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

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

You browse an Etsy shop and see a perfect set of art prints, they look great, they’re incredibly cheap, and when you go to buy them they’re digital downloads. Hang on, what if you haven’t got a printer? How do you print art prints from Etsy? This post explains 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 printing option has its own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the easiest way for you. If you’ve never printed art prints from digital downloads, and this is all a bit overwhelming, relax, it’s not difficult. This is a quick guide.

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 Printables From Etsy

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

You’re likely to see a tab open at the bottom of the screen as the file 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.

If you want to sell Printables read this: How to Start a Printables Business: A Beginner’s Guide

Where to Print Printable Wall Art

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

  • Printing locally can be more expensive but it gives you the opportunity to see the print quality before you buy it.
  • Printing online can be cheaper but you run the risk of getting a lower quality print.
  • Printing at home can be cost-effective, but if you use the wrong type of home printer or you get the printer settings wrong, 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 or Office Supply Store

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 keep backup files.

Different Types of Art Prints

You have two types of digital prints to choose from, dye-based inkjet prints, and Giclee inkjet prints.

Dye-based 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 and away from direct sunlight, and they’ll 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-based 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.

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 the paper. You’ll have to pay a premium for high quality.

When you purchase a Giclee print directly from the artist, you’re paying the same printing costs, plus the artist’s profit margin, plus any postage costs.

It’s still going to be much cheaper to print a file yourself.

Approaching a Local Printshop

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

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

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

The chances are your download will be sent as a JPG or PDF file type. You’re unlikely to be sent a TIFF file via the internet because the files are so large and take too long to load.

A TIFF file as the artist’s master copy. A JPG is a condensed file and can be sent digitally without a problem. PDF files were designed as document files but they reproduce images to a very high quality. If you can, buy a PDF file, but printable art is usually sold as a hi-res JPG image.

Before you hand over your USB stick, ask these questions:

  • Can I have a proof copy? (might be free or a low cost)
  • 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 pretty good match to what you see on the screen. Remember you saw the original image online and consumer screens vary between models.

Your image should be viewed on the printer’s screen. Why? because their screens are calibrated to color match the file accurately. It’s a closer match.

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’s printed, it must match your proof copy.

You’ll 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.

It’s a good idea to check your prints 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 accommodating.

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

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’s no reason why you shouldn’t get your digital printables done too.

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

It depends on the cost and the reason you bought the print. Sometimes all you need is a fun picture. Think of the kid’s nursery, their pictures have a short lifespan. Why spend a lot of money?

Most people using Staples just want quick and easy service from a store they trust, and to a standard that’s 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.

Why stop there? You don’t have to buy only art prints, what about coasters, a puzzle for the kids, or even gift wrap? That’s as long as it’s for personal use. You’ll need to buy a license for commercial use from the artist.

This is a useful course about making printables by Dana Gore on Udemy

Other stores worth checking out include:

  • Office Depot is another great option for printing. If you order online at Officedepot.com by 2 pm 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 in large format Look for coupons and grab their discount offers.
  • FedEx will print your Etsy 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.

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:

Joining Printful is another option. They have a good reputation for quality. They maintain standards by printing in-house with many centers around the world.

Printful homepage
I use Printful, give them a try

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. You have to order something.

Price is the most important factor for most buyers. The cost of the prints will vary depending on the size of the image, and the type of paper required. Most printers offer comparable prices and you’ll soon gauge what the average prices tend to be.

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 the competition. The obvious way is to use cheap 3rd party inks and cheaper paper.

That’s not always a problem, but you should thoroughly research the company before ordering. Their websites should mention the type of printer they’re 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 taken into account. Do they have a help center? A good company will respond quickly to any questions or concerns you may have about their services and rectify any problems.

I follow Ryan Hogue on Youtube. He is a great communicator and knows his subject very well.

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 large frame sizes. The frame size is the overall size and the aperture is the window inside the mount/mat.

Frame SizesMat 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
Aspect Ratios

Printing Art Prints at Home

You might have an inkjet printer at home already, in which case you’re in luck. I’m assuming you are familiar with how it works, so I’ll just remind you to use genuine 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 Giclee pigment printers, and the inks are considerably cheaper than pigment inks too.

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

Giclee pigment inkjet printers are considered the best printers 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’re 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 professional artists 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.

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.

Try these guys at Simple Canvas Prints

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
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’s thickness, its brightness, the material it’s made from, and its 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’.

How to 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.

Ideally, everyone would choose an archival paper stock. This is especially important for fine art prints intended to last the test of time.

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 you need 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 greeting cards 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 can provide.

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

How to Print Art Prints From Etsy: Final Thoughts

When you’re buying printables from Etsy sellers, your choice of printing, for the most part, will be influenced by convenience. Most buyers on Etsy will want an instant download that can be printed cheaply, to a standard size, to fit a cheap standard frame.

Many buyers will have their own printer, or have access to one, and do their own printing. If you haven’t got a home printer, choose a print shop or an office supply store to do the job for you.

Digital downloads are cheap and if you receive a quality file you’ll get good prints.

It’s far better to buy a flat print locally than to order a print online and have it rolled and sent in the post.

For the best results, you’ll have the extra cost of getting a Giclee print made on archival paper. Do this if you are buying your printable as a gift or as important home decor.

Print them in a local print shop where you can get a proof copy.

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.

If You Want to Sell Your Art

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Psst…it’s only $12.99!

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Where to Print Art Prints From Etsy (Downloads / Printables) Pinterest pin
The artist and Author Kevin Hayler

Hi, my name’s Kevin and I’m a real person!
I’ve been selling my wildlife art and traveling the world for over 20 years, and if that sounds too good to be true, I’ve done it all without social media, art school, or galleries!
I can show you how to do it. You’ll find a wealth of info on my site, about selling art, drawing tips, lifestyle, reviews, travel, my portfolio, and more. Enjoy