Create Fine Art prints from your Paintings – Sophie Ploeg (2023)

Art Business

(Video) Documenting your Artwork with a Digital Camera Part 1

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March 16, 2020

Creating prints from your art work is a great way to open up your sales. But once you decided to go for it, an avalanche of options appear and you might well give up before you got started.

Printing Yourself

I have toyed with the idea of offering prints from my artworks on and off over the years. Once I even invested in a fantastic printer, a library of books on the subject and started selling my own fine art prints. I learned a lot. I also learned that it wasn't for me. I now leave any fine art printing to professional companies. Not that my prints were no good, in fact I was quite pleased with them. But the amount of work involved took me away from my easel and in the end it just wasn't worth it.

Use Print-As-You-Go Companies

But besides doing it yourself there are lots of options for artists that want to sell prints of their work. There are cheap and cheerful print-as-you-go companies that produce very affordable prints, often of 'good enough' quality. There are high-end fine art printing companies that do amazing bespoke work. And there is lots in between.

Is Your Gallery Happy With You Selling Prints?

Some artists (or galleries!) do not want to go down the print route. They figure, and they might have a point, that it devalues the original. Few owners of high end art will want to know that lots of cheap prints are going round. But others feel the opposite and feel proud that the art work they own is popular but only they own the original. So whatever you decide, perhaps check with your gallery, clients, and think about who you want to sell to.

Limited and Open Editions

Do you want to offer high end limited editions or affordable unlimited editions?

A limited edition is simply a print from an original art work that will only be printed so many times. A limited edition of 20 means that there will only ever be 20 prints made. Each print will be numbered like this 1/20, 2/20, etc and once they are all sold, that's it. The fact that there are only so many of it out there makes the print more valuable and so limited editions are usually more expensive.

Create Fine Art prints from your Paintings – Sophie Ploeg (1)

Some prints of my work at the National Portrait Gallery in London

I am no print expert, you know that. But I have learned a lot when I did my own prints and I have since used various printers for prints of my own work, seen prints from fellow artists and spoken to many artists about this. So these tips below are based on that. Do add your tips in the comments!

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Photography

  • Hire a photographer/scanner, or, if you are confident with your camera and software, use a good digital camera that can provide a huge and sharp photo.
  • Ask your printing company how large a print you can get with your largest file size. Double check with other printers and your own experience. Generally, a 4000 pixel file will not print well above 80cm
  • Try to keep your file lossless: every time you save it as a jpg, it will be compressed. So only save it once, or better still, use a raw, Tiff or Photoshop format.

Editing

  • If you are photographing and editing yourself: use good photo editing software like Photoshop or Affinity Photo to edit the picture. Ask your printer what colour format/profile he prefers but most prefer simple sRGB. Check how the colours look compared to the original painting.
  • Be aware of the limitations of your own monitor. What your monitor shows might not be what the printer will produce. It might look good on your monitor, but your printing company will have a different monitor. It helps to either calibrate your monitor according to your printer's settings, or for the less technically minded, keep your monitor on its standard settings. If possible, check your image file on other computers to see how they look.
  • Always get a proof done. Order a print from your printing company, or perhaps try out a few printing companies, but keep size and cost sensible. If the colours are off, talk to your printer and see if they or you can adjust the file. Once you've got it right, the printer will often keep the file and its adjustments safe for future use.
  • If you use a ready-to-print company (like Fine Art America) make sure you check your image on different computer monitors and make sure you follows their instructions for file size, format, etc.

Pricing/Cost

  • Consider creating a limited edition: it will make the print more 'rare' and therefore worth more. Research how to set up limited editions and make sure you stick to the planned number of prints, sign and number each of them. Limited editions, however, require top quality printing from professional printing companies so be prepared to pay more.
  • Keep the value of the original painting in mind: if your painting sold (or is for sale) at $100, then there is little point in offering prints for $80. If your art sells for many thousands then a print for $10 makes little sense.
  • Consider keeping the original painting unique and one of a kind by offering only much smaller prints or a limited edition.
  • For many fans, prints are a much more affordable way to own some of your art. But don't forget the collectors of your originals!

Copyright

  • Your painting is your creation, you own the copyright. Only you can create or order prints, unless you give specific permission to others.
  • Do not change your painting in the image file: do not remove your signature or edit out a brush mark you don't like. Do not push up the contrast, or colours. Make sure the print is an exact replica of the original.
  • Sign prints outside the printed area, just under the image on the white edge. Use pencil (for some reason, this is common practice)
  • If you use a print-on-demand service who can send your prints straight the customer, you might not be able to sign. A unsigned print is not a problem, it's just that some people value a signed prints more.

Printing Companies

  • Consider using a print-on-command company, or a commercial printer as well as a fine art print specialist. If using a commercial printer see whether you can order single prints whenever an order comes in, or whether you need to buy stock. Unless you know you will be able to sell the stock, it is always wiser (but more expensive) to buy single prints per order. This way you won't end up with lots of unsold stock.
  • Use good quality matt paper: Most printers will give you a similar choice of professional photo papers. Hahnemuhle Photo Rag is a ver popular choice. Make sure it is archival, PH neutral and enhances your art work. Stay away from canvas paper unless you want your art work to look like a tacky cheap print from the supermarket.
  • Make sure your printer uses quality, archival ink. Double check whether it is waterproof and lightfast or not and pass this info on to your clients.
  • A giclee print is simply an inkjet print. A reproduction is a copy of an image. A fine art print is a good quality reproduction of an art work. Don't use words that you cannot back up. Be honest about what you are selling, which paper you are using and perhaps even what print technology and ink your printer is using.
  • Do not sell homemade prints from normal desktop printers as if they are fine art prints comparable to professional print products. Be honest in what you are selling and consider sharing the printer and the inks that are used. Many desktop printers can produce amazing quality prints, by the way!

Framing

  • Framing prints can be done in various ways, depending on taste and budget. Note that drymounting involves glueing the print to a backing board. It might not be so easy to undo this without damaging the print. Use framing hinging tape to safely secure prints to an archival backing board. Always make sure that an art work is framed in such a way that it can be undone and reframed if required.
  • A print should be framed behind glass to protect it from dirt, damp and light damage. Use a mount or spacers to keep it away from the glass. A little bit of space between the glass and the artwork helps to avoid mould growth.

Do You Sell Prints of Your Work?

I have created a survey for aritsts that do offer prints/reproductions of their work in order to learn what the common practices are. If you offer reproductions to your customers, please help us all by filling it in. The survey is completely anonymous.

So far the results are roughly like this:

  • Nearly half of respondents sell paintings in the $0 - $1000 price range
  • 70% creates prints on demand and do not have prints in stock
  • The majority offer either very low priced prints ($10-$50) or very high priced prints (>$500)
  • Almost half say the size of the print does not matter
  • The majority gets their prints done from online printers
  • 30% sells the prints on their own website. Others use galleries, print websites, gallery website, etc.
  • The majority sells limited edition prints
  • Most but by far not all photograph their paintings themselves
  • The majority signs their prints

I hope these tips will help you decide whether to offer prints or not. Or, if you are offering prints to your customers, perhaps you can add some of your own tips? Do leave them in the comments below.

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About the author

Sophie

Sophie is an art historian, artist, art tutor, and writer. She writes on art history and painting (oils and pastel). The 17th century is probably her favourite era, although the ancient Romans are currently fighting for the lead spot. She is currently researching lace in Tudor portraiture.

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  1. Hi Sophie,
    I have commissioned an oils on board portrait of my brother but need 3 excellent copies for his children . I have no clue how to go about this or which process should be used. Or which company.
    Can you advise me, please?

    Reply

    1. You will have to talk to the artist you have commissioned as copyright for the painting lies with him/her. The artist might be willing to supply a scan of the painting which you take to a printing company. But this is up to the artist.

      Reply

  2. Thank you for sharing your insight and knowledge.
    Ie. Soacers between print and glass.
    File preference, ink quality and paper acidity.
    Sid

    Reply

    (Video) Colour mixing in pastel: trailer for eCourse

FAQs

How do I turn my artwork into a print? ›

The first thing you need to do is to digitise your artwork i.e. create a digital file from the original canvas/sheet of paper. You can either do this yourself with the help of a good scanner or you can employ a photographer/print shop with a large scale scanner to do this for you.

How do artists get prints of their work? ›

Print-On-Demand services

Print-on-demand companies allow you to upload a digital copy of your artwork, where the customer can then pick from a variety of products to have the work printed onto. Once the item is physically made, it is shipped out to your customer without you ever having to do anything.

How do I get a digitized painting? ›

Quick Recap
  1. Scan into TIFF file size.
  2. Scan into at least 300 DPI.
  3. CIS scanners are cheaper, CCD scanners are better for textures.
  4. Spray fixative to any smudgeable media before you scan.
  5. If working with larger artworks, scan into pieces and stitch them together in Photoshop.
19 Apr 2019

Are painting reproductions worth it? ›

The majority of reproductions of famous paintings have little value. For example, John Constable's painting The Haywain is a priceless masterpiece, but prints which are copies of this painting are of no real value and are not expected to increase in value over time.

Where can I get prints made of my artwork? ›

Best Places to Get Art Prints Made
  • Printful. If you're looking for a printing service that offers a wide range of products and services, Printful is a great option. ...
  • Candela. ...
  • ReedPhoto. ...
  • MPix. ...
  • CVS Canvas Prints. ...
  • CanvasOnDemand.
9 Feb 2022

Can I take a picture of a painting and print it? ›

You should not just take a photograph of your works and use that for art reproduction. The odds you will be able to do this up to a sufficient level of quality - one that reflects that work you put in to your original works, is very low. Even if you have a 'good camera' and some photographic skill.

Can I make prints of a painting I bought? ›

You should scan or photograph your original artwork before it is sold as the new owner is under no obligation to allow access once the sale is complete. Remember, it is only polite to inform a purchaser if you intend to reproduce an original that they have just purchased.

How much do prints cost to make? ›

The average cost to print a page on a laser printer is around 5- to 8-cents for black and white, and between 12- and 15-cents for color laser prints. However, the cost of color print can rise as high as 60-cents per page for photos and heavy graphics.

Can you sell prints of a painting you own? ›

One thing to keep in mind, as the artist YOU hold the copyright of your artwork. Not the buyer. Unless you give consent, they can not make prints. You are always going to be the copyright holder which means you are the only one who CAN legally make prints.

How do I convert handmade art to digital? ›

You can do this using a traditional scanner, scanning at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (DPI). Or, if you don't have a scanner, you can use a smartphone to take a picture of the drawing. Whichever method you use, save the image as the highest possible quality and email or AirDrop it to yourself.

How do I convert traditional art to digital? ›

The easiest way to turn your physical art copies to digital art is using scanners and cameras, just for the sake of having digital copies. This is a safe way of having copies in case something happens to the originals.

How do you make high quality digital prints? ›

Here are some guidelines for getting the best quality prints from your photos:
  1. Start with the right size and shape. ...
  2. Understand DPI and PPI. ...
  3. Get a 300 DPI file. ...
  4. Apply some Sharpening. ...
  5. Download as a PNG + print. ...
  6. Check the DPI before you print.

Should I sell my original paintings or prints? ›

It's an original. When you sell original art, it has a higher value than a print. It's unique and buyers will pay more for the exclusivity of being the only one to own that piece of work.

Do painting prints crack? ›

Unintentional cracking or crazing often happen during the painting process when the artist least expects it. Some are the result of applying a paint, gel or medium a bit too generously, and others happen because external factors such as temperature, humidity and air flow are not taken into account.

Is it better to buy a canvas or print? ›

Canvas Prints vs Framed Prints

If you are looking for a short answer, it all comes down to personal preference. That being said, you should take into consideration the final location of where the canvas print or framed print will be hung, your budget, and the room's specific interior design style.

Does Staples make prints of art? ›

Staples is one of my go to printing spots as they are affordable and quick! You can get prints with a same day turnaround is ordered by 2pm! For printing 8x10 prints Staples is who I go to. When you pick up your order, be sure to review your prints.

Do artists make their own prints? ›

Because the cost to use a commercial printing company can be expensive, many artists opt to make their own prints.

Are prints cheaper than paintings? ›

So often people find a piece of art they love, but it has sold, or it's simply outside of their budget. In this case, a fine print of the original is a great choice, and usually significantly less in cost. 2.

Is it better to scan or photograph art for prints? ›

The Bottom Line. Having a professional printer scan your artwork is typically the preferred method. It's easier, and you get better quality. We're happy to scan your original artwork at Ego id Media to produce a high-resolution digital version with color accuracy.

How much does it cost to scan a painting? ›

A single Scan Cost: covering an area of up to 36″x48″ is $90.00.
...
Please use our Drop-Off Form before coming.
Approximate Image SizeImages Per ScanCost
8×10 – 11×144$120.00
16×20 – 18×242$90.00
24×36 – 36″x48″1$90.00
48×48 – 40″x60″1$140.00
3 more rows

How do I take pictures of my artwork? ›

ADDITIONAL ARTWORK PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS:
  1. Use bright, indirect natural lighting.
  2. Natural light fluorescent bulbs can also be a good choice.
  3. Avoid deep shadows and dappling effects.
  4. Position the lights and the artwork carefully before taking the photo. ...
  5. Soften the glare and intensity by diffusing the light source.
13 May 2020

How do I turn my artwork into products? ›

Artists looking to make their way into merchandising their work could apply to a publishing/licensing company or seek print-on-demand options. Research the companies to make sure they meet your expectations and are a good fit for your business. Learn to take great images of your art or hire a professional.

Do I own the copyright to a painting I bought? ›

If you buy a piece of artwork, you will own the art, but you will not own the copyright to it unless the artist has specifically transferred the copyright to you.

How much do you have to change artwork to avoid copyright? ›

Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent. See Circular 14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works and Compilations.

Is it cheaper to print or copy? ›

If many copies are to be published, then copiers are usually a cheaper option. However, if only a few pages need to be printed, then printing becomes much cheaper. Another major difference between the printer and the copier is quality.

What is the most cost effective way to print? ›

Here are the best ways to cut the cost of printing:
  1. Go to printer ink refill shops. ...
  2. Sell old printer cartridges online. ...
  3. Buy cheap printer paper in bulk. ...
  4. Buy a printer with your housemates to share the costs. ...
  5. Make your document smaller. ...
  6. Print in draft mode.
28 Mar 2022

Does selling prints make money? ›

Even though there is a lot of competition in the fine art marketplace, selling original art prints can be profitable if you do it correctly. The good news is that you don't have to rely on original artwork sales alone for financial stability in your artistic career.

What size should I sell my art prints? ›

These are the best standard sizes for smaller art prints: 10″ x 8″ and 10″ x 12″, and for larger prints choose 16″ x 20″ frames. A 10″ X 8″ frame will frame 3 smaller sizes of art. A 10″ x 12″ frame will frame 4 different sizes of art.

Can you sell a painting that you painted if it is based on a picture you didn't take? ›

When an artist uses a photograph for reference, the painting or artwork is called a derivative work. While the artist can maintain some ownership over their own work, they first need permission from the original photographer to use the photo for reference.

Can I convert a picture into digital art? ›

Turn your photos into digital art with PicMonkey's digital art maker tools. Add easy-to-use effects and customize — you'll have something worthy of an art gallery wall in no time. Try PicMonkey for free today!

Can Fine Arts be digital? ›

So, can fine art be digital? in a word, the answer is yes. As the culture demands the digitization of art and falls in and out of love with new technology, fine art will birth digital art. Of course, it will not do this without a preface or disclaimer.

How do I digitize artwork without Photoshop? ›

How to Digitize Lettering Without Photoshop
  1. Before we begin, here's what you need:
  2. Step 1: Letter your piece.
  3. Step 2: Scan your lettering.
  4. Step 3: Open Inkscape.
  5. Step 4: Trace.
  6. Step 5: Adjust settings.
  7. Step 6: Process the trace.
  8. Step 7: Make fun edits.
29 Aug 2019

Can you turn traditional art into NFT? ›

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are one-of-a-kind digital assets. Given they're digital in nature, can physical works of art be turned into NFTs? The short answer is that yes, physical artworks can be minted and sold online as NFTs.

How can I turn a photo into a digital illustration? ›

Turn photos into illustration in 5 easy steps
  1. Open your image in PicMonkey.
  2. Apply the Edge Sketch effect.
  3. Add an artistic touch with Posterize.
  4. Adjust Exposure and Colors for a polished look.
  5. Download, upload, and share for all to see. Voila!
8 Apr 2022

What is the highest quality of print? ›

“Best” or “High” quality produces the highest quality print and uses the most ink. Choose this for photos or presentation-grade prints.

How can I print art without losing quality? ›

How to Enlarge an Image in Photoshop
  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Go to the Image Size dialog, check resample, and select "Preserve Details" in the corresponding dropdown menu.
  3. Make sure the Resolution is set to 300 Pixels/Inch.
  4. Set Width and Height to inches and adjust to enlarge your image.

How do I know if my art is good enough to sell? ›

But just because people aren't buying your work doesn't mean your work is not good enough to sell. If you are getting validation in the form of likes, comments, and followers, you are good enough to be selling your work. But to get sales you actually have to make sales. Just making art is not enough.

How do artist make their prints more valuable? ›

Like all artworks, fine art prints are more valuable when they are hand-signed by the artist. (It doesn't matter much if the signature is located on the front of the print, the back of the print, or on its accompanying Certificate of Authenticity.)

Do prints hold their value? ›

Prints can in fact be very valuable, especially those by renowned artists, rare prints or old prints in good condition. Prints are a bit of a minefield when it comes to the value, which is often based on the production process and the artist's involvement in the creation of the print.

Are prints of famous paintings tacky? ›

Are Art Prints of Famous Paintings Tacky? This one is a no-brainer because you can't ever go wrong with an art print, as long as it's framed. In my opinion, and the opinion of many art buyers, framed art prints never look tacky no matter the subject of the artwork.

What can ruin a painting? ›

Heat can lead to thermal tensions, moisture reductions, and even chemical reactions within paintings that can damage both the paint layer and the support, sometimes even irreversibly. Excessive heat can damage the support by causing creases, warping, weakening and breaking of the fibers.

How do you know if a painting is successful? ›

In the end, what makes a painting successful is that its composition, color, and subject matter all work harmoniously to deliver a unified and well-executed artwork.

Do canvas prints look blurry? ›

It will look blurry and pixelated as below. If you click the image and zoom in on it you will see that the edges are blurry and the photo lacks detail. Canvas as a material is rather forgiving, but this photo will definitely not look good once it is printed on to a photo canvas print.

What is the difference between photo print and canvas print? ›

The difference between canvas prints and posters is simple enough: With canvas prints your photo is printed on canvas fabric, but with posters your photo is usually printed on paper. Meanwhile a canvas print is wrapped on a wooden stretcher frame, but a poster is usually a single layer of paper.

Do canvas prints look better framed? ›

Finishing with a frame creates a polished look for canvas prints. If you are showcasing many prints on the same wall, framing them all with the same wood unifies the artwork, no matter their style or subject.

What should I save my digital art as for printing? ›

For printing photographic works or print files based on scanned images of artworks, TIFF or PDF file types would be most appropriate. As mentioned previously, TIFF files are of a very high quality, but also tend to be much larger in size which can be problematic when it comes to file storage.

How can I print my art for free? ›

The Best Resources for Free Printable Art
  1. Unsplash. Don't expect to find any cheesy stock photography here (think, a smiling businessman in suit giving a thumbs up). ...
  2. The Met Museum Collection. ...
  3. Nasa Galleries. ...
  4. Pixabay. ...
  5. Pexels. ...
  6. Kaboompics. ...
  7. Stocksnap. ...
  8. Life of pix.
29 May 2019

Do artists sell prints of their paintings? ›

Printing At Home – Many artists have started printing reproductions of their creations at home and marketing them in online art galleries, craft shows, and small local businesses. Ink printers have come a long way and are now more affordable for artists. Many printers can print on canvas as well as fine art paper.

How do I convert regular art to digital art? ›

You can do this using a traditional scanner, scanning at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (DPI). Or, if you don't have a scanner, you can use a smartphone to take a picture of the drawing. Whichever method you use, save the image as the highest possible quality and email or AirDrop it to yourself.

What format is best for art prints? ›

TIFF is the most universal and most widely supported format across all platforms, Mac, Windows, Unix. It's used for storing original images or artwork so they can be manipulated or saved as other formats at a later date.

What type of print is best for art? ›

Alpha-Cellulose Papers

They are matte papers that have been refined to remove acid and lignin. This paper is usually used for fine art prints. It is often less expensive and has a sturdier feel than cotton rag.

Can you use a regular printer for art prints? ›

You can use a basic printer and trim your art, but an art printer will accept different sizes of paper for easy production. You can use a wide-format printer to print photos up to 19 inches.

Can you make art prints on a regular printer? ›

They can certainly produce high-quality prints, but if you're looking to produce a really lifelike art print from a photograph or painting, you can typically get a higher resolution using an inkjet printer.

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