How to Create Prints of Your Art?

01/27/2023, 8:50 PM
How to Create Prints of Your Art?

Recently, we have been hearing more and more about prints in art. What is a print? This is an image that is applied to a particular surface using printing. The images are often paintings, drawings or photographs. Printing can be done on paper, fabric, canvas and other media. Prints are widely used. But one of the most common areas of their application is fashion. Today, more and more people are also talking about art prints. What it is? Why buy them? More on that — below ⬇️

What is a print and why make them?

Art traditionally “lives” not only in museums and galleries, but also “leads” active auction activities. Large auctions like Christie's or Sotheby's attract the attention of the media and both attract and repel the public. Why? The art market is traditionally characterized by high prices and large sums that collectors pay for works. And these huge funds are increasingly beginning to frighten both the public and buyers. At least, this is one of the common versions of analysts and experts, which explains why art prints are coming to the fore in the art market. However, do not think that art prints are easier than selling original works at auctions. The print market has its challenges. And today there are still many questions that need answers.

Here is what Rachel Gladfelter, director of the New York-based Pace Prints Chelsea gallery, says about art prints:
  • prints are not a reproduction of a picture and not a copy of it;
  • a print is an image that is transferred to a medium using printing techniques;
  • a print is a separate, independent work of art (despite its replication).
Circulations of art prints are always small, and each copy has a signature, which makes it unique.

art prints

Among the main printing techniques, Rachel Gladfelter names the following:
  • screen printing;
  • engraving;
  • lithography;
  • digital printing.
Going into the history of art, you can see that prints are far from a new phenomenon. Engraving and lithography are techniques that have been discovered for a long time. And for replication, you have to thank Andy Warhol. However, it is difficult to argue with the conclusion of most dealers and artists: modern art prints have greatly expanded the opportunities in the art market. And this, of course, is positive.

So, let's sum up. Art prints certainly have their advantages:

➕ it is a good and affordable alternative to the originals;
➕ prints are flexible, and have many types, techniques, sizes and materials;
➕ they can be scaled (that is, you can create many prints);
➕ each original is a potential print that can be replicated and sold.

So, for both the artist and the galleries, art prints are a business transfer to a new level.

However, art prints also have disadvantages, for example:

➖ sometimes prints reduce the value of the original;
➖ this is only profitable if you create and sell prints (printing equipment is quite expensive).

art prints

What are fine art printers?

How to create your art print? There are several steps that you need to go through to replicate your work and create prints. First, you need to find a suitable printer, that is a piece of equipment. If you are in doubt, you can always ask an artist or photographer to know where they print their work and what equipment they use. Don't forget to pay attention to reviews if you use the Internet to search.

There are several main types of printers:
  • inkjet;
  • laser.

Features of laser printers

Inkjet prints are better suited for artistic printing because laser equipment has a limited resolution — no more than 2560 dpi, and the maximum format is A3. Also, laser prints suffer from color rendition. Only an inkjet printer can print on non-typical surfaces such as canvas. This function is not available for a laser printer. In addition, laser printers are more expensive.

Features of inkjet printers

This equipment is best suited for art printing. One popular option is the Epson SC-P9500 printer. It has several advantages:
  • resolution up to 5760 dpi;
  • color rendering latitude (a skilled user can use the equipment settings to the maximum);
  • printing on a wide variety of media (paper, canvas, film, etc.) is possible.
As a rule, printing is only one of the stages of creating a print. At the final stage, posters and prints are processed with coatings: varnishes, gels, etc. Such processing brings the image as close as possible to the original — up to the creation of smears, craquelure (cracks) and other effects.

art prints

What is the best ink for fine art printing?

There are some tips from art print experts. First, for those who print a little, original cartridges are suitable. If you print from 100 prints per month, then it makes sense to buy refillable cartridges and compatible inks. Second, you should never skimp on ink. The quality of the print directly depends on this. And the cost of a print with good color reproduction and a weak one is almost the same. Therefore, it is more profitable to immediately choose high-quality ink.

There are several types of ink used for inkjet printing:
  • water-soluble;
  • pigment;
  • sublimation (water-soluble ink for sublimation printing);
  • solvent (resistant to external factors);
  • ultraviolet.
Water-soluble inks have one major advantage: they have a huge color gamut. Pigment inks, on the other hand, have a slightly lower color gamut than water-soluble inks. However, pigment inks have another advantage: they are more durable and fade less in the sun. This is their main advantage over waterproof inks.

Printers that work with pigment inks are also compatible with waterproof inks. But if the printer is “used” to working with waterproof inks, then it is not always possible to refill it with pigment inks. This is due to the technical characteristics of the equipment (the width of the channel (nozzle) of the print head).

art prints

Why are Epson printers best for art prints?

Piezo inkjet printers are most often preferred by fine art print professionals. This is the Japanese company that patented the piezo inkjet technology. How is this type of print different? And why is it important for prints? In piezo jet printing, drops are formed by compressing ink in the channels (nozzles) of the print head with a piezoelectric element. With this technology, the dye is transferred to the surface under pressure, which occurs when the membrane vibrates.

📌 A piezoelectric element is an electromechanical transducer, with the help of which mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy (direct piezoelectric effect), and electrical energy into mechanical energy (inverse piezoelectric effect). In practice, this means that an alternating current can be applied to the piezoelectric elements, under the influence of which they will contract and expand, creating vibrations.

Why is piezo inkjet printing better than other types of printing? It has several important advantages:
  • it allows you to get a higher resolution;
  • during printing, when using this technology, the ink does not heat up (therefore, this printing is suitable for sublimation);
  • piezo inkjet print heads are very durable;
  • ink cartridges are separate (that is, they can be refilled).
❗️ It is important to remember that the printer cannot be idle for a long time: the ink dries up and becomes unusable.

Sublimation printing technology involves the sublimation of dyes when heated. Pigments pass into a gaseous state while penetrating the fibers of textiles or deep into another material, a condensation process takes place there and in this process, the treated surface is painted.

art prints

How to create your art print?

1️⃣ Step one: photographing the painting. Once you have decided on the type of printer, you need to take a high-quality photo of your work of art. To print well, you need a very high-quality photo: the more pixels it has, the better. If you have the skills in image processing, and editing, then you can “wiz” the photo yourself. In addition, there are special agencies that take professional photographs of works of art.

2️⃣ Step two: select the type of print. To choose the type of printing, you need to decide:
  • with media (art paper, canvas, film, etc.);
  • with media features (matte or glossy paper, canvas with a torn edge or border, etc.).
Most often, canvas or photo paper with a 1-inch border is used. This media has a good texture, which allows the print to lie flat. If you are not sure about your choice, you can see what your colleagues are doing. Pay attention to the following questions:

❓ Do your colleagues make engravings or lithographs?
❓ What kind of media do they choose for prints?
❓ Do they sell prints framed or unframed?

3️⃣ Step three: print alignment. As a rule, a printing house or printing studio will give you a print in a tube. That is, your work is transferred to you, and rolled up into a tube. Upon receipt, you need to align it. There is a standard scheme for how to do this. Follow this instruction:
  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Find a clean, flat surface, such as glass (note that it should not contain cracks or bumps).
  3. Carefully turn the sheet face down.
  4. Take five large books and place them in the corners and the middle.
  5. Wait a few hours.
After that, you can remove the bookholders. Your print is ready. By the way, if you send a print to customers in a tube, provide them with this instruction. This will be useful to them.

4️⃣ Step four: framing the print. This step is optional. However, many artists believe that the frame is also part of the work of art. Unframed prints are cheaper. The frame is more expensive. On the one hand, if the author himself chooses the frame, he completely thinks through his print — to the smallest detail. On the other hand, by selling a print without a frame, you allow the buyer to be creative. Don't forget to put your artist's signature (or seal) on the print as well.

art prints

What else can you do with prints?

Here are some ideas you can use when working with prints:

  • start selling prints at a low markup: this will reach more people;
  • use prints in design;
  • combine prints with your brand;
  • make reproductions of your favorite works of art;
  • use prints as gifts;
  • sell limited edition prints;
  • create a business plan to sell prints;
  • check galleries to buy prints