Updated: Oct 18, 2022
First things first…you’re definitely going to need a printer
Choosing the right printer can be a daunting task! There are so many choices when it comes to size, brand and ink types. Here are a few things that can help you narrow down your search:
SIZE: How big would you like to print? Most professional quality photo printers can print 13” wide and some can print up to 17” wide.
Printers that can go beyond 17” are an exponentially larger investment in terms of dollars and space.
When starting, I recommend sticking to 16x20" prints or smaller and outsourcing your larger prints.
BRAND: The most trusted names in professional photo printers are Epson and Canon. I highly recommend sticking to a well known brand because there are a lot of resources online to help you troubleshoot any issues that you encounter.
INK: The two main choices of ink are inkjet inks and dye-based inks. The Epson Surecolor ink uses inkjet technology with 10 different color cartridges. Their ink is archival and creates a wide range of vivid colors. The Canon Pixma range uses dye-based inks, which also create rich color but are slightly less archival.
MY PRINTER: The Epson Surecolor P900 prints up to 17” wide but still fits comfortably on a desk. The colors are insanely bright and saturated and customer service has been a lifesaver at least twice.
For something a bit more affordable, the P700 prints up to 13”.
Now it’s time to get that paper!
The subject of paper could fill an entire blog post, so I’m going to keep this simple The absolute best place to purchase paper on the internet is Red River Paper Catalog. Their quality, customer service, prices, choices, and resources are unmatched.
PAPER TYPES: When choosing your paper, you will have the choice of gloss, satin, or matte. Gloss is typically reserved for photos so you’ll really be choosing between satin or matte:
Works well for deep or saturated colors
Looks highly professional
Creates highly nuanced pinks, reds, and oranges
Creates bright, high contrast colors
Dries quickly and is easy to handle
Any amount of dust can affect print quality so you need to be extra careful when handling
MY PAPER: I use the 68 lb. Ultra Pro Satin 4.0 for general use. If you are prepared to be vigilant about dust, then I suggest the Arctic Polar Matte 60 lb. paper. The matte paper is stunning; however, I found that if any dust got on the paper, my print would chip immediately.
PAPER SIZES: I have found that if I purchase 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 12x12, and 16x20, I can cover all my bases. Then I use a large guillotine paper slicer to create any size print.
RESOURCES: Check out all of Red River Paper Catalog’s online resources! I've linked a few that I found helpful below:
*A note on the cost of ink: It is expensive! Resist the temptation to buy off-brand ink cartridges. Printers are fragile, finicky machines and off-brand ink could cost you your printer!
CAMERA: Unless you are a digital artist, you will need to photograph or scan your work so that you have a digital copy of it. Most people will tell you that you need to buy either a camera or a scanner to get high resolution pictures.
However, I have found an app that will allow you get a 32MP picture using your phone! It is called Hydra and is $2.99 in the App Store - a significantly smaller investment than a camera.
Lightroom: Allows you to adjust the light and color so that it matches the original work. I highly recommend both photographing and editing in natural light. Tip: make sure the brightness on your phone or computer is all the way up.
Snapseed: another photo editing tool. It has a few advanced features not available in Lightroom like adjusting perspective, brush tools, and selective tools.
Procreate: I use procreate for editing the aspect ratios and adding borders prior to printing.
Canva: I use Canva to create mockups of all my images. I prefer mockups because it allows my pictures to have a uniform look and I can edit both the image of the frame and the painting image separately so that they both look their best!
Clear bags for keeping your prints safe and dry in transit
Cardboard backing board for keeping small prints flat during shipping
Rigid mailers for 11x14" prints or smaller
Mailing tubes for larger prints
Do Not Bend stickers
I purchase my thank you cards through Canva
I hope this helps kick start your print shop! I am always available for questions via email or on Instagram!