Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Q and A: Should I own a printer?

Here's a selection from an email that arrived a few days ago...

Brian Walker said: "I am looking to possibly start selling my work at art shows... I have been getting my 16 by 20 inch prints fulfilled at Sam's Club on their Epson Printer for $6 a print. Do you think I should buy my own Epson 3800 so I can print on higher quality "fine art" papers?"

Check out Brian's website at: He has some beautiful images - especially his underwater photos!

And here's part of my response to him...

I think you have an excellent collection of work that will sell well – especially in Florida. We find that local shots sell best locally – so art shows should provide a good source of income if you are able to put some effort into preparation.

As far as printing, I do recommend purchasing your own printer – we own the Epson 3800 and use Ilford Smooth Pearl paper. We also use an Epson 9800 printer for our larger canvas prints. Although you can certainly continue to have your prints made at Sam’s, making your own gives you intimate control over color management, and lets you select the best paper for your project. Epson printers are excellent – we’ve been very pleased with ours. Check reviews for the Epson 3800 before you buy - though I think you'll be very happy with the printer. You should also take a look at the available papers to decide which you prefer for your images.

Do keep in mind that printing can be complicated. You’ll need to understand printer profiles and have a carefully calibrated monitor, so that your colors look the same on-screen and on paper. Make sure you know what printer settings to use.

Also – keep in mind that you will have to swallow the cost of printing errors. A print can be ruined in any number of ways – and you’ll need to build that cost into the price of your product. Just as you would incorporate your costs for matting and framing, printer ink and, of course, your time - make sure you are covering the cost of errors in printing. Jay and I sometimes make mistakes even after years of printing our own images. ;)

I want to thank all of you who have sent us emails in the past few months - your support and kind words mean a lot to us! I hope that posting some of these questions and answers here on our blog is helpful. And please do feel free to drop us a line - either here on our blog or in the form of an email. We love hearing from you!

- Varina

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