Let's Talk About Printing!

Let's talk about printing. Now that our piece is saved to our device of choice a bunch of new options have opened up for us. Here are just a few options: 
mugs, blankets, canvases, shirts, stickers, hats, puzzles, tote bags and so, so much more! As an artist though there is something that goes hand in hand with us. Prints of our prints! Sometimes we just want to hold on to our originals but we also have an amazing work of art we want to sell. This is where all the steps we went over come full circle. 

Imagine, you walk up to the print shop counter, and tell the employee you want to print a piece of art. You hand them your USB they pull up your piece on the computer and they ask,

"What kind of paper would you like it to be printed on?"

do you know? It's okay if you don't, it took me awhile to learn the different kinds of paper myself. So, tapping into my own experience from when I was working in a print shop. Let's talk paper. 

You're not sure what you want, and that's okay. My next question was always, 

"would you like a matte or a gloss finish?"

A matte finish looks great with almost anything, the lack of gloss reduces the chance of a glare when framed. A key thing to note is that sometimes colours can look a little dull on matte paper types. So if your art has a lot of subtle greys, or desaturated colour I would not recommend a matte finish. 
Instead I'd go with a gloss, opposite to matte a gloss can have a slight glare to it so it's best if you're framing it to keep it out of direct sunlight. If your art has a lot of vibrant colours you'll want the glossiest paper you can get. Printing with gloss, like varnish, has different levels of intensity that depends on saturation and how much/many different colours are in your work. The more you have the more you'll need is a good rule to follow. 

Once we've narrowed that down it's time to pick the weight of the paper. We'll start with the two most popular matte options.

65lb cardstock - a sturdy paper but still thin enough to fold as needed. Ideal for cards and most projects. 
100lb cardstock - a very thick and sturdy paper. Great for flat cards (postcard style and business cards. Avoid folding this paper as the thickness will cause cracking along the spine and overall is a messy fold. 

Now let's go over some of the most common gloss options. 

80lbs cover(CVR) gloss - more of a satin finish in my opinion, it has a slight sheen and is good for economically printing off lots of photographs. 
80lbs text(TXT) gloss - a very thin glossy paper, this is a popular choice for crafter's when they wanted to print their own custom labels on water bottles, chip bags etc. 
12pt gloss - a very think and high gloss paper. Like the 100lb cardstock folding this paper is not advised for the same reasons. This paper is great for making photo cards. 

Poster printing 

if you're looking for printing wide format projects there are three options.

Engineer prints - it's your standard printer paper, just wide scale. it's an economic option but colours show up dull, and transporting it can be tedious. 
Matte - a thick matte finish paper, great for vintage looking posters, watercolor style artwork (baby showers, wedding banners). 
Gloss - high quality, high gloss. Artwork and photography look amazing on it. If your artwork is especially detailed this is the kind of paper you want. 

Some final notes: 

When printing, especially as an artist you must take into account that the print will appear a little darker than it appears on a digital device. My personal recommendation is to have two different copies of your piece. The original that you scanned, and a version that has been altered through a photo editing software. 
Since we want to counter the darker image, adjust the saturation and lightness of the picture SLIGHTLY. This helps recover what was lost in translation, but please note it may not be a one-to-one comparison.

Chain stores or franchises that offer printing services will not use paper you bring in. Even if you buy it within their store. If there is a type of paper you'd like to use that you bought yourself you will either need to use your own printer or call an independent print shop and inquire about their policies on "out of office" paper. 

PLAN AHEAD. This is my biggest piece of advice I can give from back when I working in printing.
There have been many, many situations where customers may bring in a project that needs to be done immediately. While we try to accommodate those customers for the most part, sometimes it just doesn't work out.
If your project is time sensitive, like for a convention, show etc. Have your work ready to print a week BEFORE that date. This will give the employees plenty of time to get your prints done, and time for you to review the results in case some last second changes need to be made.

Creative tutorials are a chance to explore your creativity and try techniques that you've never explored or want to hone your skills at.

Follow along with turotials on acrylic pouring to image transer and beyond. Endless possibilities and infinite creativity!

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