Reproducing Your Artwork

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An artist does a painting and sells it. They make their profit and move on to another piece.

The standard litany, preformed repeatedly, is paint, frame, sell, repeat.

This can continue for years, the artist coming up with new themes, new compositions, and each piece is an original work of art.

There is an alternative for the committed artist. Reproductions of work allow an artist to reap continued dividends from a single painting, sometimes for years.

The Cost Of Doing Business

There are two methods to reproducing artwork. Acquire the skills and invest the capital to print quality reproductions or contract with a printing house to produce them you. Professional equipment to make reproductions can cost many thousands of dollars, requiring financing from a lending institution. Unless the artist is ready to become a full-time business with a prepared business plan, financing may be out of the question. Ah, for the days of patrons, when with a flourish of a quill pen, the artist’s requests were fulfilled.

For an artist without the patronage of a count, duke or earl, paying a reproduction firm to create reproductions is a far more economical choice.

Professional Print House

If an artist decides that the startup cost is too high, hiring a print shop to make reproductions is a viable solution. The artist needs the ability to convert his original into a graphic image the shop can then prepare for printing.


The artwork must be photographed with a high-resolution digital camera to preclude graininess. The painting should be professionally photographed to ensure proper lighting and setup. This is yet another skill the artist needs to make successful reproductions. The artist could simply hire a professional photographer skilled in art photography, but this is an additional cost.

The final product is produced as a slide, which the print shop can then use to scan into appropriate software for editing.


Publishing firms have enormous flatbed scanners or drum scanners that can accommodate very large pieces. The artwork can be professionally scanned and saved as a digital image the artist can forward to the reproduction house for editing and printing.

Producing A Color Proof

The printing house will edit the image, using appropriate software, adjusting color, textural appearance and dimensions. They will produce a proof, which the artist will approve. He will examine the print for color quality and any other errors. When the reproduction meets with the artist’s approval, it is then ready for reproduction.

Producing Prints

The larger the number of reproductions created in a single session, the lower the per-piece price. An artist who has established himself selling prints may gamble on a fairly large run, knowing he is capable of selling out his inventory. However, an artist just starting in this venture will have a very small run produced. This will increase his cost per piece, but limits his losses if the venture fails to meet his expectations.

Starting A Cottage Industry

The artist is now a small business owner. He needs to have inventory of finished pieces, supplies, and the storage and work room to accommodate his stock. Although this may sound extensive, in reality it can be just an additional room or portion of his studio.

An artist may sell his prints as several different products. He can sell pieces just as they are, rolled into a tube for protection. The customer will then decide how it will be finished. He can mat the piece, ready for framing. This is a popular option with minimal work and costs. He can also have ready-to-hang pieces available. This is an attractive, professional method to sell his art. Although this option is more time consuming and costly, it makes a positive impact to customers and potential galleries he may approach to sell his work.

Reproducing the painting in different sizes gives customers options. This increases sales potential substantially, as many consumers look for size in artwork to fill a specific decorating need.

A related subject is color theme for decorating. The average shopper is looking for a decorative piece to complement a color theme in the home. A savvy entrepreneur will have his work matted in several different colors to harmonize with various color themes.

Another line of products that are popular for craft shows and boutiques are note card sets and calendars. Artists print small images of their work to create these pieces, which are popular gift items.

Still Want To Do It Yourself?

There are self-publishing artists who are intent on producing their own prints. They manage to do so without investing huge amounts of money. They have developed strategies to print their own work and make a fair amount of money doing so.

These artists work within their budgets. With an investment of several thousand dollars, they purchase a high quality printer, sometimes alone or working in tandem with other artists. They are then able to print good quality prints of their work.

This may not be a true giclee printer and the prints not archival quality, but it is a fine quality for decorating purposes and allows the artist to print their own images. The copy size will be determined by the specifications of the individual printer. This may limit the artist’s print size, but still allows him to market reproductions.

Whether an artist self-publishes his art or works with a print shop, he will need to learn a number of new technical skills. This is an investment of time and money. It is the cost of doing business.

The role of an artist today demands competency in a variety of fields from bookkeeping and selling to computer technology and photography. This can seem an overwhelming mission to undertake, but time, patience and perseverance can lead to a successful career as an entrepreneurial artist.

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