Printing Your Work
Updated: Aug 31
In this blog post, you can find information about printing your artwork, different types of printing and products, and equipment and sites to help you print your own products. Additionally, there is information on framing and hanging as well.
Printing your art can be a valuable way to sell your work, although it can come with a high up-front cost - but more often than not, that cost is paid back twice over. Printing is also a great way to continue to reproduce your favourite art piece and share your work with a larger audience without sacrificing your original copy.
Different types of prints:
You can print your artwork on a great many things, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Printing on too many different items may only cost you money, and they may not be sold as fast as you had hoped.
The best way to decide what to print on and how much to print is to start out small. Print your artwork or design on just a couple of different items in small increments, and see what your audience likes more. Keep your print numbers small and only print when you have sold out of stock.
Print Product Examples:
Wood panel prints
Where to get prints done
Getting prints done locally is a great option, but sometimes it can be the more expensive one. Local print shops or photography shops usually have professional printers staffed, and they know their stuff. This can sometimes be intimidating for artists who are unfamiliar in the print world.
If you're unsure, there are some simple notes below, but don't be afraid to ask your local print shop about their products. In my experience, they are more than happy to explain and show you the different types of products they have!
Points and Pounds: What Are They?
Points measure the actual thickness of a single sheet of paper. Each point represents 1/1000th of an inch. Some examples of common point sizes would include: 8 pt, 10 pt, 12 pt,14 pt, and 16 pt paper. The higher the point value, the thicker the paper.
Pounds, on the other hand, are measured by weight. Specifically, how much a ream of paper (around 500 sheets) weighs altogether. For your everyday paper, the weight range is between 20 to 80 pounds, and for cardstock, it ranges from 50 to 140 pounds.
What is archival paper and why should you care?
Archival paper is most commonly sought after by artists. It is a type of paper that is more durable to the stressors of time. There are technically two types of paper you're looking for when creating your art and prints. Firstly, acid-free paper is quite durable compared to most other qualities of paper, but furthermore, paper made from cotton fibers (cotton rag) are even better quality and durability.
The best pairing is to combine your archival paper with archival ink when producing your art and/or prints. There are of course different standards for it, and most print shops will offer some type of archival ink. If you are printing from home, the Canon LUCIA Ink system is highly recommended.
Pearl versus gloss finish
Pearl print finishes are good for prints that are going to be framed behind glass, because pearl is less reflective, it can be viewed from many angles. It is more recommended for selling purposes.
Gloss finish, as the name implies, is glossy. It can enhance colours and make your prints look more vibrant, but the finish can be reflective and pick up fingerprints and smudges much more easily.
Ordering your prints online is the more cost-effective way to go for emerging artists, but you may also find that the quality of your print may be at stake.
You can also look into your local office supply stores or chain grocers to look at their online print options. Some popular places to consider are Staples Photo Printing, Walmart Photo Center, Costco Photo Center, or London Drugs Photolab. These locations usually offer both pick-up and shipping options for orders.
Printing At Home:
If you're willing to invest in it, there are a few printers and products that can take an artist a long way.
Frames and matting are like the icing on your artistic cake. Your choices in frames and colors can really be the selling point that ties your vision together in a neat little bow. The general rule of neutral colors can be a good place to start, but when you have a very specific piece that needs to stand out, using frames and mattes is just one of the ways you can do that.
As tempting as it may be to set your artwork in a unique frame, something too elaborate may only distract the viewer from your work, and possibly even take away form your piece. Choosing simple colors and materials that complement your work can go just as far as that expensive frame you were eyeing.
The matte is the material used to surround your artwork between your piece and the frame. Usually, they are only a handful of different, neutral colours. Most people tend to choose classics like black or white, sometimes even an off-white or beige to surround their art - as not to distract or take your attention away from the artwork. Most galleries will also only accept a certain matte type when displaying, so be sure to check if you have your eye on any galleries.
Although, sometimes using a non-neutral colour can be the difference between making a piece stand out, and having it be just another framed artwork. There is something bold and extravagant about something that lies outside of the 'norm', so don't be afraid to experiment. Ultimately, you are the artist, that that is your work.
Hanging Your Work
Being able to hang your artwork is possibly the most important aspect to finalize your piece. Typically the artwork is hung by picture wire or cord between two pieces of hardware, some examples can be found below:
Hanging Small Works:
D-rings are a very common type of hanging hardware used by professional picture framers and also available to all artists via retailers. They are usually more durable and preferred. D-rings come in many different shapes and sizes, but are still only good for medium pieces of work.
Screw-eyes are small hardware pieces that are screwed into the backs of canvases and frames. These are typically only used for hanging smaller works of art. If you use screw-eyes on larger pieces of work, you increase the chance of them being pulled out of your canvas or frame because they are unable to hold the weight.
Hanging Large Works
This piece of hardware is a flat steel plate with a hanging loop at one end which is fixed to either side of the back of the picture frame. It's often plated in brass or nickel and has at least two and often three holes to ensure a secure fixing should any one screw work lose. The hardware can either have a d-ring at the end of it, or a straphanger with a square hanging loop.
When hanging a heavy piece, there is no picture wire or cord used to hang the item. Instead the piece is placed directly onto two J-hooks that are secured to a wall or display surface.
Heavy work should also be hung with two people, to ensure the absolute safety of the people hanging, and also to not damage the artwork.