Thursday, June 30, 2011

supplies suppliers

i know when i was starting my shop, i had so many questions that i wished i could ask other digital artists, but i was way too shy to ask them.  i wanted to know what kind of printer they used and what they thought of it, where they got envelopes and clear sleeves and chipboard and other supplies.  so here is what i use and where i get it from, and how much it costs.
Digital Art Printing Supplies, Printer, Paper, Envelopes, Clear Mailers, Ink, Tape, Chipboard
Clockwise from top right:
1. I usually get my ink from Epson online, unless I run out in the middle of a job and I need ink really quickly, in which case I will go to Office Depot (it's only $1-$2 more).  Ink is $18.99 for each cartridge, and I probably buy about 3 cartridges per month.  my printer uses 6 inks (CMYK plus a light cyan and a light magenta).
2. My printer is the Epson Stylus Photo 1400 Ink Jet Printer.  I like it pretty well, I haven't had any major issues with it, no print heads clogging or anything, and I've had it for almost a year.  It's a large format printer, so I can print up to 13"x19".  Some of the more expensive printers have a light black ink, and I think that might be a better option for someone who prints a lot of grays, because my grays sometimes come out looking purple.  My printer was $300 with an $80 rebate.  I'm ashamed to say that I waited to long to do the rebate online, and I wasn't able to get it, so I actually paid the $300.  I'm an idiot, I know. 
3. I get my Flat Mailers from  I get the brown kraft color envelopes for my larger prints (I have one large enough for 11x14's (about $36 for 100), and one big enough for 13x19s.)  I get the white self-sealing mailers for my 8x10 prints, $29.60 for a case of 100, and I think I've only had one issue where one showed up bent, and I use USPS first class mail.
I started out unprepared and would go to CVS to buy envelopes when I made a sale, and that is a BAD IDEA, they are like $3.00 each or something.  Also, I went to Office Depot to buy mailing tubes for posters and they were like  $7 each... then I found some at Kroger for 50 cents each. also has mailing tubes in pretty colors, they are $36.50 for a case of 50.
4. For my larger envelopes, there are tabs to close the top but I want to make sure they can't be opened by a random person, so I got some cute woodgrain printed tape from tapeswell.  It was about $10 for the roll. I love the look of it, the only thing I wish was that the pattern was ongoing and didn't reset every 6 or so inches.
5. I get my clear envelopes from  I have 8x10, 5x7, 9x14, and 11x14.  8x10 is $14 per 100 envelopes.  When I have a print larger than that, I will cut the seam off the left side of one and off the right side of another, then overlap them.
6. I get my large format paper from Epson.  I use the Ultra Premium Presentation Matte Paper, $51.50 for 50 sheets, and anything I print over 8x10 gets printed on that paper then I cut it down to size with an X-Acto Knife.  
7. I get my 8.5x11 paper from Red River Paper.  It is called Aurora Art White, it is 100% cotton rag with a 13.5 mil thickness, and it has a slight texture.  It is really pretty and absorbs the colors really well to make them bright.  I used to print on a slightly semigloss paper, and it left the ink on top of the paper instead of absorbing it, and the colors would look washed out and not as solid as a result.  I really like this paper.  the only problem I have is that my printer will not pull in one sheet at a time if I put several pieces in the queue, so I have to sit there and put in one sheet of paper at a time.

Also I put a sheet or two of chipboard in my packages to prevent bending, and I get it from uline.  I got a large pack of 190 sheets of 18"x24" for $52, and I cut them down to size.  This is something that is really annoying and in the future I'll probably try to find 8x10's so I am not constantly having to cut chipboard for every order.  Or I could take some to a printer with one of the big automatic cutters, and get them to cut a bunch of 8x10's for me, if I ever quit being too proud to ask for help.

And in case you're wondering, I also put a thank you card and a business card (both of which I print myself)  in all my packages.

So, hopefully for anyone that is looking for information on supplies this was helpful.  Starting out on etsy as a digital printer is easy because you can just put the picture of your artwork online without having actually printed it, then when you finally start making sales you run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out how you're supposed to ship something.

And don't be like me and be too shy to ask other artists for their help or their opinions, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions anyone might have!

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