Open Edition Prints
I've already gone over making original art, signed & no. prints, and artist's proofs; now to dive into the most common types of art prints: Open Edition.
Open edition prints don't have a limit to the amount the artist will print. Unlike signed & no. prints, where there is a set number to the edition, oped edition can be printed indefinitely. These are usually lower quality from the limited edition prints and don't hold the same value, but they're an affordable way to share your art with the world.
These prints can also be printed on mugs, tshirts, puzzles, etc. You'll see these types of prints on sites like Etsy, Society6, RedBubble, and street fairs. They're a great option to give to your buyers, especially considering that most people aren't serious art collectors.
Another advantage to selling open edition art prints, is that you don't have to be as involved as when you sell limited edition prints. You can even have them drop-shipped to your buyers, meaning you have a 3rd party print, package, and ship the order. You never have to touch it. Sites like Society6 do this for you. They set the price for your art and pay you a small percentage when it sells.
If you want to have a little more control over drop-shipping, I suggest checking out Art of Where. You can connect it to your Shopify store, so every time someone places an order, it goes straight to your Art of Where account and they send it out. They let you customize the packaging and will even include your business card in the order. You also have more control over the price and can determine how much you'll want to earn for each sale. (Always remember to factor in the costs of services like this when setting your price. It may not be worth it until you're making at least 5 sales a week).
EDITING YOUR FILES
When I first started selling prints, I had the most difficult time trying to figure out how to make good, quality prints. I'm a terrible photographer and I didn't have a very good camera at the time, so the quality of my prints weren't all that great. The colors were dull, and sometimes the background was discolored from shadows that I couldn't make go away. I was also terrible at using Photoshop, which didn't help.
I now have my art professionally scanned and I make prints off of the digital file they give me. Scanning costs about $40 per piece of art and is 100% worth it because you only have to do this once and you have an amazing high-res file of your work. If, however, you want to try photographing your own art and editing it for prints, check out my friend Addie's tutorial about it here.
These days, I'll make my open edition art prints through Staples (Addie uses OfficeMax). I'll upload my file onto their website and order as many prints as I need to fulfill orders for that week. I then go and pick them up and I ALWAYS check the prints before I leave. Sometimes they get bent when they're rolled, or the printing staff was too busy and forgot to crop them properly. I hate making two trips, so even if I have 50 prints I'll walk over to the packing table, unroll the prints, and look at each one before leaving.
You don't have to sign open edition prints, but I like to. Because the texture of the paper is glossy, I usually use a fine point sharpie (make sure to blow on it so it doesn't smear!). This is one of the advantages to handling your own printing process instead of outsourcing. I've had people buy prints as a gift and asked me to write something special on it. If I only drop-shipped I would have to tell them that a) it would take an additional 7 days for their art to arrive or b) no can do.
When I ship original art or signed & no. prints I always ship them in a flat box. The paper I use is so thick and heavy that it would crease if I tried to roll it. However, I ship my open edition prints in a tube. You can get free Priority Mail tubes from the Post Office. When I'm ready to ship I just log onto the USPS website to pay for and print the labels. This is AMAZING because you can just drop them off at the Post Office without having to wait in line.
I always include a business card, and I buffer the top and bottom of the tube with packing paper. Otherwise, the print might move around and hit the top or bottom of the tube and potentially damage the edges of your art. I also include the packing slip and a small 'thank you' card to the buyer. Though, as I get busier, I might need to reserve these for original art and signed & no. prints only. It's up to you how much work you want to put into your orders, and it's ok to change your process as you grow.
I think that covers everything. Leave me a comment if you have any questions, and make sure to check out Addie's blog for some amazing advice on running your Etsy shop and art business!