Where to Print Art Prints From Etsy (Downloads / Printables)

You see a great set of prints on Etsy, they are just what you’ve been looking for, incredibly cheap, and you go to buy, but hang on, it’s a digital download. What if you haven’t got a printer? How do you print art prints from Etsy? This post covers everything.

You can print art prints from Etsy in your local print shop, major office supply stores, from an online print-on-demand platform, or by doing it yourself at home with an inkjet printer.

Each option has its own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for you.

If you have never printed art prints from digital downloads and this is all a bit overwhelming, relax. It’s not difficult, all you need is some guidance and that starts here.

Let’s get going.

(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)

How to Print Art Prints From Etsy

First, purchase your digital art download from Etsy. When the sale is complete, you have two options. If you are an account holder click the link called ‘view my files’. If not, a link will be sent to your email address. Download it from there.

You are likely to see a tab open at the bottom of the screen while it downloads to your PC. Right-click the tab after the file has loaded, click ‘save as’, and choose a destination where you can easily find it.

Every platform selling digital files will have a very similar system.

Of course, you can always sell downloads. It’s worth considering. This class is on Skillshare (affiliate)

Where to Print Art Prints File

There are four main options: You can print your art prints a local print shop, from a major office supply store, an online platform, or print them at home. Each option has its own set of pros and cons that you’ll need to consider before making a decision.

  • Printing locally can be more expensive but it gives you the opportunity to see and touch the finished product before you buy it.
  • Printing online can be cheaper but you run the risk of getting a lower quality print.
  • If you have a home printer, printing at home can be cost-effective, but if it’s the wrong type of printer or you don’t know how to set it up properly, it could be more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ll go over each option in turn and you can decide which one suits you, according to your needs.

Finding a Local Print Shop

The best quality art prints come from local printing services, in theory. It’s not a guarantee because I know how print services vary from place to place. Each print shop will use its own brand of printer, with its own maintenance regime, its own quality standards, different paper stocks, prices, and work culture.

In short, you must research your local printers beforehand. Only use reputable services. And make sure you have backup files and access to them.

What Type of Art Print do I Need?

You have two choices, dye-based inkjet prints, and Giclee inkjet prints.

Dye inks are not archival, meaning they are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and won’t be fully fadeproof. In reality, the inks are very stable indoors, away from direct sunlight, and will be fine for the needs of most people.

Dye-based inkjet printers produce excellent quality prints for a low price. The inks are relatively inexpensive.

Giclee printers use pigment inks that are considered archival. They last a lifetime and should see you out. The manufacturers test all these in lab environments but anything made to last 50+ years is a very long time. The companies claim longevity that’s double that number. What do ever buy that’s made to last decades?

This post goes into more depth: How to Make Prints of Your Art – Printing Art Explained in Detail

Pigment inks are expensive, and so is quality inkjet paper, and you’ll have to pay a premium. That said, if you purchase the same Giclee image from the artist, you’ll pay the costs, plus the profit margin, plus the postage. It’s still going to be much cheaper to print a file.

There’s another thing worth mentioning. A print is only ever as good as the quality of the scan.

Approaching a Local Printshop

In my experience, most printers are very welcoming and used to dealing with all people who are not sure what they are doing. Don’t be intimidated.

You’ll need these file types on a USB or memory card:

  • PDF and JPG
  • 300dpi resolution (dots per inch)
  • CMYK color format

The printer will verify these when they find the image.

The chances are your download will be sent as a JPG or PDF file. You’re unlikely to be sent a TIFF file via the internet because the files are so large and take too long to load. Think about a TIFF file as the artist’s master copy. A JPG is a condensed file and can be sent digitally without a problem.

For most printing jobs, a 300dpi JPG image will reproduce fine.

When you pop in to chat with the printers you will need to ask a few questions before you start. Hand over the USB stick and then ask:

  • Can I have a proof copy? (sometimes it’s a paper strip for a one-off purchase)
  • What type of printer do you use? (dye-based inkjet or Giclee)
  • What paper do you have? (Get a swatch and choose one)
  • What size print can I have? (the printer will tell you the maximum)
  • How much does it cost? (It’s usually discounted for quantity)

Don’t expect perfection. It rarely happens, but it’s far better these days than it ever was before. Expect a very good match to what you see on the screen. Remember you saw the original image online and screens vary between models.

Your image should closely match the image as it appears on the printer’s screen. Why? because their screens are calibrated to color match the file accurately.

The print shop will be able to match the colors and tones of your image to create a print that is nearest to the original. When it is printed, it must match your proof. That’s your quality control.

You will need a secure bag for your print, it’s worth taking something with you. I like to take a plastic sleeve and a stiff card when I remember.

If you want to learn more about the printing business and how to get a good printing job done. This class will guide you through the process. It’s on Skillshare

Always check your print before you leave the premises, just to make sure.

Look for these things:

  • Thumb buckle creases
  • Ink streaking
  • Inkspots
  • Visible roller marks on the print
  • Noticeable scratches on the surface

Sometimes things happen and the printers don’t always notice them. Be nice about things. Printers are usually very accomodating.

And one last thing: don’t forget your USB. I’ve done that so many times.

Online Printing Services

Online printing services are a great way to get high-quality art prints without having to worry about the cost or hassle of going to a local print shop. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an online printing service, such as turnaround time, quality, and price.

Online Print on Demand Services Include:

Quality is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an online printing service. Many services use state-of-the-art equipment and software to produce high-quality prints. They all promise the best prints at the best prices but there is only one way to find out

Price is another important factor to consider when choosing an online printing service. The cost of the prints will vary depending on the size of the image and the type of paper or other surfaces requested. Most printers off comparable prices and you’ll soon gauge the average going rates.

Alarm bells should ring when the prices are very low. You have to ask yourself how it’s possible to be so much cheaper than their competitors. The obvious way is by using 3rd party inks and cheaper paper.

That is not always a problem but you should thoroughly research the company before ordering. Their website should include the type of printer they are using and both the paper and ink brands.

Cheap canvas prints are noticeably made with inferior materials.

Turnaround time is another important factor to consider when choosing an online printing service. Many services will have a set turnaround time, but some may be able to accommodate rush orders.

Many services will offer samples of their work, so be sure to request a sample before ordering your prints.

Finally, not all services are made equal, the company’s customer service should be considered when choosing an online printing service. A good company will respond quickly to any questions or concerns you may have about their services and rectify any problems.

Take a look at this course on Skillshare if you fancy starting your own store

start a print on demand business with etsy
You can try it for Free on Skillshare

Office Supply Store Printers

There are many office supply stores that have competitive prices on printing. Check around to see which ones can offer you the best deals.

Can I Print Printables at Staples?

Many people go to Staples to get minor printing jobs done. There is no reason why you shouldn’t get your Etsy printables printed too.

Staples are general printers and although you will not get the high-end quality of a specialist printing house, does it really matter?

Most people using their services just want a quick and easy service from a store they trust, and where the quality is good enough for what they want.

I took a screenshot of my drawing on the Staples order page. It was very easy, with just a few clicks. You don’t even need to go in-store until you pick it up.

print art prints at staples

Why stop there? You don’t have to buy only art prints, what about coasters, a puzzle for the kids, or even gift wrap? It’s all customizable.

Other stores worth checking out include:

  • Office Depot is another great option for printing. If you order online at Officedepot.com by 2pm you can get your prints the same day. Ask them to trim your print if needed.
  • Walgreens is also a great choice for those looking for same-day pickups. They can print large too. Look for coupons and grab their discount offers.
  • FedEx will print your art printables in various sizes. I’m not sure if they do same-day service or not, but they offer custom frames too which could be handy.

Standard Frame Sizes for Smaller Art and Art Prints

These sizes are commercially available small frame sizes. The frame size is the overall size and the aperture is the window inside the mount/mat.

Frame Sizes (Affiliate)Aperture
6″ x 8″6″ x 4″
7″ x 5″3″ x 5″
7″ x 5″ 6″ x 4″
10″ x 8″3″ x 5″
10″ x 8″6″ x 4″
10″ x 8″7″ x 5″
10″ x 10″8″ x 8″
10″ x 12″6″ x 4″
10″ x 12″ 6″ x 8″
10″ x 12″ 7″ x 5″
10″ x 12″ 10″ x 8″
11″ x 14″ 10″ x 8″
12″ x 16″8″ x 12″
24cm x 30cm6″ x 8″
30cm x 30cm8″ x 8″
Standard smaller frame sizes with standard matboard apertures (windows)

Standard Frame Sizes For Larger Art and Art Prints

These sizes are commercially available larger frame sizes. The frame size is the overall size and the aperture is the window inside the mount/mat.

Frame Sizes (Alliliate)Mat Aperture
12″ x 16″ 8″ x 12″
12″ x 16″ 8.5″ x 11″
12″ x 16″ 9″ x 12″
16″ x 20″ 8″ x 12″
16″ x 20″ 10″ x 12″
16″ x 20″ 11″ x 14″
16″ x 20″ 12″ x 16″
30cm x 40cm8″ x 12″
30cm x 40cm(A4) 297mm x 210mm
40cm x 40cm8″ x 8″
40cm x 40cm 10″ x 10″
40cm x 40cm 30cm x 30cm
40cm x 50cm11″ x 14″
40cm x 50cm30cm x 40cm
20″ x 24 16″ x 20″
24″ x 34″20″ x 30″
Standard larger frame sizes with standard matboard apertures (windows)

These are common aspect ratios for printing:

I included these ratios, you might need them.

2 : 33 : 4
4 x 69 x 12
8 x 1212 X 16
12 x 1818 X 24
16 x 2424 X 32
20 x 3030 X 40
24 x 3636 X 48
4 : 57 : 5
8 x 103.5 x 2.5
16 x 207 : 5

Printing Art Prints at Home

You might have an inkjet printer at home already, in which case you are in luck. I’m assuming you are familiar with how it works so I will just remind you to use inkjet paper and nothing else if you want a good image.

Dye-based inkjet printers are suitable for printing art prints. They produce images with a higher range of colors (gamut) than pigment printers, but the prints have a shorter lifespan. That said, if your prints are displayed indoors, and away from direct sunlight, they will last for decades.

The inks are considerably cheaper than pigment inks.

Laser printers are not suitable for printing art prints. You may find that the image is OK but they are not lightfast. Laser printers are designed for speed and economy, not quality.

Giclee pigment inkjet printers are considered the best type of printer for art prints. These printers use high-quality pigment inks that are specifically designed for printing fine art.

If you have access to one, they are your best option.

There are a number of A3+ home printers on the market, made by Canon and Epson. Each company has its advocates, but in reality, they both produce equally stunning results.

The printers are quite expensive, so only enthusiasts and professionals will invest in one, and it’s worth noting that printing at home is still more expensive than you imagine. The price for pigment ink is extortionate, and quality paper is pricey too. You can easily pay $4-5 per print.

I have a post about the top Pigment and Dye printers right now: Printing Art Prints DIY – Epson ET 8550 vs SC-P700 – Hobby vs Pro?

If you are a casual user, you are unlikely to be using an expensive printer but that doesn’t mean that you can’t print good prints, as long as your expectations are realistic.

The type of art sold as Printables tends to be of simple images and most basic models will reproduce them well. You might, however, have a problem with your paper choices. Some of the cheaper printers may not accept thicker card stock.

Plus with a limited set of inks, you might find the colors might not be as vibrant, and the tonal range of black and white prints will be less. For simple artwork and designs, it won’t matter. It’s a cheap way to get prints made.

If you want to try making your own cards this Skillshare class will inspire you to give it a go.

Printing Art on Canvas

You might decide to print your art on canvas. There are some clear advantages.

  • They look great
  • They’re ready to hang
  • No added framing costs
  • Can be wiped clean

Canvas prints should be durable but they are not necessarily fade-proof. Most cheap canvas prints will use dye-based inks and they’re not archival, as such, they should not be displayed in direct sunlight.

If you want quality, the canvas must be printed using pigment inks. Also, ask if your canvas print will be coated with a UV-blocking archival varnish.

The same questions should be asked when you buy aluminum prints.

These canvas sizes should be readily available:

4″ x 6″18″ x 24″
5″ x 7″20″ x 24″
8″ x 10″24″ x 36″
9″ x 12″30″ x 40″
11″ x 14″36″ x 48″
12″ x 16″
Plus there will be multiple 1 : 1 sizes

Pixel Size Requirements For Printing

The Table Below indicates the minimum pixels required to print each print size

Check that your file meets the minimum size in pixels. It’s easy enough to calculate. Printing requires 300dpi (dots per inch) consequently 1 inch equals 300 pixels, 2 inches = 600, 3 inches = 900 and so on.

Print Size (inches)Size in Pixels (Min)
3 x 5900 x 1500
4 x 61200 x 1800
5 x 71500 x 2100
8 x 102400 x 3000
8 x 122400 x 3600
11 x 143300 x 4800
12 x 163600 x 4800
16 x 204800 x 6000
Minimum sizes to avoid pixilated images

Choosing Printing Paper For Art

For the purposes of accuracy, I have produced a chart using the metric gsm (grams per square meter) universal system to indicate paper thickness (weight). It’s easy, larger numbers indicate thicker paper.

N.B. The system in the US is different. Without wanting to bore you, the paper weight is calculated in such a complicated way, that two papers can be the same poundage with different thicknesses.

Imagine the thickness (weight) by relating them to common paper products, as follows:

Weight in gsmCommonly Used As…
75Photocopy paper
90Letterhead
120Brochure
135Light drawing paper
165Posters/Firm drawing paper
200Heavyweight drawing paper
300Light card/Watercolor paper
The table will help you gauge the relative thickness of each paper

You will need to consider the paper thickness, its brightness, the material it’s made from, and size when choosing the right paper.

Your paper choice can change the feel of your art print substantially. Bright paper can make a colorful image ‘pop’, conversely, a muted image printed on the same bright paper can look ‘washed out’.

Print your download or your own art: Learn How to Print Your Watercolor Paintings With Kolbie Blume on Skillshare

How Artists Choose a Good Art Paper

Most artists choose off-white paper, often one that has a slight texture to simulate the feel of watercolor paper.

They will want to know how the paper is made, that’s important if longevity is paramount. Ideally, everyone would choose an archival paper stock. This is especially important for fine art prints intended for sale.

Archival paper is made from a cotton rag, which is stronger, more durable, and holds ink better than paper made from wood pulp. It’s also more expensive.

At the very least, an artist wants a neutral acid-free paper made from wood pulp with the lignum chemically removed.

If a paper is not acid-free it will turn yellow with age and may develop acid spots.

For more info about art paper read: What’s the Right Paper for Pencil Drawing? It covers many of the same issues.

These things are irrelevant with printed ephemera, by which I mean promotional materials and greeting cards, that type of thing, or cheaper prints that have no real value, such as posters.

Major brands will sell archival and acid-free paper for printing at home. Ask your printer about the type of paper they provide.

Both Redriver Catalog and Freedom Paper have great sites with all the info you will need and where you can order supplies (US).

Printing Art Prints From Etsy – Final Thoughts

It’s all very easy and your choice of printing, for the most part, will be influenced by convenience.

If I was printing a standard Etsy printable, I would choose a print shop or an office supply store. I wouldn’t care too much about the archival qualities, a reasonable print for the price will be my major concern.

Digital downloads are cheap and if you receive a quality file you’ll get good prints. If you can, buy a PDF file, they’re better than compressed JPEGs.

When you are considering what size you should print, think about how you intend to frame it. Choose a standard print size (see the tables above) that will fit into an easy-to-find, ready-made frame.

There you have it, now you can print art prints from Etsy and know what you’re doing.


I’ve been printing and selling my art for over 20 years. If you want to know how I make a living and want to do it yourself. Take a look.

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