What to Consider When Printing Your Artwork and Photos

Guest blogger Carla Eaton shares some tips and tricks to ensure your printed artwork is perfect…

No matter how good your computer, camera or editing skills are, your artwork is going to look different from the original once it has been printed.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are prepping to print in order to get the sizing and quality you desire.

Printing Process

Most commercial printers offer several ways you can choose from to print your artwork. Here are some of the more popular methods:

Offset Lithography: In this printing process, ink is applied to a special printing plate to form the image, which is then transferred to a rubber blanket that presses is against paper to produce the final print. This method creates high quality prints and very popular.

Giclee Printing: High-tech 8- or 12-color ink jet printers “spray” inks onto the substrate, which creates the final product. This method creates high quality images that reproduce your artwork in various sizes and onto various surfaces (canvas, paper, textured papers, etc.) easily.

Laser or Inkjet Printing: The most common types of printers, these may not be the best route for prints. This method is best for smaller prints, or for those who are just starting out and printing from home. Image quality will not be the best.

Print Sizes (Image size vs. print size) and Proper Resolution

Chances are, your original artwork isn’t going to be in the size that people will want as a print. Offering different sizes of your piece is common and creates more options to buy your art.

Resizing an image is not that simple, however. You will want to consider resolution and pixels. Standard print resolution is 300dpi. Make sure your files, documents and images all are set to that; any image with a resolution lower than 300 will be printed fuzzy and blurry. Read more on understanding image resolution here.

Most image editing software (Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, etc.) will allow you to resize the image easily. Keep in mind you want a high resolution and that really depends on what size prints you want. A high resolution file may cause your computer to be slow, but the printed product will be well worth it. You can also avoid that by taking your artwork to a commercial printer.

Bleed, Trim and Safety Margins

Bleed: The bleed line extends past the trim “to which artwork or a background color is extended so that the blade will cut through it.” If your artwork extends to the edge of a document, you should set a bleed line so that your artwork doesn’t get cut off awkwardly. The bleed margin establishes an area to account for a small margin for cutting error.

Trim: The trim refers to the edge of the paper or the size of the finished product. These lines indicate where the product will be cut down to for the desired size. It’s important to remember, however, that errors can be made during the printing and cutting process, so important content should be kept within safety margins.

Safety: The safety lines refer to the area of your document/artwork that is not meant to be trimmed. Any important content or text should be kept within the safety lines to ensure it does not get cut off.

Although it varies by what you are printing, it’s important to set up the bleed, trim and safety line for every file. Generally, your bleed line should be 1/8” beyond the trim line, while the safety line should be 1/8” inside the trim line.

File Type (TIFF, JPG, or PNG?)

There are so many ways to save your image file – TIFF, JPG, PNG, PDF, GIF, etc. – that is can be hard to figure out which is the best for printing your artwork. Whatever you choose to print, make sure the file is saved as a TIF, JPG or PNG.

TIF: Lossless type of file – generally considered the highest quality format for commercial work. It does not lose any of the data associated with the original image, is highly versatile, and works with almost all color profiles (including CMYK which makes it great for commercial printing).

PNG: Lossless type of file – no compression and no JPG artifacts. It uses ZIP compression which is somewhat more effective color compression than with TIF files, which makes it smaller than TIF but larger than JPG.

JPG: Lossy type of file – generally used for photo images. High quality JPGs can be used for printing as well, but the files can be extremely small and unable to effectively scale up in size. Also, the more you edit and re-save the JPG file, the more quality you will lose.

If file size is not an issue, work with TIF images to maximize quality and size of your artwork.


External references and resources:

How do I prepare and optimize my art images for the web?

Carla Eaton has a B.A. in Mass Media with a Minor in Art and Design. She enjoys writing on the topics of business, technology, and design, and currently blogs for, who specializes in Dell printer cartridges.

You may also like

Could you publish or license your art? : Experienced artist Jan Weiss flips open her brain

Guest post from Jan Weiss who has 15 years of experience licensing her art.

In the art business or when I meet artists and tell them I am a published artist, I typically end up with a load of questions and they ask to “pick my brain”. So over coffee I lay the groundwork; an overview of publishing and licensing and how to get found in a sea of artists all wanting the same thing.

I have been in this business for over fifteen years with experience in publishing, wholesale and retail sales, ecommerce and licensing; in addition I blog regularly about artists – especially emerging artists as I feel they need the most exposure right off the bat.

The questions I receive generally fall into these categories:

• What is publishing and licensing?
• Is there much money?
• How can I get posters made of my art?
• What are the latest trends?
• Do you think my art is publishable?
• How can I get noticed?

I’m going to review all of these questions and give you a simple straightforward – and honest answer to each of these questions.

What is publishing and licensing?

Publishing and licensing is about making your art available for derivative products. Art publishing is about turning your art into a poster or limited edition art print. You can publish them yourself by working directly with a printer or licensing your images to a publisher who will pay all the up front costs including printing and marketing and pay you a royalty on the sales of the print; usually 10 to 15%.

Licensing your images to a product manufacturer is another way of earning royalties from your creations. These images may be licensed for product such as textiles, table-top, home accessories and apparel. The manufacturer pays you or your agent/ publisher a royalty and you receive a percentage of that royalty.

Is there much money?

There can be. I have known some artists who earn $75,000 to a $100,000 a year but they are the rare ones. Royalty payments generally run $200 to $1000 a month and if there is an order for a high volume sale you may go much higher than that. Truthfully – most artists have other jobs to supplement their art income.

How can I get posters made of my art?

You can have posters made of your art through online sources such as, or Artists do not go through an approval process for Imagekind and Finerworks – you simply upload your high res file and pick a size for the art.

You or any customer can go through these sites and purchase your art and you will receive a royalty. requires an approval process so be patient. It is up to you to market your work for on-line publishing sites such as these so be persistent. Post on Facebook, Twitter, blog about it and include it in newsletters.

What are the latest trends?

I use catalogues such as CB2, West Elm and Crate and Barrel for trend inspiration, and it is well worth your time to read design blogs. A complete list is on my site, The Art Planet – just scroll down the left navigation bar; these sites are filled with inspiration, ideas and design trends.

Do you think my art is publishable?

This question is the hardest and requires direct and sincere answers. The fact is – not everyone who wants to be an artist has the talent to get there-be objective and proceed with caution. Ask yourself if your work is unique and original or is simply an interpretation of the hottest trend so it will sell because right now everyone wants that look?

Have you had professional instruction? Learning from professional artists is worth every dollar spent. These people have their experience to share and will teach and instruct in styles and techniques that you may have no experience with yourself; benefit from the knowledge of others. I have had many people tell me they are self-taught and display this as a badge of honor but what publishers really want is someone with a firm grasp in techniques and execution – skills taught in the classes and workshops.

How can I get noticed?

And finally we come to social networking – one of my favorite subjects. This subject cannot be understated – it is truly essential and imperative that you do this…daily.

Take advantage of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google, Orkut, Digg, Delicious, Kaboodle and many many others. When you upload a new poster or add products to your Etsy site or Zazzle site tell people about. The best art in the world will never be found unless consumers and art lovers are allowed to see it through the art of social networking.

Start a blog and upload your work; share your inspiration for the piece and medium and price. Blogger offers a very easy, intuitive free blog site. The more sites you post on the more your name will show up in search engine marketing and the better chance you have of being discovered.

Creating art is like using your muscles – you must create continually. Be inspired by others, learn from others and build upon your experience to become a brand on all your own.

© 2011 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at


You may also like