The 6 Best Printers for Art Prints in 2020

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Table of Contents

What is the Best Printer for Art Prints?

Trying to select the best printer for art prints can be a little confusing. 

How much resolution do you need? 

How many colors should the printer use? 

Not only what brand is best, but which product line and which model?

Best Printer for Printing Your Art at Home

I have spent a lot of time going through various buyers guides for art printers on the internet, only to realize that they don’t really offer much help.

So many of the articles you might run across describe a printer’s superb print quality, but in reality the prints it makes would never be good enough for most artists, and they often fade away after a surprisingly short time (the prints, not the artists!).

Along those lines, these guides often talk about Archival, Giclee or Fine Art prints without really understanding what these terms mean, and recommend printers or products that aren’t really at those levels.

To complicate things further, many buyers guides and product reviews are full of older, discontinued printers.

After wading through lots and lots of these confusing and misinformed web pages, I decided it would be a great idea to offer fellow artists a little guidance, and so here is my simple buyers guide for the 6 best printers for artists – all of which are current models and available in 2020.

From Affordable to Professional Printers

I will list these printers in increasing order of price, starting with basic models which may meet your needs and are extremely affordable, and going all the way up to real professional printers you can actually buy and use in your home – and believe me, these top-end printers will offer actual Archival, Giclee and Fine Art printing, as well as superb resolution, flexibility, speed and dependability.

The Best Printer for Artist Prints

Along the way, we will try to answer some basic questions:

  • How much does a good printer for art prints cost?
  • What is the best printer for printing onto canvas
  • What is the cheapest printer for Gilcee printing?
  • What is the cheapest printer for archival printing?
  • What printer should I use to make the best quality art prints?

And, most importantly:

  • What is the best printer for me?

Comparison Chart:
Top 6 Best Printers for Art Prints in 2020

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Editor's rating Image Printer Price
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY

Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer

GREAT VALUE

epson

ENTRY LEVEL PROFESSIONAL

THE ALL-ROUNDER

☆ MY PERSONAL FAVORITE

THE PROFESSIONAL

What Features and Qualities Should I Look For?

If you are planning on selling your art online, hanging your work in a gallery or even just assembling a professional portfolio, you will need a printer which offers some basic features and qualities, including:

  • really high resolution
  • the ability to print on larger paper and on a wide variety of stock and materials (such as canvas)
  • and the availability of pigment-based, or at least longer lasting inks

All of the products I’ve included in this guide about the best printers for art prints offer these features to some degree, and all are compatible with Apple and PC computers as well as mobiles. 

And while even the least expensive printer here costs a little more than some other entry-level models, the printers on our buyers guide are specifically selected for you and your special needs, and anything on this list will be well worth the money.

After the list, I will explain a few basic concepts, like archival and giclee printing, and make a few suggestions for superb art printer paper, before offering my Final Word.

Best printer for money

$ 340*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

We start this art printer buyer’s guide with a surprisingly inexpensive Canon printer, the IP8720.

This little print can make large borderless prints – up to 13×19 inches, using the special document feed tray on the back. 

This feature also allows a wide range of card stock and other papers and media to be printed on – even canvas – and customers report that this works very well.

A six color system allows for fairly accurate color representation, with a gray ink module for enhanced black and white and grayscale prints as well, and using the right paper the prints can last for up to 300 years. 

While I can’t confirm that, I will say that the resolution from the Canon FINE print nozzle, along with the six color wells, does create beautiful images –maybe not good enough for fine art prints, but enough to really pop in a portfolio or accurately represent an original work in your archive files

High speed USB, AirPrint, PIXMA, PictBridge, Google Cloud and WiFi allow for a whole range of wireless and wired connectivity, and the Canon IP8720 is exceptionally easy to use. 

A fine choice for a beginner’s art printer, or as a backup and companion to a more serious printer.

  • Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE)
  • 6 Color Individual Ink Tank System
  • Borderless prints up to 13x9 inches
  • Printing speed: up to 14.5 IPM (images per minute) B&W / 10.4 IPM Color
  • Resolution: 9600 x 2400 DPI (dots per inch) color

Pros

  • Great print quality for the money
  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with everything
  • Intuitive color management
  • Low price and low running costs

Cons

  • Build quality not as good as higher-end printers
  • Color balance not perfect (tends to be a little warm)

GREAT value printer

$ 433.64*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

The next printer on our survey of best art printers is a very affordable Epson model, the Expression Photo HD XP-15000. 

This is a wide format printer, capable of making beautiful border-less prints up to 13 by 19 inches. 

The Claria HD ink comes in six colors, for fine color gradation and enhanced black and white prints as well. While Epson does not directly claim the ink to be archival, they do say it can last up to 300 years in the right conditions.

This is a great basic printer for printing onto canvas, with its manual back tray which can accommodate many different types of material and even fairly heavy card stock, and it can print borderless from 4×6 to 13×19 inches.

This Epson printer does not offer the exceptionally high quality of printing of some other, more expensive printers, but to get 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution and six colors for this price is quite impressive – and it is fast, quiet and fairly small considering its maximum print size, making it ideal for desktop use.

Compared to the Canon above, the Epson will offer perhaps slightly more accurate color balance. 

It does not have quite as high resolution, but still is capable of fine HD prints. 

This Epson Expressions printer is faster and quieter, and customers report that it is quite easy and intuitive to use. 

Some also report that the build quality is slightly better, but in this price range there won’t be a major difference.

  • 6 color Claria photo HD ink
  • Large format rear media tray & 200 sheet front tray
  • Borderless prints up to 13x9 inches
  • Printing speed: up to 9.2 PPM (pages per minute) B&W / 9 PPM in color
  • Resolution: 5760 x 1440 DPI (dots per inch) color
  • 2.4 inch color LCD display

Pros

  • Excellent print quality and color accuracy for the money
  • Easy and versatile rear document feed
  • Fast printing
  • Quiet, Small and Easy to Use
  • Well built for the money
  • Great compatibility and connectivity

Cons

  • Lower resolution

ENTRY PROFESSIONAL printer

$ 629.99*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

The lowest priced printer on our list with a full array of 8 printer inks, the Canon Pixma Pro-100 offers a significant value, with noticeably improved color fidelity, shading and transitions between colors and hues, and depth and realism in color images.

The Pro100 is called a Wireless Color Professional Inkjet Printer, and certainly wireless connections are completely hassle-free and reliable – especially AirPrint. 

And it could certainly be considered a professional printer, with really beautiful prints, flexible media options and consistent and reliable performance. 

And with the ChromaLife100 ink system, Canon claims essentially archival print quality, with prints lasting up to 300 years!

But what really strikes me about this printer is just how nice the prints look. Colors really pop, and feel natural and accurate even at their most vivid. 

There is a sense of space, balance and flow in composition which somehow less expensive printers don’t always get, and the detail seems much finer and more complete than the specifications may suggest.

The Canon Pixma Pro100 printer is only a small step up in cost from the two previous entries on our list of best printers for artists, but the difference in print quality can be striking, and with the Pixma I feel as if my original work is really there in front of me.

  • Optimum Image Generating System
  • Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE)
  • Ambient Light Correction
  • 8-ink dye based ChromaLife100+ system
  • Borderless prints up to 13x19 inches
  • Printing speed: Not Rated but fast – an A4 took only about 5 seconds)
  • Resolution: 4800 x 2400 DPI (dots per inch) color

Pros

  • Superb Colors
  • Depth and Detail
  • Incredible Neutral Black and White Prints
  • High Quality Look and Feel
  • Great Value
  • Significant Step Up in Quality from Entry-Level Printers

Cons

  • None

THE ALL-ROUNDER printer

$ 449.99*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

This printer is a bit of an odd man out. 

While all of the other choices on our list focus on print quality, and could be considered as offering the very best prints in their price range, the Epson EcoTank ET-4760 is an all-in-one printer, offering good print quality and a whole lot more.

I have a friend – a professional artist – who has this printer, and she is absolutely thrilled with it. 

She calls it her little office manager, and uses it pretty much every day. 

She does not use it for fine art printing, or for her professional portfolio, but still uses the decent printer all the time – for quick copies of sketchpad images, for collage work, for cataloging and sometimes just to see an image on paper to get different perspective.

She also uses her Epson ET4760 to print invoices, announcements and correspondence, as well as internal paper records for her art business.

And while the scanner is not comparable to a fine art scanner (see our article on the best fine art scanners HERE), it is also super-handy for quick scans of paper sketches, to photocopy receipts and other documents, to make rough digitized images from books or other paper prints and lots more.

The Epson EcoTank ET-4760 also has fax capabilities, can autofeed paper for printing, scanning, copying and faxing (all one or two sided), and has the EcoTank ink system for amazingly low printing costs.

So, this Epson printer is not the very best printer for artists who want the finest print quality, and it is not the very best scanner for artists who want superb digitized images, but as a secondary printer for the busy artist (especially one who is also trying to sell art and run a business) this will be one of the most useful tools you may ever get – and the color prints really don’t look half bad!

  • 4 color EcoTank ink system
  • 250 page paper tray
  • Maximum document size: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Printing speed: up to 15 PPM (pages per minute)
  • Resolution: 4800 x 1200 DPI (dots per inch) Optimized using Printer Core technology
  • 2.4" color Touchscreen

Pros

  • Excellent print quality for a 4-color printer
  • Lots of features
  • Inexpensive considering its usefulness
  • Easy to use Fast printing
  • Very cheap to run

Cons

  • Not good enough print quality for art prints
  • Scanner is adequate for most jobs, but will not replace a good art scanner​

PERSONAL FAVORITE printer

$ 1,499.99*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

Of all the printers on our roundup of the best choices for art prints, this may well be my personal favorite. 

One of the finest desktop printers you can buy, and a great choice for even the most discerning artist, the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 inkjet printer offers printed images with the next level of resolution, color accuracy, energy and depth.

If you think all desktop printers are the same, you should see what the R2800 can do.

Its 8 color pigment ink set means that – given the right original image and printing paper – Giclee and true archival printing are possible. 

This is, in fact, the first item on our list of best art print printers which can offer an output which you can proudly, and without any reservations, sell as true fine art prints.

Several different advanced technologies – including UltraChrome K3TM inks with Vivid Magenta, Radiance technology, three-level black technology, Automatic Nozzle Check technologyand Epson PreciseColor – come together to offer unprecedented color fidelity for a desktop printer, smooth transitions between colors, shades and grays, far better reds than have been possible in the past, and consistent, reliable results.

The Epson R-2880 allows for roll-fed media, making it a great printer for printing onto canvas or other materials. It also allows for thick card stock, as well as glossy, luster and flat photo stock and fine archival cotton up to 13 inches wide.

Many artists will find a less expensive printer completely satisfactory for most of what they want to do, but the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 – which admittedly is a bit of a price jump – offers a distinct and dramatic increase in quality. 

It might be considered an entry-level model for Fine-Art printing, and a perfect entree into the world of professional production – and, with all of that, is actually an incredible value!

  • 8 color pigment ink system
  • Large format rear media tray & 200 sheet front tray
  • Borderless prints up to 13x9 inches
  • Printing speed: up to 9 PPM (pages per minute) B&W or Color
  • Resolution: 5760 x 1440 DPI (dots per inch) Optimized using Resolution Performance Management (RPM) Technology

Pros

  • Exhibition Quality Printing
  • Great Resolution, Detail and Depth
  • Superb Color Accuracy and Subtlety
  • Superior Black and White and Grayscale Printing
  • True Archival and Giclee Printing
  • Low Print Costs – especially for an 8 color printer
  • Easy to Set Up and Use

Cons

  • None at this price

PROFESSIONAL printer

$ 2,294*

*This was the price, at the time of publishing

At this point in our survey of the very best printers for artists we are getting into more rarefied territory. 

Most people would never consider spending this much money on a printer (although in truth it is quite inexpensive for a professional printer), but for larger formats and true fine art prints, this Canon PRO-2000 24in Printer is pretty much entry-level.

No matter how good prints look on low and medium priced art printers, when you get to this level the difference in quality is truly amazing. 

This remarkable printer produces truly spectacular prints that are a joy to behold. In fact, with its incredible detail, depth and accuracy of registration, color fidelity and subtlety, this is actually the first printer on our list of the 6 best printers for art prints which I feel fully represents my original work and vision.

The Canon Pro-2000 printer 11 color system with Chroma optimizer provides astonishing color accuracy, and its resolution will capture any original work with breathtaking fidelity, depth, clarity and energy. 

The specifications may not seem that impressive – sometimes not even as good as desktop printers! – but at this level this is misleading: the quality and precision of the bubblejet head, the print algorithms, color management and precision alignment, the ink quality and many other factors make this a dramatically better printer, which produces superb prints suitable even for gallery and museum display.

The Pro2000 will accept up to 24 inch wide stock, including an ultra-wide variety of media types, with no practical limit on length – customers report regularly printing images over 5 feet long. 

Borderless printing is also possible, with absolutely no shift or change in print quality from edge to edge.

Given the 12 color true pigment system and the ability to use dye-based inks, the high resolution and the wide range of stock you can print on, you can produce true archival fine art images with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000, including true Giclee prints. 

Perfect alignment and accurate registration is possible, and printing onto canvas, vinyl and other materials is easy and yields truly professional results.

If you are a serious artist who needs the best quality printing, for gallery showings, to sell to customers or for a truly representational portfolio, the Canon PRO-2000 24 inch professional ink-jet color printer offers astounding quality and an astounding value.

  • 12 color Pigment ink
  • USB Direct Print
  • Resolution: 2,400 x 1,200 DPI (dots per inch)
  • 18,432 nozzles (1536 nozzles x 12 colors)
  • +/- .1% (or less) Line Accuracy
  • Ink Capacity: Up To 700ml / Color
  • 320 GB Hard Drive
  • 2 Roll Feeds & 1 Cut Sheet Feed
  • 3.5” colour LCD touch panel

Pros

  • Superb Color Fidelity, Gradations and Shading
  • Superb Black and White Printing
  • Total Flexibility of Media Types and Sizes
  • True Archival / Giclee Printing
  • Professional Build / Highly Durable
  • Absolute Consistency

Cons

  • Big, Heavy Printer not suitable for all environments
  • High Printing Costs (though not considering quality)
  • More Difficult to Set Up and Use​

How Do You Make High Quality Art Prints?

Online courses

Improve your art skills and learn how to make money as an artist. Check out my courses about Making Money as an Artist, Color & Light, Color Palettes, GIFs, Posters and more!

Audience: 

This buyers guide should be useful in finding the best printer for traditional artists, the best printer for commercial artists, the best printer for digital artists or even the very best printer for photographers, since so many of the same qualities are important to all of these people – especially resolution, color fidelity, gradation and shading, ease of use, value for the money, low running costs and reliability.

Brands: 

You will notice that there are only two brands represented in this list – Canon and Epson.

While many manufacturers make printers – like HP (Hewlett Packard), Lexmark, Brother, Zebra, Samsung, Konica Minolta and Ricoh – Canon and Epson offer special qualities and value that other companies don’t seem to quite get to.

This may be because Epson is probably the oldest PC printer company in the world, and Canon has tons of experience making the very best photographic equipment and working with the very best photographers.

Whatever the reasons, Canon and Epson regularly rate the highest in customer satisfaction, offer the best features and user interfaces, are better built and more reliable than most, and simply provide the finest prints available for the money. 

And they both seem to have insight into what artists in particular want and need.

Archival Printing: 

Archival printing is quite simply printing that will maintain its quality for a long time, and is thus capable of providing a reliable archive of whatever artwork, text or other image it displays.

While conditions – especially light, heat and humidity – can cause a printed image to fade, colors to shift, paper to disintegrate or other issues to arise, archival printing and storage prevents these problems and offers as close as possible to a permanent record.

Giclee Printing is related to Archival Printing, but also takes into consideration the quality of the print itself – in particular the quality of the colors. 

There are scads of conflicting descriptions of what Giclee actually is, and especially what it requires, so I will include here what I consider to be the basic requirements for Archival and Giclee Printing.

Archival:

  • Pigment Based Inks
  • Archival Quality Paper – especially cotton rag – must be acid- and lignin-free
  • Correct Storage Conditions – archival sleeves and cabinets, atmospherically controlled storage room

Giclee:

  • Pigment Based Inks
  • Archival Quality Paper – especially cotton rag – must be acid- and lignin-free
  • A Printer with at least an 8 Color System – preferably a wide-format printer
  • A High Resolution Original Image – at least 300 DPI

Here are 3 Archival Quality Papers I Love Using

Conclusion - Best Printer for Artists

It seems that there are thousands of different printers out there, and almost all of them will print a decent quality color image.

As an artist, though, I understand what it feels like to have a connection with your work, and how dissatisfying it can be when a printer doesn’t really do justice to the original image you’ve created.

This list of the 6 best printers for artists offers what I feel is the very best choice in several different price points. 

If you have a clear idea of what your budget is you can select a printer from this list with total confidence, knowing that for that money you will get prints that really capture and represent your vision, and a printer that will become an integral part of your creative process.

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