UPDATE July 2015: This review has been very popular, and since I've been using iprintfromhome for quite a while now I wanted to share a quick update to say that iprintfromhome is still working for me as great as ever! I've been ordering my holiday cards from them every year (I cut them myself) and the quality and service has still been perfect.
the giclee print dilemma
I just want to take a (long) moment to gush about my new favorite print company ever. I’ve been agonizing over producing quality prints to feel like a true professional, and finally wanted to try Giclee since: everyone pees their pants over it, it’s archival, it’s lightfast, etc. Well, after checking out a few sites, I was disheartened by what seemed like a poopload of hassle for every Giclee printer: Setup fees, having to ship artwork to scan, minimum orders, etc. My purse is not exactly bulging with money, so that wasn’t going to work. I wanted to be able to offer ALL my artwork as prints, and I certainly couldn’t afford all those fees for each piece!
my order with iprintfromhome.com
Then I found iprintfromhome via. Etsy. It seemed like everyone had a crush on them, so I decided to go see what the ruckus was all about. “iprintfromhome” wasn’t the most professional-sounding name, so at first I was a little cynical. But I must say I had a wonderful experience after all!
Their site is very easy to navigate, and everything is clearly laid out. They have “Photographic” prints, and “Fine Art” (Giclee) prints. The photographic prints are very affordable at $2.00 for an 8×10, while the Giclee are considerably more at $10 for an 8×10. However, there are no set-up fees, no minimum orders or any other bogus fees, and they do have discounts if you order more than one print. All the other Giclee printers I found charged at least $25 for one print, in addition to the setup cost. Even better, First Class shipping is only $3, and from what I can tell that’s for any size order!
Just to test out their quality and compare, I ordered:
- 4×6 Matte Photographic Print on Kodak Endura paper – $.30
- 4×6 Lustre Photographic Print on Kodak Endura paper – $.30
- 4×6 Giclee Art Print on Somerset Velvet paper – $5.00
I was immediately impressed by the fact that a real live person called me just to basically say “Hi” and make sure I didn’t have any questions or concerns. Maybe I’m just unlucky, but nobody ever does that for me! There weren’t even any hidden promotions involved– it seemed they just really wanted to make sure I was all set.
The shipping was also excellent. The site says it can take 3 business days to produce Giclee prints, but mine seemed to be on the way after only a day or two, and though I chose the cheapest shipping option, it took a total of 5 days from clicking “Order” to having them in my hand. The packaging was excellent. Everything was packed in a sturdy envelope with an additional sheet of cardboard backing, and the individial items were in their own protective envelopes with plenty of information about my prints attached. They even added a border to my image so it didn’t sit on the page funny (I had left it up to them to decide when I ordered) and wrote a letter explaining that they noticed I had an art print and they thought it would look nicest with a border. Compare that to Zazzle who apparently couldn’t even look at a calendar and tell what side was up before adding the spiral binding (grrr.. that’s another story!)
In ADDITION to this, they included a free sample pack and monitor calibration kit, to make sure my future prints matched their printers as closely as possible.
Yes, yes, I know, finally to the important part! Well.. the prints are beautiful! Here’s what I thought of each.
Photographic Prints: The photographic prints caught my image’s colors perfectly. They were vibrant, crisp, and had none of that extreme contrast and saturation that laser prints tend to give. However, I really would recommend them for photographs, which is why it is called a “Photographic” print. The back of the paper is printed with the Kodak Endura logo, and it just doesn’t seem very artsy. The prints were lovely, but the photo paper didn’t feel very “natural” at all. Even the matte was fairly glossy, which I imagine would bring out the colors of a photograph beautifully. But I would not make my art prints with their Photographic Print service.
Giclee Prints: Now we’re talking! I have nothing bad to say about the Giclee print I ordered. I find it really hard to tell the different between this print and my original painting, even without using their calibration tool. It is printed on a watercolor-type paper (Somerset Velvet) and touching it feels like you are touching someone’s work of art. The colors are vivid without being overly saturated or contrast-y (heh), and they add a 1 inch border around the piece to either trim it how you like or to have a border for framing. By this I mean that my 4×6 print actually arrived on 6×8 paper. I took advantage of this by hand-tearing the border to give it a deckled watercolor edge, which adds to the artistic quality even more. Awesome!
I’m hooked! One could argue that those other Giclee printers have drum scanners, setup fees and high costs because it results in a better print, and perhaps they are right. But when I look at a print and can barely even tell the difference between it and my original, then that seems like fine enough quality to me. Any more would be splitting hairs, wouldn’t it? However, since they DON’T scan your image for you, it’s your responsibility to get a quality scan. If your scan sucks, then your print will–most likely–suck.
Since I can order one print at a time with no hassle besides uploading my image, I plan to order prints on demand as people purchase them from my Etsy shop. This way I won’t have to keep any inventory or break the bank, but people can still receive very high quality prints. Hoorah!
If you want to check them out: iprintfromhome.com