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1. Difference between prints vs. originals

How to make prints of your art (and sell them): 2024 guide

Artists no longer have to part with their treasured creations to turn a profit. Thanks to online selling, it's easy to digitize artwork and sell prints that are near-exact replicas of your original artwork. According to Coherent Market Insights, the digital art market is expected to reach USD 12.1 Bn by 2030, indicating incredible growth potential for artists worldwide.

This also means that rather than investing in an expensive large-format inkjet printer and dedicating your time and money to distributing your own prints, print on demand services can do most of the work for you.

It's an easy solution that artists everywhere can benefit from: create your art, digitize it, and upload it to your online store. When a purchase is made, your print supplier handles all the processing and fulfillment, leaving you to focus on your creativity and interacting with customers.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Artists can digitize and sell art prints online, utilizing print on demand services for production and fulfillment, expanding market reach, and offering affordable art options.

  • The choice of materials, such as matte or glossy paper, canvas, fine art paper, metal, or acrylic, significantly impacts the appearance and quality of art prints.

  • The process of creating and selling digital prints involves scanning or photographing original art, editing for quality, selecting a print on demand supplier, and choosing appropriate print materials.

  • Platforms for selling art include online marketplaces like Etsy, ecommerce platforms like Shopify, or personal websites, each offering different levels of customization and audience reach.

  • Effective promotion through social media, email marketing, and community engagement, combined with strategic pricing methods like tiered pricing and psychological pricing, enhances sales potential.

  • Protect digital artwork from theft with watermarks and copyright registration, and ensure art prints are high-quality (300 dpi) and well-packaged for shipping.

Difference between prints vs. originals

side-by-side examples of an original artwork and its printed reproductions

Originals are unique, hand-crafted pieces, often commanding higher prices due to their exclusivity and the artist's direct involvement. In contrast, prints are reproductions, often created in larger quantities, making them more affordable and accessible to a broader audience.

While originals are sought after for their authenticity and potential investment value, prints offer a way for enthusiasts to own art at a lower cost.

Advantages of selling prints of your art

Selling prints can be a strategic way for artists to reach more customers and generate steady income alongside the premium market for their original works. Let's look at some of the main advantages of selling art prints.

  • Affordable art options: They provide a budget-friendly choice for art enthusiasts, making art accessible to more people.

  • Consistent revenue stream: Selling prints can offer a more stable and regular income compared to the sporadic sale of originals.

  • Brand expansion: Artists can expand their brand presence as more people can purchase and display their work.

  • Risk reduction: With lower production costs, artists face less financial risk compared to investing time and resources in a single original piece.

  • Versatility in sizes and formats: Prints can be offered in various sizes and formats, catering to diverse customer preferences and space constraints.

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Impact of different materials on art print appearance and choosing the best medium

different art print materials like matte paper, glossy paper, canvas, and fine art paper

When it comes to art prints, the material used can significantly impact the final appearance of the work. Different materials not only offer various textures and finishes but also affect the color absorption and overall aesthetic of the print. Understanding these nuances is key to selecting the best medium for your art prints.

Types of print materials and their impact

  1. Matte paper: Matte paper is ideal for highly detailed or soft, subtle artwork as it minimizes glare and maintains color depth. This paper is suitable for artwork that emphasizes form and contour over color intensity.

  2. Glossy paper: Glossy paper is perfect for photographs and artworks with rich, deep colors. However, it can create glare under certain lighting conditions.

  3. Canvas: Printing on canvas adds a textured, painterly feel to art prints. It's excellent for reproductions of oil and acrylic paintings, giving a gallery-like quality. Canvas prints are also durable and don’t glare under light.

  4. Fine art paper (archival paper): Fine art papers are high-quality and acid-free, ensuring longevity. They offer a smoother finish than canvas and are perfect for detailed works. The color reproduction on fine art paper is exceptional, making it a favorite for gallery displays.

  5. Metal prints: Metal prints bring a modern and sleek look with vibrant colors and a sense of depth. They are durable and resistant to elements, ideal for contemporary artwork and photographic prints.

  6. Acrylic prints: Acrylic prints offer a glossy finish and create an illusion of depth, enhancing color luminosity. They're suited for vibrant artwork and modern photography, adding a sophisticated touch.

Choosing the best medium for your art

  • Consider the artwork’s style: The medium should complement the artwork’s style. For instance, canvas suits painterly styles, while glossy paper is better for vibrant photographs.

  • Think about longevity: If you aim for archival quality, opt for materials like fine art paper that ensure durability and fade resistance.

  • Understand the display environment: Consider where the print will be displayed. For brightly lit areas or outdoor settings, glare-resistant materials like matte paper or metal prints are advisable.

  • Determine the look you’re going for: If it's a contemporary, sleek appearance, metal or acrylic prints are excellent choices. For a classic, timeless look, canvas or fine art paper works well.

  • Test samples: Before finalizing, it’s a good practice to print test samples on different materials. This approach allows you to see and feel how your artwork translates onto each medium.

  • Balance cost and quality: While higher-quality materials like fine art paper and canvas might cost more, they offer a better appearance and longevity. Decide based on a balance of your budget and the desired quality of the final print.

How to create prints to sell step-by-step

Creating digital art of your original artwork is a great way to reach a broader audience. It increases the accessibility of your art to all four corners of the globe and can become a very profitable portion of your art business.

This section covers how to create and sell art prints, one step at a time.

1. Digitize your art

digitze art

The first step in selling prints of your art is to digitize the original artwork you want to sell online. Creating digital copies of your art is pretty simple; here's what you need to do.

Scan your art

You'll need a scanner to create a quality digital version of your art that people will want to buy. There are many great options for quality scanners, but most illustrators and designers opt for Epson or Canon brands when scanning their creations.

After you scan the art onto your computer, clean up any marks on the file that may have transferred over during scanning. Clean up the paper background and select an image resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) for optimal print quality.

Take a photo of your art

Many artists choose to take photographs of their artwork; this medium works best for larger prints that can't be scanned, as well as for images that have a shine or glare from paint mediums, metallic pigments, and gold leaf.

To take accurate, high-quality photographs of your artwork, it's best to hang it on a wall with lots of natural light. If you have a decent camera (at least a 12-megapixel camera is ideal) and a tripod, your final image will look even better.

Edit your art print

After capturing your artwork through photography, use a program like Adobe Photoshop or a similar photo editing tool to fine-tune the images. This process involves correcting any color discrepancies to accurately reflect the original art's hues and tones. Additionally, cropping the image to the desired frame and composition is vital for aesthetic appeal.

It's essential to work with a high-resolution image, ideally at a minimum of 72 dpi (dots per inch), to achieve the best fine art print quality. This resolution ensures that the prints retain clarity and detail, mirroring the intricacies of your original artwork.

2. Choose a print on demand supplier

choose POD

Selling prints online is easy when you partner with a print on demand supplier. Artists can upload a digital image of their artwork, and once a customer purchases it, the print company will immediately print the art, fulfill the order, and ship it out.

Here's what to look for in print on demand services as you shop around.

Print on demand services

When evaluating various print on demand services, artists need to consider each company's product selection and quality. Consider the types of physical art you want to sell, whether it's posters, framed posters, canvas or acrylic prints, wood or aluminum, etc.

You should also consider the shipping rates and locations of each printing company. Some companies, like Gelato, work with fulfillment partners around the globe to offer cost-effective shipping rates and get your work to customers faster.

Gelato print on demand

For artists, there's no better option in a printing company than Gelato. As a print shop, Gelato can help you offer high-quality prints to customers. Artists can sell digital art prints of their work without worrying about spending time creating art. Since it's now in a digital format, customers can purchase and receive the art quickly.

From ready-to-hang posters to modern acrylic prints, canvas, and more, you'll have ample customization options if you select Gelato as your print on demand supplier.

3. Select your print materials

select print materials

You've got your art prints selected and photographed or scanned, and you've chosen a printing company to work with, so now it's time to determine which products you want to apply your art to.

Test your art on different items

Upload a high-quality digital file of your scanned or photographed artwork so you can begin testing it on different products.

If you are sticking to selling only prints of your art, read up on the various types of paper the print company offers, so you know what will look best with your art.

Want to expand your audience? Test your art on various products, including home decor, clothing, or phone cases, to see how it looks in smaller formats and materials.

Consider what items are trending online, like tote bags or custom hoodies. For example, if you use your original paintings, add the image to different color tote bags to see how they look. This way, you can select a few color options to cater to a broader audience and modify the look and feel of your art on different backgrounds.

Order samples

Once you've determined which products you want to sell, order samples of every product you'll offer in your shop. From totes to t-shirts, mugs, test prints, and calendars, you'll want to see firsthand how your art prints look on different items.

When your samples arrive, take high-resolution photographs of each product so you can use them in your product listings in your store.

4. Pick a selling platform

pick a selling platform

The next big to-do item is to find a platform to sell prints and other merchandise. The popular places to sell prints and other items online are ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy and eBay and ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. You can also create your own website to sell your art.

Both marketplaces and ecommerce platforms have their own perks and flaws, so let's discuss those here to determine which platform is best for you.

Ecommerce marketplaces

Marketplaces like Etsy are designed for creators who want to sell art prints and other handmade items. Etsy offers a simple way for sellers to connect with shoppers via their products.

Etsy has limitations on what sellers can do with their shops; there are minimal branding opportunities or customization options. You have a shop page and individual product listing pages, but there's not a lot of creative freedom for artists to showcase their skills and personality (outside of the artwork they're selling, of course).

On Etsy, sellers pay transaction fees of around 12 percent for every purchase and payment processing fee.

Ecommerce platforms

Many artists partner with ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce because they offer much more customization and ready-to-launch templates and handle all the back-end development so they don't have to.

Artists can customize a branded storefront that fits them creatively and expresses their unique perspective. Shopify also offers sellers valuable apps for marketing, reporting, operations, and more, so business owners can improve the shopping experience for customers.

Shopify also takes payment processing and transaction fees from every seller, which can add up over time if your shop sees a lot of traffic.

Your own website

Most artists dream of having a website to list and sell art prints, right? While running your website means you have total control and creative freedom, there are many hoops to jump through regarding user experience, design, and development.

If you're an artist with a coding and HTML background, hosting your website may be the right choice. Otherwise, we recommend using a platform that does some heavy lifting, so you can focus on what you do best - creating unique art for the world to see.

5. Set up your art business

the process of setting up an online art store

It's time to set up shop! Once you've chosen the platform for your online store, create an account and start setting up your website. Be sure to integrate any ecommerce plugins into your website or store that you'll need to drive sales.

Build your store

Create a memorable store name that reflects your art business and the pieces you're selling in your store. Whether you use your name or another moniker you've come up with, be sure it aligns with your messaging and the overall brand you've created. Upload the logo that you'll use on all your art pieces to create a reputable name for yourself.

Upload your products

Add your art products to your store and research how to set your prices. Be sure to cover the costs that your print on demand supplier charges so you are still profitable with every purchase. Consider the time you spent creating the art and what you want your profit margins to look like.

Add the high-resolution photos you took of your product samples and write detailed product descriptions about each product. If it's a print, describe the paper type and quality. For other merchandise like clothing, describe the material, sizing, and colors. Ensure your product descriptions contain relevant details so your customers know exactly what to expect from the purchase.

6. Promote your art prints

promote art prints

Promoting your art online may be nerve-wracking initially, but it's the most cost-effective way to get more visibility for your creations. Here are the best ways to utilize online marketing for promotion.

Social media promotion
  • Platform selection: Choose social media platforms that align with your art style and target audience. Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for visual art, while TikTok and YouTube can be used for sharing the creative process or art tutorials.

  • Content variety: Post high-quality images of your prints, behind-the-scenes creation processes, and stories or posts about your artistic journey. Videos, especially time-lapse videos of the art-making process, can engage audiences effectively.

  • Engagement and hashtags: Regularly engage with your followers through comments, direct messages, and live sessions. Use relevant hashtags (#ArtPrints, #ArtistsofInstagram, etc.) to increase the visibility of your posts.

  • Collaborations and features: Collaborate with other artists or influencers to expand your reach. Participate in art challenges or seek features on popular art pages.

  • Paid advertising: Consider using paid advertising options on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to target specific demographics and boost your reach.

Email marketing
  • Build an email list: Collect email addresses at art shows, through your website, or social media channels. Offer an incentive, like a discount on the first purchase or exclusive access to new prints.

  • Newsletter content: Send regular newsletters showcasing new prints, upcoming collections, or stories behind your artwork. Include high-quality images and direct links to purchase prints.

  • Personalization and segmentation: Personalize emails based on customer interests and previous purchases. Segment your email list to send targeted campaigns (e.g., sending information about a new landscape print series to customers who have bought similar items).

  • Promotions and exclusive offers: Use email to inform subscribers about special promotions, limited edition releases, and exclusive offers for email subscribers.

  • Analytics and feedback: Track open rates, click-through rates, and sales generated from emails to understand what resonates with your audience and adjust strategies according to art communities.

Engaging with art communities
  • Online art forums and platforms: Engage in art communities on platforms like Reddit’s r/Art, DeviantArt, or specific Facebook groups. Share your work, participate in discussions, and provide feedback to others.

  • Art fairs and exhibitions: Participate in art fairs and exhibitions to showcase your prints. These events are great for networking with other artists and art enthusiasts.

  • Workshops and webinars: Host or participate in art workshops and webinars. These can be platforms to showcase your art and discuss your process, which can attract potential buyers.

  • Collaborations with galleries: Work with local galleries for exhibitions or to sell your prints. Galleries can provide a wider audience and add credibility to your work.

  • Community projects and events: Participate in community art projects or local events. These can be excellent opportunities for exposure and to showcase your art in different settings.

Pricing art prints effectively

an artist contemplating pricing options for their art prints / an infographic detailing different pricing strategies for art prints

Determining the right price for art prints is crucial for balancing profitability with market appeal. According to an estimate by Stock Frames, artists can make up to $1000 off a single art print.

An effective pricing strategy considers various factors, including production costs, market trends, and the perceived value of the artwork.

Here are a few strategies to help you price your art prints effectively:

  • Cost-plus pricing: Start with the total cost of production and add a markup for profit. A common approach is to double the production cost, but this can be adjusted based on other factors.

  • Tiered pricing structure: Offer different sizes or editions at varying price points. This strategy caters to a broader range of customers, from budget-conscious buyers to collectors willing to invest more.

  • Dynamic pricing: Adjust prices based on demand, reputation growth, or as the edition sells out. Prices can increase as fewer prints remain available.

  • Psychological pricing: Implement pricing strategies that appeal psychologically, like pricing a piece at $99 instead of $100.

  • Discounts and promotions: Use promotional pricing for special occasions or for first-time buyers to encourage sales without permanently lowering your standard prices.

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Start selling prints of your art for a profit

Making a profit on art you've already created has never been easier than with an online store and a reliable print on demand partner.

Select your artwork, take quality photographs or scans, choose a platform to sell on and a partner to print with, and you can start making money today selling your art prints. It's really that simple!

Artists are some of the most creative human beings, and selling high-quality prints shouldn't have to be a complicated business model. With a platform like Gelato, artists can connect with customers across the globe and generate a consistent income without having to manage inventory, stress about creating art promptly, or fuss over shipping logistics.

Gelato offers convenient integrations with popular sales channels like Shopify and Etsy. Artists can easily integrate their online store with Gelato to create a seamless customer experience and enjoy a hands-off approach to selling their art.

Ready to share your beautiful artwork with the world? Start creating your own prints with Gelato's stunning and high-quality art printing services today.

Creating art prints FAQs

Can I make prints of my paintings?

Working with a print on demand company like Gelato makes fine art prints of your original paintings easy. Gelato offers various fine art paper options to create beautiful prints of your art for customers worldwide to enjoy.

As an artist, you don't have to worry about printing and shipping your paintings; you can sit back and relax, knowing a high-quality printing company handles the heavy lifting for you.

How do I turn my art into digital prints?

Turning art into digital prints can be done with a good scanner or a quality camera. Once you've digitized your artwork, you should use a photo editing program to clean up the image, adjust any color variations, and save it as a high-resolution photograph.

These steps will ensure you offer customers a high-quality print that can pass as the original artwork.

How can artists protect their digital artwork from online theft?

Artists can protect their digital artwork from online theft by using watermarks, low-resolution images for online display, and disabling right-click options on their websites. Additionally, registering their work with copyright offices and utilizing digital rights management (DRM) tools can provide legal protection and deter unauthorized use.

How do I turn my art into physical prints?

To turn your art into physical prints, first digitize your artwork using a high-quality scanner or camera. Edit the digital image for color accuracy and resolution, preferably 300 dpi for fine prints. Then, choose a reliable print-on-demand service or a professional printing company to produce the prints.

How to make artwork for printing?

When creating artwork for printing, focus on high-resolution design (at least 300 dpi) to ensure clarity and detail. Use CMYK color mode for accuracy in printed colors. Leave appropriate margins and bleed to avoid important elements being cut off during the printing process. Save your file in a print-ready format like PDF or TIFF.

How do I supply artwork for printing?

Supply artwork for printing by providing a high-resolution file, typically in PDF, TIFF, or JPEG format. Ensure the file is in CMYK color mode and includes necessary bleed and crop marks. Check with your printer for specific file requirements and proofread your artwork for errors before submission.

Where to sell artwork?

Sell artwork on online platforms like Etsy, Saatchi Art, or Artfinder for broader reach. Utilize social media channels like Instagram and Facebook to showcase your work. Consider local galleries, art fairs, and community events for physical sales. Build a personal website for direct sales and greater control over presentation and pricing.

What are the best practices for packaging and shipping art prints?

For packaging and shipping art prints, use acid-free paper to wrap the print, then place it in a plastic sleeve for protection against moisture. Use sturdy, flat mailers or tubes for shipping, depending on the print size. Include a rigid support like cardboard to prevent bending, and clearly label it as fragile.


Next steps

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