & 11 x 14)
Art Tape
Scotch Brand Adhesive Glider (acid free adhesive)
.009 mechanical pencil
Authentic Reproduction sticker
Rigid Mailers  for shipping your prints

When I have a new work of art. the first thing you have to do is get a good photograph of the piece.  This is the foundation for being able to continue making money from your work so this is the most important step.  I'm using my image of "Happy Cows" painted in 2017 and sold two years later in 2019.  I actually had this piece professionally photographed for about $65 I think and I'm glad I did.  The larger pieces seem to be more difficult for us to get a good photo of with our camera.  The smaller canvases are much easier.  I just scan all my drawing and color pencil art.

So now you have your photo. I create a folder just for this piece and I save all my print files in that folder.   I save the original image in a PNG format to folder first and name it in this case, Happy Cows-Original.  I save it in a PNG format because JPEGs are of the devil.   I'm kidding, but I do know that over time and after a number of copies a JPEG looses it's clarity as an image and you don't want that to happen to your file. I do save a JPEG image of the 5x7 size and add a watermark to it for social media sharing purposes.  I also am sure to keep the original image unedited if for some reason I need it down the road before I have made any edits.

I want to create a print file for these 4 sizes along with a note card template.  4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10 and 11x14.  I start with the largest size desired size which in my case is 11 x 14 and I create my new document size 1" smaller on both sides; for example the 11 x 14 print file is really sized 10 x 13 inches and so on.  This insures when printed that I have a nice even white border around the image.  I leave the bottom border slightly larger because this is where I am going to write the title and sign the print using my .009 mechanical pencil.  I love the very fine line that this pencil gives me.  It is also my go to drawing pencil so I always have it there in my studio.

For the 5 x 7 prints I can actually fit 2 on one paper so I create a a file that I title 5x7 (2).  This is what the file looks like that I print from.  I get 2 prints on one sheet of paper and then I have an extra one to file away to fulfill any future order that I will have.

The image size here is really 4 x 6 (remember it is one inch smaller on both sides).  I print 4 x 6 images usually on glossy photo paper, laminate them and put a magnet on the back.  I sell a lot of magnets and at $8 each they certainly add up.  Here is the Amazon link for both the magnet sheet and the lamination film.  I've started actually cutting the magnet in half because it make it easier to place the magnet on the laminated photos and it also cuts the cost in half. It was one of those light bulb moments where you smack your head and say "Gee I could have had a V-8".  I have for years been painstakingly trying to place that 4 x 6 magnet perfectly on the back and not have any of it showing on the front side.  What a challenge that was and sometimes failed miserably.  This way it is just so less stressful to use 1/2 a magnet centered on the back.  I'm giving away all my trade secrets today.  LOL!

My Note Card Template for "Happy Cows"
I sell a lot of note cards throughout the year and so I also make a note card template for each of my pieces of artwork.  Here is the template I use for "Happy Cows".  I use card stock that I purchase directly from the Red River Paper Company.  I love their 60lb Polar Matte paper.  It comes in 7 x 10 and is already scored for me.  The colors that come off the printer are amazing.  For my Canon Pixma Printer I had to create a custom paper size and I use the setting Photo Paper Pro Premium Matte as my paper type.

I have a template made for both vertical and horizontal orientations and so I just grab the correct template I want to use in Photoshop and add the image.  I have started adding the title of the piece and my name in a handwritten font (Homemade Apple) to give it more of a "Print" feel.

1.  You will need a good printer
2.  Get a good photo of your artwork
3.  Invest in a supply of paper and mattes 
4.  Learn to use a photo editing program like Photoshop Elements
5.  START MAKING EXTRA MONEY from your art by print your own cards and reproductions. 

Just remember to be patient with the process.  Everything has a learning curve but the end rewards are certainly worth the effort.

Want to check out my ETSY Shop?  I hope I have peaked your interest and now you want to see all the artwork available there.  I plan on blogging about my ETSY experience very soon because I am asked questions frequently by artists who are considering opening a shop themselves.

Was this blog helpful?  I would love to hear your feed back and comments.  Please consider following me on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM too.

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