Sep 25

Printing Love: The Printing Resource Guide You Need To Know

Design by Akin Design Studio
Design by Akin Design Studio
Hi loves!
It’s no secret around here, we think there is a whole lot to love about digital art.  We could point to its affordability, its immediate accessibility or the ability to try new looks without a large monetary commitment, among others, but today I wanted to discuss the versatility of printing methods available when you buy digital artwork.

I often am asked for my recommended printing methods and paper choices, and my answer is always the same – it really depends on your personal preferences.  There are no rules for glossy finishes vs. matte, and it is a personal decision as to whether one really cares about printing in fine art quality or not.  Maybe a birth announcement is something more sentimental to you and you want to ensure its quality will remain high thru the years, or maybe you’re purchasing a one-time seasonal print for a party that you will never use again.  These are very different purchases that may dictate the type of printing method and amount of money you wish to spend on a print.

We’ve created the following roundup of some of our favorite printing resources available, along with some pros and cons as we encountered in our own printing experiences.  We can only vouch for our own experiences, particularly with online printers and they are by no means all-encompassing, but I hope you will find this to be a helpful guide as you navigate the many options available to you when you purchase digital art.

Print At Home

Printing at home is an excellent option for many of our customers, and one that we employ quite often.  Printer quality will vary widely which is directly related to what we call color output – which simply means how closely your printer matches the colors of the digital file to the colors printed on the page.  The best way to figure out if you have color output issues with your printer is, quite simply, to just print it.  I often recommend printing at home as a 1st option to customers who are unsure about print quality.   

Printing at home is a very cost effective way of printing, depending on your printer ink cost and paper cost, it’s often pennies on the dollar.  I’m an advocate for inkjet/photo prints over laser printers because in my experience, laser printers generally do not produce accurate color.  Yet again, if you think your laser produces an awesome print, then by all means, print that puppy – one size is not fits all.  You have the option to print at home on any paper your printer will take, be it matte cardstock, glossy cardstock or any number of other options. 
 
 Pros: Convenient, Highly Affordable, Wide Paper Selection For Some
 Cons: Possible Color Output Issues, Possible Limited Paper Selection For Some

Skip the Digital File & Purchase Prints thru Adoren


 Did you know Adoren Studio sells prints?  We sure do. For a full selection please visit our Print Shop for artwork that is printed and mailed directly to your door.  Our prints fall into the category of “giclee” quality, which means they are fine art quality, printed with “archival” inks (fancy speak = they’ll maintain their color for a very long time.)  For paper selection, we’re kind of obsessed with watercolor in these parts, so beautiful textured cold press watercolor paper was the natural choice for our prints.  Watercolor paper is my absolute favorite paper for prints because it is both matte finish and textured– my personal preferences that I believe showcase the beauty of watercolor the best.  It is also worth noting that we are able to stand behind our own quality printing, whereas we are unable to do so with at-home or 3rd party printing.

Pros: Convenient, Very High Fine Art Quality Paper & Ink, Customer Service Guarantee
Cons: More Expensive, Limited Paper Selection

Go Local


 Printing locally is a great option, however for obvious reasons, recommendations for all of you would be next to impossible (yelp is a great place to start your research!)  Working with a local printer allows you to speak face to face with your printer, feel their paper stocks and often (though not always) deal with an expert in their field.  Local printers tend to know their craft and take great pride in their color output and print quality, so if you have an issue they usually see if before you do and run you another print until it’s right.  Like anything else in life, it’s tough to beat a personal relationship with someone – humanizing your experiences whether it’s with your florist your local farmer or your printer is always a good thing!
 
 Pros: Face to Face Service, Printing Expertise, Internal Troubleshooting and (usually) Great Customer Service
 Cons: You have to get off the couch, Paper Selection Will Vary (but very well may be AWESOME)

Online


 There are endless options online for printing your artwork.  Here is where you will want to be careful to consider the quality of the print you are seeking, because all is not created equally.  It is often possible to order a sample pack from some large print houses to gauge the various quality that is produced.  If you shop solely on price, chances are you will get what you pay for, and that may be just fine, but be sure you know what you are purchasing.  There are far too many online printers to list in the online category but a few of our favorites are below:

www.MPix.com – An offshoot of Miller’s Printing, a to-the-trade printing house for professional photographers, Mpix.com brings professional printing to the masses.  High quality photo papers with optional textures and finishes, canvases and quick shipping make Mpix.com a top choice
 Pros: Professional Photo Printing Quality, Custom Framing Options, Quick Shipping
 Cons: Mid-range prices, Not much matte paper selection
 
 • Catprint.com – A high quality printer that is used by many when quality matters, you can bet that catprint will produce quality prints for you every time.  They have a wide paper selection, custom sizes available and a very accurate turn around quote for you upon ordering.  Their prices are aligned with ours on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but the quality is high and customer service is very good.
 Pros: Large Paper Selection, Good Print Quality, Easy to follow turn around time
 Cons: Not fine art/giclee quality, More Expensive
 
 • Vistaprint.com – Mass producer of all things printed, Vistaprint touts some of the best prices on the web.  Turn around is often a bit longer as they wait to fill their print runs for maximum output in order to keep their waste low, which in turn keeps their prices low.  They are widely used and are a great option for low to mid level prints.  Paper selection here is decent and color output and clarity of images is greatly influenced by the paper you choose. 
Pros: Very affordable, Decent Print Quality, Multiple Printing Options
Cons: Large Variations in Quality, Sales-y with trying to get you to buy more, more, more!

• Staples.com – Both a brick and mortar and online print house, Staples offers great affordability and paper selection along with the option to pick up your artwork in store.  You can also visit the store to feel the paper selections and speak to a person face to face, so Staples has a little bit of the “best of both worlds” with being both local an online.  However it is important to note that for all big box printing chains (think Walgreens, FedEx Kinkos, etc…) there can be wide variability from store to store.  I am unsure why exactly, but that is our experience and we have had a mixed bag of results with printing thru big box printers such as these.
Pros: Both online + local, Nice Paper Selection, Good Quality
Cons: Large Variability Across Stores for quality output

Hope this was helpful!  How do you print your digital art?  Do you have a favorite online or local printer?  I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments and any questions!