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Printing Cards from Your Art

How to get greetings cards and postcards printed from your paintings.

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Who hasn't gone into an art gallery, admired the paintings, and then come home with postcards or cards? Having cards of your artwork for sale is a form of marketing, as well as a way to earn a little income. Whether someone keeps the card or posts it, they've been able to select a tiny piece of your creativity to enjoy.

Select Your Best Artwork

art cards in packets
jimmiehomeschoolmom/Flickr
Be objective and critical when choosing what artwork to have printed as cards. Think of it as a mini portfolio of your art, a mini display of your very best and most creative pieces. Rather have fewer card designs that showcase your best paintings and dominant style than oodles of mismatched card designs.

Take the Best Possible Photo of Your Artwork

Printing cards of your paintings
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
There's no way around it, you need a good photo or scan of your art for printing cards, a snap taken on a cellphone camera isn't going to do the job. But don't rush out with your paintings and credit card to professional photographer without first trying to take the photos yourself. It's not impossible with a reasonable point-and-shoot camera, a bit of patience and practice.

The photo must be sharp (completely in focus), the colors must be accurate (taking the photo under natural light is the easiest), and the shape of the painting not distorted (stand the painting up straight, align the camera with it, don't take the photo at an angle). Eliminate visual debris behind the painting by placing a sheet of plain paper behind and underneath it (curve a large single piece so you don't get a line in the background).

Set the camera on its maximum resolution, to get the biggest possible file. Be sure to get the whole painting in the shot, with minimal space around it to crop off. That said, if you don't have any photo editing software at all (list of free editors), take a photo of a detail or section of the painting rather than the whole thing. Then you don't have to crop the photo before using it for a card.

How Many to Print and Where?

Printing cards of your paintings
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
Think about where you're going to distribute the cards before you decide how many to have printed. Will you sell them yourself, does a gallery or shop want to sell some, will you give them away as presents? Rather print fewer at a slightly higher price for each one than print hundreds that you then sit on.

There is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a printshop. You can either upload photos online or take your photos into a physical shop. Shop around first. Look at what the minimum quantities for printing are, the weight of card being used, if it includes envelopes or polybags, any hidden costs (sales tax or VAT for instance), delivery charges. How long will they take to print and deliver the cards? If doing it online, is there a physical street address and contact phone number? What is the company's policy on refunds, order errors?

Check if you can use multiple photos in one print order. Can you add a logo or thumbnail of a photo on the back together with some details such as the name of painting, your name, and website. Can you get printed proofs (usually at an extra cost, sometimes this cost is then deducted if you make a full order)? Will the printer add their own name onto the card? It's usually small, at the bottom on the back, but it is free advertising for them and some will take it off if requested.

Seasonal Cards

Printing cards of your paintings
Photo ©2011 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.
If you're familiar with a photo-editing program, it's easy to add a few words to a photo to turn it into a seasonal card. Some online printshops will let you drop a photo into an existing seasonal design, and some let you add your own words inside the card. For the Christmas card shown in the photo, I added words and some reindeer pulling a sleigh across the hills in the view over one of my paintings. (If you don't have your own, there's plenty of free clipart to be sourced.)

The affiliates links (Buy Direct) on this page are for a company called Moo.com, which operates in various countries. I use them for some of my own cards because you can print a single order of 25 cards with up to 25 different images. I find it useful for printing small quantities of cards as, say, five different photos gives me five cards of each painting.

DIY Printing

Printing cards yourself with your computer printer is, of course, also an option. But with the cost of printer ink, plus card and envelopes, and the time it takes, is it worthwhile? Only you can decide. I know I'd rather spend the time painting.

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