Ask Craz! vol. 1

Say HERRO to a new advice blog post series I’m planning to offer called “Ask Craz!”

The art business world can be vast and pretty daunting! That’s why I like to share my advice in my blog posts on larger topics like follower numbers, shipping commissions, selling in artist alleys, and more! From time to time, there are some questions I get that are a little smaller and — although they may not fill an entire blog post on their own — groups of them will!

Every Ask Craz! post will consist of 3 or so questions along with my answers. If you have a question about art or art business that you’d like me to answer for a future post, feel free to submit your question to me on the contact page or via social media! The more questions I get, the more I’ll be posting more “Ask Craz!” posts to the series!

Today’s edition of Ask Craz: “Prints, enamel pins, and social media advertising… OH MY!”

Question: I plan to start printing my traditional art as 8.5″x10″ and 4″x6″ prints on matte card-stock through a print shop. What should my files be like to get them ready for printing?

Answer: For your print files, you should be working in CMYK (make any edits or clean up in Photoshop under the CMYK document mode.) Here’s a blog post about the difference between your RGB scan file and the file your printer will need to print CMYK:

When capturing the artwork on a scanner, every scanner is a bit different and settings can make or break your image; much like working with a camera. I recommend trying to capture a few different scans on a few different settings. I scan traditional art at 600ppi or larger just in case I want to make a print that is 2x larger than the original artwork, I have the scan data to do it without losing detail and quality.

You should scan your artwork at LEAST 300ppi (pixels per inch) so it can print at 300dpi (dots per inch.) That’s the standard minimum print resolution. (For reference, typical web resolution is 72ppi. If you post a standard 72ppi 10″x10″ image to the web, it would appear 720 pixels wide. A 300ppi 10″x10″ image posted to the web it will appear 3000 pixels wide (4+ times larger.) This is why I send a web (RGB 72ppi) file and a print (CMYK 300ppi) file with digital commissions.

As for prints, 8″x10″ is recommended as a standard size. 4″x6″ and 5″x7″ are also standard sizes. And when I say standard, I mean that more frames. mats, and other packaging are available for this size online and even in stores.

If you have artwork that spills all the way to the edges of your print (in other words you don’t want white border to appear), this is called a “full bleed” in the print industry. My printer Catprint doesn’t require print area beyond the final size for full bleed (they accept 1:1 file to print size and cut perfectly so that the art fills the page without white border.) However some printers (like Vistaprint) do. If you need to provide this extra art for a full bleed, you would need to make sure that your print has 1/8″ [or 0.125″] to every direction extra (so 1/4″ [or 0.25″] wider and 1/4″ [or 0.25″] taller) to allow for cutting the artwork so there isn’t a narrow white scrap border all the way around. However, if your artwork has white around it (like if it were a character in the middle of a completely white space), that extra 1/8″ bleed area is generally unnecessary.

Question: My business partner and I have been making buttons to give to our customers in order to help promote our brand. Now we want to upgrade to enamel pins! Unfortunately, we’re unsure how to start. I’m not asking for any suppliers but I would love a push in the right direction, general advice, maybe big red flags to look out for? I’m a bit lost right now!!

Answer: After doing a considerable amount of Google searching for “Hard enamel pin manufacturers”, I came across the manufacturer I’ve been working with since first offering pins earlier this year. I personally can recommend working with Sarah at! They’ve been great to work with. They’re timely, they produce high quality work, they send along a few extra pins sometimes, and they offer a lot of options for metals and add-ons which are listed and described on their site! Their site also has a Pantone list of the enamels they offer which takes the guess-work out of designing! You can even work with them to print backing cards and have pins assembled onto them. The biggest drawback is that they don’t send photos of pins from the factory. I know some manufacturers do but QLP does not so you only see the end result when it’s in your hand. Thankfully they’ve been good about quantities and even when I had a pin break on a customer and I gave her my last personal pin, Sarah at QLP was able to send me a replacement; she said they keep an extra pin or two on hand for instances like this! QLP is US-based but they seem to work with factories in China; you may pay a little extra since they’re the middle-man but I feel it’s completely worth it since they work as your project manager and translator.

Other people have worked with Alibaba companies but you work directly with Chinese factories. This means you may have to work on your google translate skills to communicate what you want and be clear about timelines. Plus it’s like amazon where it’s a common platform for hundreds of businesses so you have to hope that the factory you choose is a reputable one!

Some people recommend Pingamestrong but they never got back to me when I was first shopping for a supplier so I don’t really know if they are overwhelmed by requests for quotes or if they didn’t feel they could manufacture my howling wolf pin concepts. Zap! Creatives used to make pins but they had both speed and quality issues and have since discontinued their enamel pin offerings.

As for order quantities, the price you pay depends on size, special features, and it’s generally better to order 100 so each pin is cheaper to make. 1 pin =$200+ while 100 pins = $2 each. Always do some market research on pins and pricing before offering yours. Some people undersell their pins. $10 is a comfortable price for a 1″ pin with only a few enamel colors. More elaborate pins and larger pins should obviously be sold for more $.

If you’re planning to simply give yours away, you could consider getting a larger amount of pins so that it’s far cheaper per pin (almost like a business card people can wear, multi-use sticker, etc… A pretty cool way to advertise in this day of enamel pin collecting, if you ask me!)

Question: I’m a work-from-home artist and I am on all the major social media platforms. Usually, I will immediately post when I finish something but I’m not seeing a lot of activity from my followers. I just posted a bunch of commissions I finished this week at 3pm and no one seems to notice! It’s just so FRUSTRATING! When is the best time to post on social media so my posts are actually seen??

Answer: As a work-from-home artist, it can be difficult to remember that not everyone has access to social media as often as we do. This is why we have to cater our posting habits to our followers.From experience and what I’ve seen around the web, I suggest posting at 9am and at 5pm. These are times when people are at work/school (and don’t want to be lol) or just got home from work/school. I may also post around noon to get people who are on their lunch breaks. These are all much better times for people to be poking around social media! Additionally, the more you can spread out your posts so that you can post once a day, the better! Making a post dump all on one day or at once can overwhelm your followers. Dumps seem to allow people to selectively react to your posts; they can pick and choose or compare so they only “like” or comment on what they favor the most.

Post once per day and keep them coming back for more! Consistency is key to keeping your account active and fresh. It’s ok to skip a few days but posting something is often better than nothing at all. If you have a lot to post, try making your posts in advance on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages. You can schedule them to launch on Facebook while the other social media options allow you to keep drafts until you’re ready to submit your post to the world!

Have a question you’d like me to answer and share on a future Ask Craz post?
Feel free to submit your question to me on the contact page!

If you found this post informative, feel free to share on social media!
If you have experience or suggestions to share, I would appreciate your comments below!

Much LORF!

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