Friday, March 11, 2011

Ready, Set, Prints! A Post for my fellow Print Sellers on Etsy.

You have a great scanner that picks up every feathery pencil line and captures every brush stroke on the canvas. You've invested in a printer that reproduces gorgeous giclee quality prints that are rich in color, detail, and look every inch like the original. You've tested different papers and finally found that perfectly velvety page that holds crisp edges and soft washes. You did it, you created fantastic prints of your work! Well, show them off!

If you sell prints on etsy you may just be using simple scans of your artwork in your shop. And that's great, I do too. However, recently I began taking photographs of my prints 'in action' as it were, (on a desk, laid beside a notebook etc) and including one or two in my example images. It has worked well for me, so I wanted to share the idea with other folks selling prints!

Think of it this way: buyers on etsy can't see your product in person to imagine it in their own home. You have a chance to tell them a story, to hold their attention beyond one or two clicks through scans. Here you can allow them to view your print in a real setting. Take the time to set up some shots in your home and prove to potential customers your prints live up to their written descriptions! (Archival ink lifetimes are vital, but make for dry reading). Select a few interesting objects with similar hues to the colors in your piece, but be careful they don't overshadow your work. You're not selling the props, the props are selling your prints. The idea is to enhance the print, not to distract from it. This is a great opportunity to show how beautiful your print would look in a frame or placed behind a matte.

Here are some examples of the scanned images I have and the photographs I've added. If anyone tries this and has success with it, I would love to write a follow up blog post and include your scans and photographs!

The scan of my print 'Gnome Home'. 
To keep the whimsical feel of the print, I placed it on the underside of
a writing desk I have with a quaint, green country pattern.
The scanned image of my print "The Pseudooctopus".
Maybe try to get a few close up shots on the
prints for details. I took a close up of this one because I
 wanted to show the  pencil lines in the tentacles.
The scan of my print "Letters From the Edge of the World". Here's
a good example where a scan might look a little plain on its own,
or a buyer might not be interested in lavender print.
I paired the print with some earth tones. While a buyer might not have
a lot of purples in their home, they may have plenty of browns!
The scan of my print "Gentle Robot". This is another
example where a scan might be a little plain on its own.
However, when surrounded by cheery colors a
buyer can see where this print might fit into a child's bedroom.
The scan of my print "An Avid Anthropologist."
If you have a print with a lot of details, a photograph can properly show the
buyer your printing capabilities better than a scan of the original work. A buyer
might worry the printer you're using could lose those little touches.
The scan of my print "Flightless No Longer".
A close up can display the quality of the inks and
papers you're using.
New to photography? Don't be shy! There are plenty of articles out there telling etsy sellers just how crucial photographs are to the success of a product and many teach new photographers the basics. Etsy offers some wonderful tutorials of their own if you're interested in improving your photography skills, in particular "Etsy's Guide to Photography" which can be found here. If you're having a rough time getting photos that catch the real appeal of your product, "Etsy's Guide to Photography" is going give you everything you need to create pictures worth a thousand words. Positive words like: beautiful, well made, quality, clean, want, need, now! 

These photos aren't meant to replace the stand alone images of your work, only to add to them. I still like to use a scan for my first example image, so the buyer can see the illustration as it is. These photographs have certainly helped to give folks a better idea of the quality print they will receive in the mail. They will quickly demonstrate the written descriptions of the paper and inks you've chosen, and promise a beautiful, affordable alternative to an original piece of work. I hope this has given you some inspiration!  


  1. I think this is a great idea. I'm usually in such a hurry to get something new listed that I don't bother, but I can see how this might make it more appealing to buyers.

  2. This is a wonderful, useful post -- thanks so much, and I'm sorry it got shut down over at Etsy :(

  3. This is a helpful blog, but I'm really writing to say I love your work! So much fun!

  4. Thank you folks! And thanks the Dangerous Mezzo, I felt quite badly that they had seen it as promotion--I can totally see their point, I'm rather new to etsy and I think if I'd been able to find more print peddlers who are also using photos I would have been better to use several artists. However, if I could find more then there wouldn't be a need for me to tell people--haha! I really think this can help other print sellers. I've been looking for a print team to try and share it with since.


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