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Art Print Creation Strategies

In my last post, I shared about the importance of creating and selling physical products. It’s a must-do part of your business for more reasons than just making money (like building credibility, new markets, etc)! In this post, I thought I’d continue the discussion by focusing on one of my favorite types of physical products: Art Prints. I’ve been conducting a lot of research on price and quality and have identified the best options for getting high-quality, low-cost prints made.For definition-sake, an art print can refer to any type of printed image, from maps and photographs to labels and posters.

It used to be that if you wanted to produce art prints, say 18″ X 24″ or 24″ X 36″, you had to go to a printer and have them produced in mass quantities to make them cost effective. When I managed the commercial printing companies in the late ’80s and early ’90s, my pricing model started with a base price whether you were printing one copy or thousands. The cost of creating a negative and plate for a job as well as the press startup were always the same. And if you wanted a 4-color job, it was expensive…especially in low quantities. Of course, with digital printing and large-format inkjet printers, all that has changed…and the pricing, if you know where to look, is pretty amazing.

Previously I mentioned Zazzle and CafePress as important considerations for creating and selling physical products. I still believe that, especially when it comes to testing new markets or product designs. But for long-term product creation…art prints for our example today…they are NOT good solutions. When I compare pricing models in just a moment, you’ll see why.

Two of the most popular art print/poster sizes are 18″ X 24″ or 24″ X 36″ and there are several options for having them produced. Some companies (like Zazzle or CafePress) will allow you to purchase just one copy. Other companies require a minimum quantity purchase (typically 100). Of course, in many cases, buying in quantity means a cheaper cost per unit, as we will see. In some cases, however, you may only want to purchase one print initially to test the market, and then increase printing numbers from there. Let’s take a look at our current pricing options for Art Prints.

(Prices are Cost per Print and do not include S/H fees)

Zazzle.com: 18″ X 24″: $19.95 24″ X 36″: $34.95

CafePress.com: 16″ X 20″:  $16.00 23″ X 35″: $19

ShortRunPosters.com: 18″ X 24″: $2.97 24″ X 36″: $9.97

As you can see, the best option by far is ShortRunPosters.com. Their quality is excellent and are, in my opinion, the best solution for short-run art prints/posters. If you find that you need 100 or more art prints of the same image (such as for a promotion or of an image that is selling well), there are better options that will drive your costs down even further. I recently found a company I had not heard of, JiperorPrint.com, who produces all types of printing including posters. While they require minimum runs, their prices are amazing compared to former solutions I’ve used like PrintPelican.com and PSPrint.com. Let me give you an example based on the above sizes.

(Prices are Cost per 100 and do not include S/H fees)

JiperiorPrint.com: 18″ X 24″: $109 ($1.09 per print)  24″ X 36″: $179 ($1.79 per print)

The prices are amazing! And if you bump the quantities to 500, check out the cost per unit:

18″ X 24″: $175 ($.35 per print)  24″ X 36″: $336 ($.67 per print)

Think about this…why purchase 100 18″ X 24″ prints for $109 when you can get 5 times that many for $66 more?! Amazing! Now perhaps you’re thinking, “That’s great, Tony, but what if I want to print smaller sizes? It looks like my options are limited.” Well, I’m glad you asked! The thing is, just because you’re printing an 18″ X 24″ print doesn’t mean the image HAS to be that size! You can fit two 11″ X 17″ prints side-by-side on a sheet or even four 8″ X 10″ prints on a single sheet. So let’s say you want to produce 8″ X 10″ prints of four related images…you could put one of each on a sheet and drop your cost for each of the four down to just $.75 (when printing at ShortRunPosters.com). Below are examples of a recent print order I had produced at ShortRunPosters.com that demonstrates what I mean:

Full Size

Two-Up

Four-Up

As you can see, there are a LOT of possibilities for ganging your prints!

In closing, I want to mention one quick note about using ShortRunPosters.com…they have a $10 flat shipping fee so ordering just one print is still expensive. What I do (and recommend) is order multiple prints of several layouts. The shipping cost remains the same but is spread out over your order of prints. Also, make sure you use as high a print resolution for your files as possible. I recommend NOT going below 180 DPI with 300DPI being the ideal!

I hope that this article has inspired you to consider getting your own prints made. The art print market is HUGE (especially on eBay), and with the cost of prints I’ve shared above, and the millions of images available to you in the Public Domain, you now have ZERO reason to venture into this profitable market! So go get ’em!

18 Responses to “Art Print Creation Strategies”

  • Very helpful information, Cheers
    Kid regards
    Joe

  • Essexlad:

    Hi Tony
    Your articles are great.I have been wondering how to produce prints that are in the Public domain which I have collected over the years here in the UK, and you have gone and answered my prayers.The only problem is I am not very good with regards to Photoshop of any kind so I will have to try harder to learn.
    Thanks again for great information and Blogs.Keep up the good work.
    regards
    Gordon
    essexlad

  • Carol Brusegar:

    Amazing information, Tony! Thanks!

  • Hey Tony, this is great. I belong to my local Historical Society and this process looks like a great fund raiser.

    And just a note for Essexlad, Tony covers Photoshop extremely well in his Step-By-Step program. My suggestion, sell some posters using these printers and then invest ALL of that money paying for your Step-By-Step membership.

    Paul

  • support:

    Hey Paul…you’re right about the fundraiser idea! This approach is perfect for that! And thanks for the plug about: http://www.stepbystepinfoproducts.com

  • Tony,
    I have my own wide format printing business. Even though the printing companies do not offer fine art archival printing services, the prices are impossible to beat. If you are selling these prints and not concerned about having the prints last for 100 years this is the way to go.

    Many of the old images are black and white line drawings. To add value to them I have them hand colored, scan them again and print them in color. This way I can offer black and white or color from the same image. I offer them as Archival Giclee Fine Art Prints, or just as art prints.

    There are so many ways to make a business out of Public Domain images I am surprised everyone in your group are not doing it.

    BTW: Where can you have inexpensive jigsaw puzzles made, 250 pieces or more?

  • Excellent article, Tony! Thanks for all of the great information. Your “Four-Up” is beautiful.

  • Lucy Davis-Benzoni:

    Thank you Tony for more great information. I have been searching for a way to obtain prints from my public domain graphics collection and wonder if the postage costs to Australia would make these still a viable option? I am gearing up to purchase a wide format printer when I ascertain the best model (I’m an Epson fan) but feel the printing companies’ costings would be hard to equal, if subsequent postage was not too high.
    Lucy

  • Hi – When you print multiple images on one sheet, how are you cutting them? Or are you selling them with multiple images on one sheet? Just wondering because so far I just make products via Zazzle – I’m a little nervous about getting into having to create/ship physical products myself.

  • Lucy,
    I have owned both Epson and Canon wide format printers. For the money Canon is 12 color, better quality prints, and faster output. I don’t know about Australia, but here in the states the cost of a Canon is so low it is almost insane. Before Christmas you could have picked up a new 8300 for less than $3,000.00. It would not take very
    many prints to pay for your own printer.

  • Mick Wood:

    I’m just getting into this and wondered if anyone can recommend a UK based printing company?

  • Mick Wood:

    As a secondary question what paper quality (gsm) do you recommend? What about Matt or Glossy? (I’m thinking of old maps and old masters). Should I offer a choice of both?

  • support:

    Hey Mick, I’m not in the UK, but a quick search show this one to be a possibility for you: http://www.digitalphotographposters.co.uk. As for paper thickness…heavier is better but isn’t always necessary. It comes down to usage. 150gms – 170gms should be a great option, paper weight-wise.

  • support:

    Hey Jim,

    Thanks for sharing as always! For puzzles, check out: http://www.piczzle.com/ and http://www.portraitpuzzles.com. They have the best prices for higher puzzle piece counts.

  • Mick Wood:

    Many thanks. I’ll check out the website. Any comments about Matt or Glossy (or both)?

  • Thanks Tony, I’ll check both companies.

  • Lucy Davis-Benzoni:

    Thank you for the info Jim. I actually did try to contact you by email last year looking for some advice, but I don’t think my email could have reached you. Maybe flagged as spam and discarded.
    I’ve done a bit of research on Epson wide format printers but not Canon. I will take a look at what is offering here in Australia.
    Best regards, Lucy

  • Thanks Tony. You’re always so generous in sharing good resource tools and ideas. There’s just so many amazing things you can do with this print creation. Thanks

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