Sometime ago, a reader asked how to find a printing company to make reproductions of her work. She wasn’t asking about printing machines; she wanted to know where to send digital images to have reproductions made.
Let’s let her explain.
How do you find a printer who can make quality prints of your work? I’m not talking a machine, though if there are reasonably priced ones, that would be good info. I’m talking about a service that specializes in reproducing art.
Thanks so much for your great information!
Artists these days have a couple of very good options available. Let’s talk about them.
How to find a Printing Company for Art Prints
The first step, of course, is to decide whether or not you have an image worthy of being reproduced.
Once you make that decision, you need to decide how you want to print your reproductions—by print-on-demand or in bulk.
One of the more popular ways for artists to enter the print market is through print-on-demand. Companies such as Fine Art America, and Gelato are only two of the many options.
Many of these print-on-demand providers offer ways to get started at no cost. All you have to do is open an account, upload high-resolution images of the artwork you want to market, and decide what sizes and types of reproductions you want to sell.
Some of them offer different printing surfaces from paper to canvas to wood, metal and acrylic.
Many also give you the opportunity to market merchandise such as mugs, tote bags, and decor items if you’re of a mind to do that.
These companies take care of shipping orders and handling returns as well as printing. They will take a sizeable commission off each sale, but that’s how they make their money.
You don’t earn anything until you sell something, but unless you open a premium account, you also won’t pay anything until you sell something.
You also don’t need to worry about stocking inventory.
Selling Print on Demand
As good as some of these companies are, they do have some disadvantages.
For one thing, unless you order a sample of each item you market, you have no way of knowing how good the printing work is.
They also do very little marketing for you. Yes, they promote the company as a whole, but there are thousands of artists with accounts, trying to sell things, so you need to promote your “store” just as much as you would promote anything else. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a nice web space, but no visitors.
Print in Bulk Options
I just ordered a small batch of print copies of the June 2021 issue of CP Magic. They arrived this week and they look great. What’s more, the cost of printing was such that I was able to get a small order (10 copies,) at an affordable price. I won’t make a lot of money, but I didn’t pay an arm and a leg either.
The ordering process was easy once I got a handle on it, the printing was fast, and so was delivery.
A company called Mixam did the printing for me and on the basis of this one order, I’m not at all hesitant in recommending them.
They do printing of all types, including brochures, business cards, post cards and…
VistaPrint, which I knew printed business cards, post cards, and marketing materials, also produces reproductions, but only on canvas and only in limited sizes.
So search for digital printing services, then explore what each company offers to find the best match.
For my money, I cannot recommend Mixam enough.
Buying Bulk Reproductions
Keep in mind with orders like this, the more copies you buy, the less you pay per copy.
You also need a clean, dry place to store the reproductions flat until you sell them.
My personal advice on bulk reproductions is to market them in advance. Promote the piece you want to market and give people the opportunity to buy in advance.
Then order enough to fill those orders and a few extra to continue to market. You could very well get enough advance sales to pay for the printing. The more copies you sell in advance, the fewer you have to store.
If you decide to purchase only enough to fill the orders you get, you don’t need storage space.
So What’s the Bottom Line on Finding a Printing Company?
This is a two-step process. Decide what you want to have reproduced, then decide how you want to reproduce it.
Keep in mind that there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods I’ve discussed here.
It’s also important to take your schedule into consideration. If you really want to enter the print market, but you don’t have time to package and ship orders or deal with customers, then print-on-demand is the best option.
The choice is yours. Selling reproductions of your best work can generate a good income, but it’s not easy. Nor is it pain free.
So consider all the options, then choose wisely, and you’ll be ahead a step or two from the start.
This is valuable info if I ever wanted to go this direction. Thank you for covering so many areas of art interest in your posts. They always make for good reading and consideration.
In the past, I’ve ordered prints through Shutterfly and they’ve always turned out pretty good. Anymore, I print my own and use cardstock paper. This works pretty well for me. I just have a budget Canon printer my wife picked up for me on Black Friday a couple years ago.
Your method is another way to have reproductions made, but the lady who asked the question specifically asked for options other than doing her own printing.
Personally, I understand that. In my experience, setting up images to print correctly, calibrating the printer to correctly print the colors, buying the archival ink, good paper, and packaging materials was just more than I wanted to get involved with.
Besides that, I’ve always done better selling originals than reproductions.
So it’s all a matter of an artist’s outlook, marketing plans, and preferences.
I agree. I sell originals better. But occasionally I have customers ask for prints and most of my customers aren’t too picky so I sell copies pretty cheap. Out here in rural SE Iowa, it’s not exactly a great marketplace for art.