Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artist Survival 101: Setting up a New Printer...

I admit it. I'm not considered one of the top 20 artists of America who have agents working for them, top galleries pining for them, and someone else to do all the dirty work! Hence, I buy my own printer. I print my own prints. I sell them at shows. Surviving as a (slightly) less than top artist takes more than doing what you love. It takes doing what you would most certainly rather NOT be doing in order to have the margins and volume it takes to make enough money to then be able to do what you love.

And, what would I rather NOT be doing? You guessed it - testing out a new printer! Now, I'm a painter. Granted, I spent several years in the tech industry, which gives me a leg up on some things, but a graphic designer, I'm not. And a printer expert, I'm not. But... I'm learning.

What did I learn today? I LOVE my new printer (after 6 hours of testing, 10 print samples, and 46 card samples later) and the gorgeous new prints that I will have available this season using it!

What did I learn during those 6 hours on the path to loving my new printer?

1) Do not use color profiles in both the software AND the printer. When using Photoshop, just use the software, and turn of the printer options otherwise you get a washed out version of your image. Huh, I didn't even know there was a difference before, or that both options existed!

2) Paper quality DOES make a difference! Now, I previously have been selling an economical poster print quality print using my most excellent high quality color laser printer. It has done a great job for me, and produces a very nice quality print on a medium quality paper. My new Espon printer, however, produces a rather mediocre print on mediocre paper, and a beautiful print (after a few more lessons) on high quality paper.

3) There are approximately 100 different settings with thousands of combinations with which to test, and it's important to remember (or write down) what settings you've chosen otherwise you WILL forget by the time the print actually makes it out of the printer and won't know what to change on the next print.

4) I actually like my cards printed on my laser better than on the Epson, and will most likely continue using my laser with 100% PCW recycled paper for the cards in order to keep them affordable.

5) My favorite paper thus far is a PremierArt Platinum Rag Fine Art Paper. It has a cool sheen to it that gives my artwork a lovely glossy look similar to that created by the Acrylics on the original art. Gorgeous! I'm looking forward to testing out a premium bamboo paper, but it did not get included in the sample pack I ordered, so I will have to order another.

6) Respect the graphic designers/print producers you know who do an excellent job. It's not as easy as it looks.

7) I now know how to tweak my laser printer settings better from learning about the myriad of Espon ink jet settings and now set my laser to having the colorsync in the printer.

8) Using a high quality paper setting with a low quality paper makes the print worse instead of better. Be sure to match settings with actual paper quality.

9) That red flashing light does not mean I can continue printing...

10) I can drink a lot of coffee in a short amount of time!

I hope you enjoy the new prints I'll have available this show season with my new printer! I'm afraid they will cost a little more (as I'll most likely be using a premium paper), but they will be more beautiful and true to the originals than ever.


Scott Lommers said...

Sure, but where will you put that monster printer?! You can't just put that thing on some table. Where will you eat? I mean, please!

Jennifer Lommers said...

Very funny hubby o mine. Don't worry - it will be off the table soon.

thewillowsnest said...

haha.. I have just been doing the same thing.. testing ..testing.. watching ink and paper levels going down .. down heehee..
thanks for sharing!

Another Daydreamer said...

Awesome post. I was looking at printers today, but think I just don't have the time. This is a valuable post and I've added it to the EBSQ Friday Five for tomorrow. :-)

Jennifer Lommers said...

I haven't dared to look at my ink levels yet, but did think it would be a good idea to order up a spare set of cartridges to have on hand when these run out!

Thanks for adding me to the EBSQ Friday Five, Daydreamer!

Abstractheart/Crimsonfirestudios said...

I have been looking for a printer. I don't want to get anything that I have to replace to soon. What printers do you use and why?

Jennifer Lommers said...

I have a Phaser 6120 that I've been using for about 5 years. It's been a good solid printer, that with proper care is a good high quality producer of graphics materials. I will continue using it to produce my note cards. I just invested in an Epson R1900 for producing my prints up to 11 x 14. The technology is a couple years old, but it produces a beautiful print. I plan to upgrade with another printer later this year for producing larger prints (previously I had been outsourcing my larger prints). Complaints I've heard with the R1900, with which I will most likely concur, are that the paper feed is difficult (it just took me a little getting used to, so I'm not too worried) and that the ink cartridges don't hold enough ink (i.e. you will run out quickly). I think it's a great printer for the price, though, and uses archival inks, which is my main concern. I'll just make sure to keep a set of replacement inks on the shelf.

Thanks for asking!

Abstractheart/Crimsonfirestudios said...

Thank you Jennifer for answering my question. The Epson R1900 was one of the printers I had looked at. I did read those complaints in the reviews. I have an everyday Epson printer and the cartridges run out pretty quick. I love your art by the way!

Diane said...

I love your art! Laughed reading your comments about the new printer...my son is a graphic artist and had an internship recently. He just moaned every day about a printing job he was working on, color troubles etc...I didn't understand...when I read your post it seemed to bring home his frustration... will you keep your readers up to date on your happiness/wrestling with this printer?

ArtPlay with Chris said...

Hi Jennifer, I'm a new fan of your paintings and your blog. I found you by searching Corvallis Etsy sellers (I live in Alsea). Nice post about printer settings, etc. as I would like to print cards of my fiberart someday. Thanks so much for sharing that information.

Looking forward to reading more on your blog!

Sending a smile, chris

Jennifer Lommers said...

Ahhh the R1900.

I LOVE the print quality. I have can live with the feeding issues (making sure the paper is fed correctly and ready to go before I send the image to print from the computer and if there is an issue I typically just have to stop the print job in the printer queue and hit restart and it accepts the job).

The Paper: I especially like the bamboo paper I recently received. I'll be doing a separate blog post to talk about it and show some images of how it prints.

Thanks all for checking out this post! I hope I can provide you all more insights!

Jo Wholohan said...

thank you so very much for sharing this jennifer, im currently looking to buy my first art printer, tossing up between the R1900 and a canon 9000 so this helps a lot, you have a new fan!!! xx

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