Friday, January 10, 2020

It's All About the Paper

The original 11 x 14" acrylic- "The Face of Mace"
One of my studio goals for last year was to step up my game when it came to my note cards and art reproductions sales. Every artist should want to continue the unending revenue stream that selling reproductions of your original art can give you.  Long after the original piece is gone, the potential of selling reproductions in the form of prints and cards continues and can be a substantial source of income.

So once I have the photo or scan of the completed artwork done, I will then pull the image into Photoshop where I create a file folder unique to that artwork title. This folder is where I will store the different variations of the image.

For reproductions,  I create a new document file that is 1 inch less then what I want the actual reproduction size to be.  For example, my main reproduction size that I offer is 8 x 10 inches matted to 11 x 14 inches.  I keep all my supplies in my inventory for this size.  It is easy to frame and is easy for me to ship.  So in Photoshop Elements,  I will create a new document that is 7 x 9 inches.  This insures that I will have at least a nice 1" border around all the sides.  Sometimes, depending on the original size of the artwork I might have a bit larger of a border than the 1" on either the sides or the top and bottom.  The goal is to keep the art proportionally correct and not stretch or distort it.  You want it to be as centered and as large of an image as will fit in the document size.  It is also okay to leave a little bit larger of a border on the bottom because this is where you will be signing and numbering the reproduction if applicable and writing the title of the piece using a pencil.

The printer is important but I think the paper is equally important.  I purchased a Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer to use as my main studio printer.  The ChromoLife Dye based ink isn't as archival as the pigment inks but it states that if stored in the right conditions (acid free and not in direct sunlight) the print can last up to 100 years.  That is good enough for me at this point in my artist journey. The price also doesn't break the bank and at the same time gives me the flexibility to print larger sized papers.  I'm happy and it has paid for itself  MANY times over in the last 3 years.   

Example of my set of 4 printed goat cards
I started a journey last year to find my paper of preference.  For my notecards it is hands down the (1) 60lb Polar Matte 7 x 10" scored card stock that you can purchase from Red River Paper Company.  The printed image comes out beautiful and I couldn't be more pleased with how professional my note cards look now.

Since Red River Paper Company also sells fine art papers I made the decision to order their Fine Art Base Kit for $7.95 so that I could try out several different paper options without investing large amounts of money to buy larger quantity of each.  Let me show you what I found with this little experiment I conducted using the same image file on all of the print outs.  My original goat painting titled "The Face of Mace".

I realize that you're not getting the best image here of my reproductions and you can feel the paper but I decided to share the results anyway and maybe you would then decided to do your own experiment.

Aurora Art White 285 @ $0.75 a sheet
Of the Red River Papers, I liked the printed results of the (2) Aurora White Paper the best.  The per sheet cost of that paper was $ .75 each and so it wasn't too expensive and gave a nice crisp color and had a fine texture that made the print feel rich.

Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper- $1.19 per sheet

I also tried some of the papers I had on hand in my studio.  I had purchase an extra large (3) Epson Fine Art Velvet paper several years ago that is actually turns out to be the most expensive option.  I cut it down to the 8.5 x 11 size and included it in the line up.  The end result was okay but I felt the colors were better represented on the less expensive papers I tried.  This paper came in at $1.19 per sheet.

Epson Premium Presentation Paper- $ .08 per sheet
Next, I tried a much less expensive option in what is actually a matte photo paper.  One by Canon  that is $4.99 for a pack of 50 sheets and the second was an (4) Epson Premium Presentation Paper, which is priced $8.08 for 100 sheets.  Both papers turned out pretty comparable in quality and price I actually liked the Epson Presentation Paper the best.  The texture and weight of the paper wasn't as fine as the Red River paper but the color was very comparable.  After all these reproductions will wind up being framed and placed behind glass so to me the image and color are more important than the thickness of the paper.
(5) Canon Matte Photo Paper- $ .09 per sheet

Of course this is just today and as I grow as an artist I will most likely change my opinion on this and even outsource my printing to the professionals but that isn't in the plan for now.  I started a journey to improve the quality of both my note cards and reproductions and I think I have done just that.  Maybe you are in the same stage as I am and I have helped you with a hint or two on how to improve your own art business.  I hope so.

By the way, if you like this adorable little goat print or if you would like to purchase a pack of cute goat cards just checkout my Etsy Shop.  I have all sorts of little creatures there that are sure to make you smile.


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