The Pros And Cons Of Printables - Should You Buy Wall Art As A Printable PDF?
Print or printable? Often you can buy a print or a printable of the same personalised print or the same piece of wall art.
The question is, which should you buy?
As with everything, there are pros and there are cons with printable wall art. And it's as well to know what they are before you choose. Printable wall art typically arrives as a PDF file that you can print yourself. If you want another file format (some people prefer JPGs, for example) you'll need to ask the seller if they can do this for you.
Here's a quick rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of buying printables...
Low Initial Cost! - printables cost less than their print equivalents for several reasons. They are very cheap to deliver (usually free, over the internet). There are no additional production or packaging costs for whoever is selling the printable. There are time savings for the seller (they don't have to arrange for a physical print to be made, they don't have to package it, they don't have to run down to the Post Office to pop anything in the post).
Extremely Reliable Delivery - a printable can't get lost in the post, it can't get damaged in transit, it can't get dropped in a puddle by the postman. If the printable file is corrupted (I've never known this to happen but I guess it's possible), you can ask the seller to resend it.
Speed Of Delivery - delivery of physical prints just can't compete with the incredible speed at which PDF printables can be delivered. When we create a personalised crossword printable, it can be in the buyer's inbox within minutes of the design being finished. So, if you order a printable, there's considerably less wait time before you receive your wall art.
Make Your Own Adjustments- if you know what you're doing and you have the right software, you can make your own adjustments to printable art before you print it. You can add some text, change the contrast, even change the colours. It's not easy to do any of these things with a physical print!
Print As Many Copies As You Need- once you have a printable file, you can make many physical prints. You could make one print for home and one for the office. We imagine that buyers of our personalised family names crosswords sometimes make prints for family members whose name appears on the crossword. You may also be able to print at different sizes, though beware of a reduction in quality of you try to print at too big a size.
Print On Different Materials - sometimes the seller may not offer the artwork on the medium you're after. If you have the printable file, you can get it printed on canvas or metal or acrylic or a T-shirt, even if these kind of prints aren't offered by the seller. If you do this, it's worth letting the seller know so they can consider offering different print mediums themselves.
Protection Against Damage - if the original print you made gets damaged or lost, you can make perfect copy of it as long as you have a copy of the printable file.
Cons Of Printables
You Need To Print It! - sounds obvious! Once you've received your printable file, it's up to you to find the time to arrange printing. Your job isn't finished once you've clicked the 'buy' button! We're sure there are people who buy printables but never get round to printing them, which means they can never properly enjoy the artworks, and that's a shame.
You Still Have To Pay More For It! - yes, the PDF printable file is initially a lower cost than the physical print equivalent. But some of that cost difference is because you haven't finished paying for it yet!You still need to pay for the physical print to be made, whether that's your own paper and printer ink or those of a local or online printer.
You Lose The Seller's Preferred Medium - the artwork seller has almost certainly researched how their artwork is best presented but if you buy a printable, you need to make this decision. Matte paper? Glossy paper? Satin paper? Textured paper? Canvas? There's an enormous choice! Most of our personalised prints look best on matte paper so that's what we recommend. You can always ask the seller what they suggest, of course!
Print Quality - artwork sellers print their own physical artworks or partner with printers they can trust, so they know that when you buy a physical print from them it'll be good quality. You don't get this level of quality assurance when you buy a printable file because it's up to you to choose how to print your printable.
You Need A Good Home Printer - In order to match the quality of a physical print sent by the seller, you'll need a good quality printer at home. And you'll need to make sure you have sufficient ink (artworks use a lot of ink compared to printing text) and high quality paper to print on. Cheap home printers are great for everyday use but for art their colour range, print quality and print longevity (the time it takes for the print colours to start fading) isn't as good as professional equipment. An alternative to a home printer is to use a local print shop or online photo printer.
You Still Need To Wait For Your Print! - even though delivery of the printable file is near instant, you still need to bear in mind the time it takes to make the physical print. If your printable is printed by a local print shop, you need to take the file to them and wait for them to print it. If you opt for an online printer, you need to wait for them to print it and ship it. If you're printing at home, you'll need to set up your printer and make sure you have good quality paper.
Technical Know How - making a high quality print from a printable file is not hard, but you do need some technical know-how to do it. If you buy a physical print, you don't need to know the ins and outs of how to make it look at its best.
You Need To Store Your Printable File Safely - if you're going to keep your printable file as an insurance against damage of your physical print, then you need to save it. So you'll need to remember where you've saved itin case if you ever need it again. This is a perpetual problem with saving any file (not just printables). How many times do you try and track down the file of an old photo but you can't quite remember where you saved it?
You Don't Get The Same Unpackaging Experience - with a physical print, there's the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive in the post and then the moment of unpacking itself, when you finally get to see your print. That moment is valuable! It has impact! With a printable, your first sight of the artwork is probably on a tiny mobile phone screen. It's just not the same as holding a lovely finished print in your hand.
Print Or Printable PDF?
The decision isn't as straightforward as it might first appear.
Printables offer an enormous amount of flexibility, but with that flexibility comes extra work (you need to do, or arrange, the printing yourself) and the possibility of a lower quality finished print.
There are some things you can do with printables that you just can't do with physical prints - make more than one copy, make adjustments to the artwork before you print it, print on different materials.
And if you're in a hurry, a printable offers the possibility of speed - but remember that though the delivery is incredibly quick, you'll still need to factor in the extra time and effort it takes to make a physical copy of the print.