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Question About Printing Smaller Art Prints:


Got this question a while back, thought I’d share it with everyone, in case others had the same.

Q: Do you recommend printing your own prints for sale or do have a print shop do that? Can you really affordably print your own prints without sacrificing quality? I was thinking smaller prints like an 8 x 10 or 11 x14. I was thinking of offering smaller ie: more affordable prints.

A: Ok. I do my smaller prints like that at Costco. It took me a bit of playing around with the color in Photoshop – to get it correct. But now I kind of have an idea before I start, on what I need to do make the images look the way I want. So I adjust to that, and then do a really small 4 x 6 print as a test. Then when I get it how I want it – I do the 8 x 10. I now have a couple bigger size options available on a couple Etsy shops – because people were asking for them. But these are still all printed through Costco.

I find that having small prints (8 x 10) at art shows is a life saver – and then I offer a discount if people get two or more. My cost for an 8 x 10 is $1.50 for the print and then probably another $1.50 for the bag, cardboard and promotional item. So all in looking at $3.00 and I sell them for $15 – which is a perfect 5 times markup, and is the recommended mark up for prints etc.

I haven’t looked at the cost of doing these at home – but for me at least, the ink and the photo paper on my own I’m guessing would make this much more expensive to run off my own computer. And I feel (although I don’t know for certain) that the photo process is going to be a better print, that can withstand more sunlight, than my own home inkjet printer.

A tip my printer gave me (he does all my giclee printing): There is a box in the check out process that should be checked so that “Costco” won’t show on the back.

For more about the business of art, see Paintballs & Widgets

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2 Responses to “Question About Printing Smaller Art Prints:”

  1. Yelena Shabrova March 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    The cost of printing at home really depends on where you buy the supplies. I use Epson printers, Epson cartridges, and paper from RedRiver.com. The cost of a budget 8 x 10 print is $0.96. The ink is archival (because I make archival prints with them too), but the paper is not. In addition to lower cost per print, I have full control over the quality of the print. Costco and similar services have color shifts from one run to another, you may get lighter or darker prints, and none of that reflects well on your art; when you print at home you can eliminate those problems completely. Depending on how many small prints you produce and the cost of the printer, it may be less expensive in the long run to switch to printing at home. If you are comfortable with color management and Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements), you can print everything but pieces that are larger than what your printer can produce.

    • admin April 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Yelen. Thank you for your very detailed comment. I think it’s great that we have so many options to create prints these days – which enable more people ot have our art.

      I did learn a tip from a printer of mine who uses Costo. He told me to tell the system to not auto-adjust so that the prints can come out quite well.