Coming up with a plan.

Welcome!  Thanks for joining me!

Today I’m going to skip ahead a bit.  I know that a lot of people need more editing help, and I promise I have a list of common issues that I want to cover.  But I know some people already know the editing part and are ready to get to the print making.  So I’ll divert a bit from my original plan and then go back to more editing.  Please let me know if you have anything else you want me to cover.

If you remember back a few posts, we had a checklist of the steps involved with making prints.  (If this is your first post you’re reading that’s ok too!)  Our simplified checklist now looks like this:

Completed artwork

Way to take a picture

Program to edit photo

Edit photo

Method to print (either a printer or company to outsource)

So we are on to printing!  Yea!

Hold on a second.  Not quite yet.  (What?!  Such a bummer!)  The checklist above is super simplified and there is another step in there.

What are you going to print?  You have a completed piece of artwork, but you need a plan.

What size are you going to print?  How many?  What are you planning to do with the prints?  Are you making prints to sell, or do you just want to give them as gifts or hang on your own walls?  What kind of paper do you want to print on?  Do you want photographic prints or giclees or greeting cards or all of the above?  Do you want your prints to come to the edges of the paper, or do you want a border?  Are you going to do limited edition or open run prints?  How much control do you want in the process and how hands on do you want to be?  Do you want to print yourself?  Do you want to drop ship your prints?  Do you want another company to handle everything for you?

I know it seems overwhelming, but these are all questions that need to be thought about and answered.  You could probably get away with answering these questions later, but I promised I’d share my experiences and I wish I had even known to think of those questions to start with.  I’m sure I missed a few in there, but I’ll try to break down each question a bit.

So what are you going to print?  Decide which pieces of work you want prints of.  It may seem like a silly question, but I don’t make prints of everything.  I create a lot of “stuff”.  Not all of it is print worthy.

What size are you going to print?  I decided when I first started that I wanted to make original size copies of my work and greeting cards.  Many of my drawings are 11×14, so I want my prints to be 11×14.  (I may change this at some point, but for now, that’s my plan.)  If you want to make various sizes that’s fine, but you just have to decide on which sizes you want.  Some people have a lot of variations here, 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, and so on.  These are just common sizes for frames so I’m using them as examples.  I decided to stick with one size to start with.

Are you planning to sell your prints, or just have them for your own use?  Yes, it makes a difference.  If I’m ordering to sell, my standards are higher.  If I’m ordering a greeting card to send to someone for fun, then there are things that maybe don’t matter so much in the process.

What kind of paper do you want to print on?  Do you want photographic prints or giclees or greeting cards or all of the above?  Paper is a long topic, and I’ll cover it much more in another post.  What’s the difference between photographic prints and giclee?  My super simple version:  photographic is a photo type print, and giclee is printed on either a watercolor or canvas type of paper.  Hmm, that’s not really a good explanation if you have never heard of these terms.  So a bit more detail.  Giclee is a French term that means spray of ink (loosely translated) and they are printed on ink jet printers using high quality archival inks.  They are a bit more expensive to have printed, but they sell for more then as well.  There is an air of prestige attached to the term.  A photographic print is a photograph.  Sort of.  My photographic prints are printed on an ink jet printer, using high quality archival inks, and I could use any paper I wanted (well, maybe not any) to print on.  I can use a watercolor paper or canvas or card stock or photo paper.

So what is the difference really and what should you choose?  I don’t know.  I’ve researched the topic to death.  It seems the difference used to be a lot greater before printer technology improved in the last years.  It’s much more about the name now it seems.  If colorfast and archival are the main goals there isn’t a difference necessarily.  But I prefer photographic prints.  Someone who prefers giclees will have a different opinion and is probably screaming at their computer that I’m wrong.  Research the difference and decide for yourself.

Why do I like photographic prints?  A couple of reasons.  I like the way my prints look on the paper.  This is a huge deal and I’ll explain more of that in a post about paper choices.  I also like the price point.  Not everyone can afford or wants to pay the cost of an original piece of work.  I want my work to be accessible to a wider range of people.  I don’t think that good artwork should only be available to those who are willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on one piece.  It’s a personal opinion type of thing.  I’m not saying everyone should do what I am doing, just trying to explain how I got to where I am.

This still doesn’t answer what kind of paper to print on.  For now you should just think about the basics of what you want here.  Picture a greeting card.  Some are glossy, some are matte.  Different types for different styles and feel.  Some are square, some are rectangle, some big, some small.  Think about which one you think fits your work.  You can change your mind at any point in the process, but for now just think about it.

Are you going to do limited edition or open run prints?  A personal preference thing once again.  But something to think about nonetheless.

Do you want your prints to come to the edges of the paper, or do you want a border?  When you go to order a print, or print it yourself, you have to decide what size of border to have around the print.  Some people like the image printed all the way to the edges.  Others like a white border.  Many artists use the white border to sign and number their prints.  Some artists just sign and number the back.  Some don’t sign or number them at all.  Personally, I like the border.  It makes handling a print so much easier.  You don’t have to worry about touching the actual artwork part.  I also find that it makes framing so much easier.  The extra paper goes under the mat and you don’t even know it’s there, but I find it easier work with. The border will require a bigger print though.  If you want a 11×14 print, you can’t use an 11×14 piece of paper.  Some people like a one inch border on every side, and then some like a half inch.  I personally let the paper decide how big my border is.  Every company has a range of sizes they offer prints in.  You have to know what size paper you want the final product to be before you can research prices.  I’ll talk more about this in my upcoming paper post.

How much control do you want in the process and hands on do you want to be?  Do you want to print yourself?  Do you want to drop ship your prints?  Do you want another company to handle everything for you?  I kind of feel like all of these are in the same general group.  When I first started in this process, I knew that I wanted to have prints made by someone else, but I wanted to be able to ship them to customers myself.  I want the customer to feel like they are interacting with the artist, and I want to have that interaction with the customer as well.  A bit sentimental maybe, but this is all about personal preference.  My plan to have my work printed by someone else failed terribly and I now print myself.  If you don’t want to be hands on there are companies that you can upload your files to their websites and they take care of everything from there.  Drop shipping isn’t for me, but if it fits what you’re looking for then that’s great.  There aren’t right or wrong answers, but you need to decide what fits your vision and plan.

So it’s a lot to think about.  I know that some of these questions can’t be answered just yet.  Some of them require some trial and error and experimenting.  They are things that are good to think about before you start in on ordering prints.

My next post will talk about things to look for in a print company.  I’ll talk about paper too.  Maybe not all in one post though, depending on how much I decide to ramble!

Thanks for reading!  If you have any questions or comments please let me know!

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