I think there’s nothing better than getting a print in the mail. To me, it totally feels like Christmas. As i’ve spent many a time listening to famed Wildlife Photographer Moose Peterson saying “Its all in the Presentation” – and I feel blessed to say that what i’ve learned about this packing process has totally come from watching and listening to him. Recently I made a print for someone that I was hanging out at a Google hangout, and I thought to myself “Hey.. how about if I go through the entire process of getting it out?”
Think of it this way. When you make an image, you’ll totally want to print it and sell it. I bet there are a ton of people that are out there that have printers for this kind of situation, and have the images that could totally be sold – much like Tawni has here. However, I’m always asked how much to sell a print. As best as I try to give a recommendation for a price, people usually shudder or cringe. Surely, whatever -that- price is is too expensive. Totally not gonna happen.. whos going to get that.
I’ll tell you who – the person who gets a print presented to them rather than mailed to them. When you touch a print that comes off of quality fine art paper, and its packaged nicely, the entire unboxing takes on an experience. When a customer gets your print, the process of “Wow.. i wonder if this is worth it” starts from the moment they get that box in the mail. You roll it and ship it? Bet they’ll think its cheaper than it is. Present it in silk, that print will be shown off 100 times before it goes to the framer.
So.. lemme talk about how I generally look at this (again, keeping in mind that there may be some deviations here.. )
Printer and Paper
Printer: Here at the office, we are blessed to use what I think are the best printers out there – Epson Stylus Pro 4900 Inkjet Printer and Stylus Pro 7900, 24 Photo Printer, The colors that come out of those printers are just beautiful. Fast, quiet. Totally the gold standard when it comes to printers.
Paper: Im a big fan of two kinds of paper here. First off is the Epson Signature Worthy Papers – specifically the Cold Press Bright and Hot Press Bright. Images just look like they pop right out of the paper. Another big favorite of mine is paper from Hahnemuhle. From Photo Rag Bright White to Monet Canvas (which I think is soo good) – Hahnemuhle is pretty much synonymous with fine art, and a total must if you are printing. Be sure to check out this link – they’re more than willing to send you a little sample of the kinds of things they print. This will get you started on what kinds of images work where..
Now, once you have the print on the paper.. and that’s all well taken care of, we need to get this thing out.
Uline sells these shipping boxes for prints as well as sharing cardboard inserts for the boxes. For each box, you should use about 2 cardboard inserts. 24×30 Prints would fit in Product S-3397 with a 2483 Cardboard Insert while a 17×22 print would fit in Product 3396 with a 24×18 Cardboard Pads
To pack the print, I usually like to use Tissue paper to wrap it. Uline has this 24” Kraft Tissue paper dispenser that works well. Pulling the paper out, I lay the print on it face down and bring two sides of it together.
Usually some of this tape works well in the packing of it. More and more i’m trying to be VERY careful as to how I rip this. Imagine spending a lot of time getting the box and print to look nice, only to have the yellow strips of tape look horrible. You can either use a scissor to do this, or get a dispenser. I’m still trying to find a dispenser tho..
Add A Card
What’s it cost? Couple of bucks for a generic pack of cards and a pencil? Sit down and write a quick message to your client – thanking them for supporting you. While your signature on the print has already added “authenticity” to the print, this little gesture at the start of the process – before they even Open the print can help validate a purchase for the client, as well as show that you do care for their support. Its the right thing to do.
The card is stuck to the paper with scotch tape.. the print is mounted to the board. Place the second cardboard insert on top of all of this and tape it on the four sides with one small piece of tape.
Stuff The Box
Grab the insert box and start bending it to make room for the print. Bend all four parts to get them ready, then place the Print in the box. Fold the little flaps in first, then fold the big flaps in.
Once this puppy’s done – tape the box down.
Look Bigger Than You Are with Fedex and Avery
So you spend all of this time placing very great care in how the print is printed, and packaged, but then are going to use regular tape and your handwriting to send out a package? No no no!!! This will Not Do! The best thing I can offer in this case is to go to Fedex.com and sign up for an account! Its free, and you can tie your credit card to it. Once you do, you can get an account number of your very own. Logging into the site, you can create a shipping label for this print – which looks all “Big Business” like.
Again… while the information sounds pretty simplistic – keep in mind these little things are what everyone fixates on. When you want to continue to justify a specific brand and a specific look, its these attention to detail that make it all happen. This barcode and computer generated address looks good, but you’re going to have to tape this onto the box for shipping. Instead of having to get out the tape gun again, i’d recommend using a package of Avery Internet Shipping Labels # 5126. Good part about this? You slip one in your printer, and print this label – rip off the top one and you’re good to go. The Bad News? There are 2 per sheet.. and I cant find a way yet, to flip the paper and use the bottom half as Fedex prints some stuff on the bottom too .. Boo fedex.. Boo!
Now your print is finally setup and ready to be dropped off at Fedex!!
While that seems like a lot of steps, its usually not that long before you totally get into a rhythm of doing it. If you havent noticed it already, it can also get a little pricey to actually send out a print – and this is something that a LOT of people dont factor in when they are thinking of a print price. Usually, people get really excited about getting a print out that they never really consider all of these other incidentals that totally add to the bottom line. In seeing a complete picture you can get a much more sober view on the pricing.
Again… this is all subject to opinion and im sure that others may have their own spin on doing this. I have been a big disciple of Moose Peterson on how to go about this – adding little bits and pieces to it as I thought it could have to make it a little more suited for me. (Moose has got this down to an art form). That said – I hope it sheds some light into how much care you need to take with your work – way past the File>Print stage.