Monday, May 18, 2009

Three places to get affordable artist business cards


Artist cards in a series: circa 2004 and 2005.

The relatively recent revolution in printing has had enormous impact on the small business person, and that includes us artists. 20 years ago, just thinking about full color cards could set you back easily $500 or more. These days, you can compete with your peers in brilliant full color for less than the cost of meal out, in some cases.
A bit of detail, for the detail minded: Prior to current methods of modern printing, commercial printers used the Four Color Process (and many high-end houses till do). Recall our earlier discussion on Photoshop Tips about CMYK vs. RGB? CMYK refers to the inks in the four color process: Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow, and Black). Artwork had to be mechanically (or photographically) separated into four plates; and each printed sheet had to be run through the press 4 separate times. These are a couple of reasons why it was so costly.

More artist cards I like:



(more fun artists business cards: the one of the left uses a closeup of a large painting; the center one is a nice example of a simple black ink on cream card stock; the right one features on of the artist's sensitive pet portraits)

Modern offset printing, on the other hand, streamlines the color spearation and printing process making it much more cost effective. Here are some things to consider when looking for a printing supplier:
  • What kind of quality do I want? Good enough, pretty good, really great?
  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • Can I have business cards printed and still be environmentally conscious?
  • Am I happy to have one card with one or two images, or do I need lots and lots of variety?
  • Do I have the software I need to set up my own card, or do I need an online template that will help me set it up?
Here's a quick run down of several printers who may meet your needs, based on your criterion above. I'll include a brief bit of information on each one; please refer to their websites for more details. For a fair contrast of pricing, each price mentioned is for a single sided full color card, and includes the least expensive postage, and any other standard charges. Postage may vary according to your location.

VistaPrint.com is the low price leader. If price is your main deciding factor, they will be hard to beat. Like all the other printers, they produce a wide variety of items, including biz cards, post cards, brochures, mailing labels, etc. There is a $5 upload fee for any design or image, but you can use that on multiple items, if you wish. This is currently my printer of choice for postcards.

Price:

  • Orders start at about $11 for 250 cards
    (this includes their 'free' business card option, with one image upload charge (about $5) and slowest shipping (about $6). Choices on matte or glossy paper may change from day to day; paper upgrade is about $13)

Pros:

  • low price
  • some online design capabilities -- also offers a design service for an additional fee
  • often runs specials and price breaks
  • delivers all over the world

Cons:

  • Slightly lighter card weight than other printers (-- still far superior to print-your-own variety; they do not curl and the ink won't run or rub off)
  • Cards are slightly undersized (1.93" x 3.43"-- standard is 2" x 3.5")
  • The gloss card stock coated is on one side only


PSPrint.com
is a reliable mid range online printer. One different thing about their process is you place the order and pay first, and upload your artwork later. They do offer an online design tool, Design It!, if you do not have access or skill to design your own card (caveat: I haven't tried this tool, but it looks interesting). PS Print is currently my printer of choice for business cards.

Price:

  • With the current special 250 cards start at about $32; the regular price is about $54 (both with with standard shipping).

Pros:

  • Heavier card stock, gloss on both sides
  • Full size cards
  • Recycled card stock available!
  • Current special: 50% off business cards until May 31

Cons:

  • Pay first/upload later is confusing to some users
  • a lot of choices to wade through in terms of turnaround (printing and shipping)
  • This both pro and con: Small orders starting at 50 are available, but it is much more cost effective to start at the 250 amount.


Moo.comThis European printer (but now with a plant in the US) is new to me, but both Kim Denise (see her special offer below) and Manon Doyle give it excellent reviews (see their card sets on last Friday's post). The biggest attraction: you can have multiple images printed in a single order.

Cost: (does not include shipping; I was not able to ascertain this in time for the post)

  • $24.95 for 50 (upload up to 50 images) plus shipping
  • $70 plus shipping for 200
  • 100 mini cards for $19.95 (upload up to 100 images)

Pros:

  • Great print/color quality
  • Heavy card stock with a smooth matte coating -- nice to touch
  • Environmentally conscious paper available! Choose from 'Moo classic" sourced from sustainable forests OR "Moo Green" 100% Recycled Fibre
  • Multiple images available in a single order
  • Upload is very simple
  • Trial ten-packs available for no cost except shipping

Cons:

  • A more expensive option than some
  • Shipping was slow (2 weeks) because they came from England, but it should be a lot faster now that they've got a printer in Connecticut.
  • "One more negative about the cards is that everyone loves them so much they want more that one.....lol!" (says Manon)

Kim Denise has put a promotional code in the comments on her blog post. Click here to use it for your first order and get a 20% discount! Thanks, Kim!!!

Other vendors to consider: If this hasn't confused you enough, a couple of other reputable printers are Modern Postcard (Cathyann mentioned she likes them, and I had my first color postcards printed by them years ago) and Overnight Prints (a super-glossy favorite of one of my design clients)

22 comments:

  1. Thanks for another informative post, r! I love my Moo cards. I also used PSPrint a few years ago for propmotional postcards for a business I was running--they were beautiful, good quality and very cost-effective when purchased in large quantities.

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  2. Great information! I have used Overnight Prints in the past and they had reasonable prices and the staff was very helpful.

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  3. Great post R! I'm with Kim in that I just love my Moo cards. I wouldn't use anyone else for my business cards at this point!

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  4. Thanks for the information R. Lots to sort through; happy you are sharing your experience (pros/cons) with us. :)

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to share this information!

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  6. Exceptionally good post! Thank you so much for all the options and information. Having a graphic designer in the house has informed me that being an artist isn't necessarily the only element required in making an appropriate presentation, whether in business cards or other areas.

    Your post helps define how important, and how different, the approach is when designing cards.

    Your artwork is stunning too!

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  7. Dear aRt,
    Thanks for the info. I just ordered from Moo.

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  8. I see the making of a book here R.

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  9. Thanks for the list! I've used Overnight Prints many times and have always been satisfied with them, plus you can usually find a code here that will give a nice discount:
    http://www.retailmenot.com/view/overnightprints.com

    I always got the glossy before but the last time I ordered I decided not to. Without it's not a completely matte finish, more like a slight semi-gloss, but I like it.

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  10. Hi R.,

    Thanks so much. You are the most informative person I know.

    Take care,

    Barbara

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  11. aRt, you're the best. Thank you so much for sharing such insightful information, I know it is greatly appreciated by all of us. VistaPrint is the only online printer I have used and I have only used them for postcards. This has been timely information since I am needing business cards at this time and I am looking into having blank notecards printed.

    Again, in case I forgot to mention it, you're the best!

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  12. Hello, r! Great post about the printers! A friend of mine suggests City Colors at http://www.citycolors.com/v2/index.php. She swears by them, and their prices.

    Also, I am awarding you the Noblesse Oblige blog award, in recognition of your informative blog and your beautiful artwork, which always delights and transports me. You're supposed to do all sorts of stuff with this award - please don't feel compelled. Feel free to just put it on your blog (or not) and accept it as a sign of my admiration and support!

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  13. I'm so glad to see someone focusing on business cards. I've seen so many that were printed at home or designed poorly that just turned me off from the work. Also, I agree with Kerri...I've been using Overnightprints.com for a while and have been pleased with the quality.

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  14. Thank you so much for all the great information you post, you are so generous with your time and effort.

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  15. Thanks so much, r, for posting this information!!

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  16. Great information which is timely for me after wasting most of a day struggling to design a card on my computer. I love you blog.... its always a delight to see your paintings.

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  17. Wealth of fabulous info, R. Thank you so much!! You are tops.

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  18. Thanks, everyone! I hope this gets you all off and running in a helpful direction.

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  19. Great post here! I've used both Vista Print & MOO...happy with both & will probably re-order from both...but those MOO cards are super gorgeous!

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  20. Indeed thank you for this post. Will be checking them out.

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  21. Thanks Roxanne and Gary for checking in!

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  22. What a great post! I appreciate all the effort in putting this together, I'm very interested in the moo cards. (I found your blog from Manon's moo post.)

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Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.