The illustrator’s guide to online printers

I’m in the middle of the convention season. For the last 2 months my studio have been a mess of preparations to get everything ready in time. I recently attended IlluxCon from Sep. 11th to 15th. You can read my recap of the IlluXCon convention experience here.

Next up is New York Comic Con from Oct. 10th to 13th. I learned some valuable lessons during last years conventions which I intend to utilize this time around:

Before you print

Most of my convention preparation consists of printing various materials for sale and promotion. I have researched and tried out a variety of online printers and thought I’d share which I have found to be the best here.

First and foremost when you are ordering from online printers ALWAYS google the name of the printer and ‘coupon’ before checking out. There are often times quite a bit of money to be saved.

Secondly, a piece of advice from illustrator Tim Paul: “GET YOUR PRINTS DONE IN ADVANCE. Do NOT have them come in a few days before you need them. If something goes wrong, and your first few times getting stuff printed, it probably will, there is NO time to redo the order.

About a month+ before, send off your files. Order the smallest amount. It might cost a little more, but then you can see what they will look like, and make adjustments and reprint larger quantities.

OR pay extra for a printed proof. Not a digital proof, a printed proof. After a while you will learn what you need to do to get the best images.”

Printer Options

 

Overnightprints.com

Pros: I find Overnightprints to be the most affordable printer. They have a wide selection of items and if you order larger quantities they offer Spot UV which can make your postcards and business cards look even more snazzy. They are my preferred printer for business cards and postcards.

Cons: When “converting” an image from digital to print, it’s only natural there are some color differences, however I find that the printing at Overnightprints.com come out even darker than at other companies and at times the colors can be a little dull. You have to take this into account when preparing your files for printing.

 

Moo.com

Pros: Moo has a very high quality product with a unique look. They’re especially popular for their mini business cards and their ‘Luxe’ version which are printed on extra thick paper. Their product packaging is also nothing short of a fantastic experience. For business cards and postcards they allow you to use multiple images in a set so you can order 50 postcards with 4 different images for instance. This is something I really wish other printers would adopt as well.

Cons: You pay for the quality, their costs are generally higher than most other printers and also they have a limited range of products. The quality of the product is worth the cost though, so if you can afford it: go for it.

Their odd formats can both make your business cards stand out but also they won’t fit in sleeves for storing these cards. Depending on how Art Directors store cards, this can be both a + and a -.

My business cards from last year. Printed by Moo.com

My business cards from last year. Printed by Moo.com

 

Zazzle.com

Pros: Zazzle is great for merchandise. You can create a store where you design and sell your products directly without the hassle of creation and shipping. I find their quality to be pretty good. I usually use them for short run postcard prints when I need to see what a piece might look like in print.

Cons: They are a little pricey, if you create a store the majority of the income will go to Zazzle and their regular shipping is really slow.

 

InPRNT.com

Pros: InPRNT is exclusively for gicleé prints and if you can afford it this is the best way to present your pieces in print. It’s really high, gorgeous quality. You can register an online store with them and sell your prints through their site. They also offer an artist’s discount if you purchase your own pieces for later sale.

Cons: Gicleé is not cheap but it’s worth it.

 

uPrinting.com

Pros: uPrinting have a lot of similarities with Overnightprints.com but I find their quality to be a little better. They have a wide selection of products and from what I researched are the most affordable printer for doing full color booklets. They also have great customer service!

Cons: Better quality than overnightprints.com also mean a little higher costs, it’s not much though so they are worth checking out.

 

Vistaprint.com

Pros: I only use Vistaprint for one thing: vinyl banner printing. They’re by far the most affordable printer when it comes to banners. Their other products are also very low cost but…

Cons: The quality isn’t the best and therefore I generally shy away from them, also their website design is pretty unattractive and not very user friendly.

I shared my table with my good friend Betsy Peterschmidt at New York Comic Con, 2012.

Betsy Peterschmidt and I at NYCC 2012, banners are from Vistaprint

I hope this has been helpful, if there are any online printers you have experiences with that I haven’t mentioned here, please feel free to leave a comment.

Links:
Overnightprints.com
Uprinting.com
INPRNT.com
Zazzle.com

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

3 Comments

  • Nattles

    01.10.2013 at 21:26 Reply

    Hmm, I’ll look into uPrinting for short prints runs of artbooks. For regular individual prints, I like iprintfromhome, which I’ve found to be pretty user friendly, decent quality, and great price. I’ve used Overnight Prints but didn’t like image quality (I sent a high quality file too.) I’ve also used MPix, and while their quality is decent, but the website is pretty user un-friendly. If your image doesn’t quite fit the specs, they’ll crop it instead of shrinking it down to fit, which I hate. No leeway there.

  • Stevie Moore

    02.10.2013 at 00:05 Reply

    Nice Write up! I really like Jackprints for stickers and I also had the same darker colors issue with Overnight Prints. They weren't terrible, but the colors were quite different.

  • Kelley

    01.10.2013 at 17:08 Reply

    This is extremely helpful. I’ve used both Overnightprints and Zazzle. Despite the name, Overnightprints ships VERY slow – it takes about 3 weeks to receive my order. But they are indeed very affordable. In my experience, Zazzle ships very quickly, but perhaps that’s because I’m located very close to their facility. Zazzle is not cheap and not the best quality, so I mostly only use it if I’m in a rush.

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