So you want to buy a printer to bring all your photos and artwork to life, but you cannot decide which model or brand to choose. With the vast array of options available these days, it is very easy to make a mistake and end up buying the wrong printer. The wrong printer is not necessarily bad rather it doesn’t suit your needs. To get the right printer, first you must identify what you wish to do with it, and how much money you can spend on a printer that prints photos and artwork.
What to look for when buying a printer for art prints?
If you are a home user then there are plenty of choices to print your photos and artwork at cheap prices, provided you don’t print too much each day. If you are a more heavy duty user and wish to print on multiple sizes of papers to create posters, banners, etc. then you should choose an office grade dedicated photo and banner printer for the task, since it will output high-quality work, and do it fast.
Most of the tie you cannot distinguish between the print quality of a powerful home inkjet printer and a business grade inkjet printer. The ones who can differentiate are the professionals who this stuff for a living, so if you are an amateur or hobbyist then you are probably fine with an entry level prosumer color inkjet.
If you want to step it up, you have machines that produce amazing photos but are not meant to be used as photo printing stations chiefly because of the high per photo print costs. Then you have the machines with incredibly fast print speeds, capable of printing on all sizes of paper and photo paper along with cardstock and canvas. You probably also want your new printer to have features such as Photobridge so that it can directly print from your camera.
Having features such as Ethernet allows you to connect the printer to an office network so that multiple users can access it at the same time and queue up their tasks. Wi-Fi lets you remote print with your phone, tablet or laptop.
After you make sure your printer has some or all of these features you can move on to other stuff such as the loader and tray capacity, the print resolution, and printing speed. Your new artwork printer must be able to print good black and white photos because some printers can handle color very well but they produce varying shades of gray while printing in black and white. While looking for an artwork printer, you might also check out if it has any features such as an LCD screen.
Try to make an estimate on the ink costs and per month operation costs for your printer as some tend to have low initial costs but end up costing a lot more through ink expenditure. Now that you know what to look for, let us begin our lists of the best printers for art prints and artists.
Epson Expression ET-7750 EcoTank Printer
• Accommodates pages that are up to 17 inches wide, without sacrificing an impressive 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution
• Supports specialty paper up to 23 mil in thickness loaded through a rear feeder
• Uses special technology, called a SuperTank according to Epson’s marketing literature, to drastically reduce the amount of ink needed
• Fairly large due to the fact that it supports wide sheets, which also limits the tray size
• Tends to run at a price nearly twice that of the competition, though users might save over the long haul by filling the ink reservoirs instead of using cartridges
• Provides users with a strange combination of discrete buttons and an LCD display
If you’re printing out serious photographs or digital paintings but can’t afford to waste too much ink, then the ET-7760 EcoTank might be the best printer for you. It uses special five-color ink that’s similar in quality to those used by graphic design shops. In fact, many graphic designers have opted to use the 7760 in their place of business in spite of the fact that it can only print a few monochrome documents a minute.
A few artists who design posters with Ubuntu have lamented that this printer is too new for their machines to support it. Compatibility wasn’t a problem for most others, however, and longevity shouldn’t be an issue either. It even comes with enough ink to last most artists around 24 months.
Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Wireless Inkjet Printer
• Can often finish printing color images in just under 90 seconds while monochrome pages take less than a minute
• Prints images at a massive 4800 x 2400 resolution, which gives artists the freedom to reproduce documents as large as 13 in. x 19 in. without visible digital artifacts
• Optimum Image Generating System (OIGS) technology logically selects the best ink combinations automatically
• Requires specific Canon-branded cartridges, which can sometimes be rather expensive and add to the already fairly hefty price tag
• Doesn’t support Linux-based art software without installing a workaround
• Users may have to create separate print profiles for making typographical art
Artists have long relied on the Canon PIXMA series for making professional-grade prints, and the Pro-100 builds on this long legacy. With generous paper trays and support for grayscale ink, the Pro-100 would be perfect in a professional print shop as well as in your home studio. A loading bin on the top takes around a quarter of a ream of document paper, but the printer also offers a second tray for loading thick photo paper that wouldn’t fit in a regular hopper.
This gives you the ability to make gorgeous black and white photographs or drawings that look every bit as good as those produced made on a press. Poster and sign designers will appreciate the fact that it supports glossy and luster paper, which is very close to the style used by industrial printmakers. While you will have to configure individual typographic profiles to take advantage of it, those who do any sort of calligraphy will be pleased with the high DPI of any letterforms that might accompany an artistic print.
You can take advantage of a borderless printing mode, which gives you the freedom to use as much of a sheet as possible. As soon as you have this mode switched on you won’t have to stand next to the printer the next time you want to make a borderless print, either, because it supports wireless networking out of the box.
Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Printer
• Since it can shoot out a couple of pages a minute, the Expression XP is much faster than most comparable fine art printers
• Makes professional HD-quality prints on A3-sized paper while also supporting smaller traditional photo sizes
• Offers a tray that can hold upwards of 200 sheets
• Forces you to load specialty media through a tray in the back
• Comes with some features, like Amazon Dash connectivity, that many artists won’t need
• Requires configuration through a front-panel touchscreen menu
When you need professional quality prints but can’t afford something that carries too hefty of a price tag, you might want to look into the XP-15000. While Epson is still listed as a vendor, the printer is sold under their more cost-conscious Expression brand, which also translates into less money spent on cartridges. In spite of this, you won’t have to sacrifice much in the way of quality.
In fact, it still produces full-sized HD photographs and digital paintings without throwing noticeable digital artifacts into the finished product. You will have to spend some time to configure it the first time you take it out of the box, but once you’ve finished you won’t have to mess with the front-panel touchscreen display too much.
Best of all, the XP-15000 can print borderless color images in less than 30 seconds in many cases. It supports Ethernet connectivity. The XP-15000 also comes with interfaces for Hi-Speed USB jacks as well as optical discs, which might make this an attractive option for anyone who runs a business selling their own unique designs.
Epson SureColor P800 Inkjet Printer
• Comes with support for UltraChrome HD inks, which can produce prints that literally last for centuries while also offering three-level black ink modes for monochrome art
• Offers hefty trays that can hold several sheets of fine art paper or thicker poster board
• Supports many types of older computers that artists often use in print shops, including those using Apple’s proprietary hardware
• Proprietary software that comes with the printer is only compatible with some OS installs
• Tends to run toward the higher end of the price spectrum
• Prints can be smudged before they’re dry out of the tray
While the SureColor P800 features a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1440 dpi regardless of the paper size used, you’d never know it. The finished prints look quite sharp once they’re dry owing to the fact that variable nozzles can make up to three different sizes of droplets per print line.
This printer supports larger sizes of fine art paper, though some of the heavier weights might cause it to jam. This newer model does represent a large jump in reliability over previous versions of the SureColor, however.
HP ENVY Photo 7855 All-in-One Printer
• Gives you the freedom to print directly from SD cards and USB sticks without using a bridge device
• Allows you to print from many different types of networked devices, which is perfect if you run a design studio
• Supports printing on several card sizes as well as envelopes, which is ideal for graphic design artists
• Comes with an onboard scanner and copier, which many artists may not need
• Only supports regular paper and photo print media
• Output tray can only hold a relatively small number of sheets before getting overloaded
Even though the ENVY 7855 is the closest to a consumer-grade printer on the list, it’s got plenty of features that should please those invested in the art world. Budget-conscious graphic designers or print shop owners may be relieved to know that it supports less expensive ink, and it doesn’t come with too high of an upfront cost. You can load lower-end cartridges in for printing drafts before replacing them when you want to print the final version of a piece of artwork.
While you won’t find much support for thicker media, it’s perfect for poster designers and commercial artists who have to make many copies of the same piece of artwork with no variation between each one. You do have to remember to regularly empty the tray when using it this way, however. Optical resolution and print speed differ with the type of paper, but it seems that many graphic artists appreciate this fact since it gives them the freedom to offer several different choices to their patrons when printing designs.
Any of these printers should work well in most artistic environments, though some might be better depending on your specific use case. If you’re looking for the best printer for fine arts use, then you’ll probably want to opt for the Canon PIXMA Pro-100 because it supports a wide array of specialty media while featuring excellent color correction. While Canon doesn’t market their own canvas media, several artists have mentioned that it prints onto canvas once they installed a driver update and changed a couple of configuration options. It didn’t even crease the media when used this way, which makes it an excellent choice if you’re making unique art prints that you plan to show off in your own gallery. Best of all, color reproduction is vivid enough that some artists say it could pass for press quality.