This article was originally supposed to be about finding the very best sticker maker, or in technical terms computer-controlled cutting machine, on the market today, and more specifically which cutting machine is the best for making art and vinyl stickers.
But as my research and testing progressed, two things became very clear: The best sticker maker, without a doubt, is the remarkable Cricut.
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Table of Contents
The Best Sticker Maker – The Remarkable Cricut
The Cricut cutting machines are perfect for making stickers, but they do about a gazillion other things fabulously as well!
In fact, I also came to a couple of other conclusions right away: that a good computer controlled cutting machine – especially a Cricut – is one of the best and most useful tools any artist or crafter can ever buy, and that few other tools I could possibly think of are not only as useful as the Cricut but also so creatively inspiring.
And so, while I am still going to focus on making stickers, I can see a few other questions which should be addressed, so we will try to answer the following (and more, I hope!):
- What is the Best Sticker Maker Machine, a.k.a Computer-Controlled Cutting Machine?
- What is the Best Cricut Sticker Maker Machine?
- Which Cricut Sticker Maker Machine Should I Buy?
- Which is Better: The Cricut Maker or the Cricut Explore Air 2?
- What do Computer-Controlled Cutting Machines Do?
- What is the Best Sticker Maker Machine?
- How Can I Make Stickers at Home?
- What is the Best Printer for Stickers?
- What is the Best Sticker Paper for a Sticker Printer?
What is a Sticker Maker Machine?
It is, basically, just what it sounds like.
The Cricut machines, and machines from Brother, Silhouette and others, connect to your computer or phone, with a cable or via Bluetooth.
They come with software which allows you to create designs, and then the cutting, sticker maker machine cuts that design out of paper, fabric, card stock, vinyl, pre-printed stickers or other materials.
What are Computer-Controlled Cutting Machines Used For?
Well, as I said, about a gazillion things.
I keep coming up with new ideas, and the Cricut cutting, sticker maker machines I’ve been trying out always seems to help me realize those ideas.
Lots of the things you can do with a Cricut sticker maker machine can be real money-makers, like clothing, bags and hats, cloth flowers, patches, decals and lots of other advanced craft projects. You can also very easily make models and mock-ups for larger projects, games and craft projects for kids, home decorations, and so on, and so on!
And again, one very basic idea is to make stickers of your artwork, or of other designs, to sell online or to give as presents to clients, customers, friends and family. With the right sticker printer and sticker paper (see below), these can turn out absolutely beautifully, and everybody seems to love them.
But really, there are seemingly countless uses for a good computer-controlled cutting, sticker maker machine. Some basic uses include:
- Sewing patterns
- Modeling Patterns
- Making Stickers
- Fabric Shapes
- Paper Patterns for Crafts
- Light Wood
- Scoring and Perforating
- Home Decorations
- Paper Flowers
- Beautiful Lamp Shades
Are Sticker Makers a.k.a Computer Controlled Cutting Machines Difficult to Use?
This is one thing I see a lot on other blogs and review sites, that one of the main drawbacks of using a Cricut cutting, sticker maker machine is that they are somehow difficult to use – more specifically, that their software is difficult to use.
From my experience, the whole process with a Cricut cutting, sticker maker machine is actually quite simple and easy to use. In fact, if you’ve used any kind of art, drawing, design or layout software (or pretty much any normal software), the Cricut Design Space software is a snap.
And what makes it even easier for some people is that you can do your designing in many other software programs and then import that design into Design Space – in fact, this can not only make it easier, but allow you to do even more with designs.
Finally, the physical machines are extremely well designed and quite easy to use and get the hang of – and they come with a cool sample project with excellent detailed instructions, to help you learn what you’re doing and get familiar with the software and hardware.
Are Cricut Cutting, Sticker Maker Machines Expensive?
Here’s another oft-made claim on other sites which I don’t quite understand, that the Cricut is quite an expensive machine.
We’re really focusing on two Cricut machines here:
The Explore Air 2 is a little more than 380 dollars, and the Cricut Maker a little over 400 dollars (and, of course, my Amazon links may well lead to discount prices).
Considering the high quality of these machines, the countless things you can do with one, how it can inspire you and how it can even make you money, I think they are an absolute steal!
What do I Need to Make Stickers on a Cricut Cutting Machine?
Ok, so back to my original intention for this article.
It is really easy to use and make stickers from your artwork, and these beautiful stickers can be sold or given away. Even as a lagniappe for good clients, or as a bonus for an order, they can help you make more money, but they also can sell quite well.
You can also do this with other artwork, like older classic pieces from the great masters, but you have to be very careful that the images you are using are public domain – that is, they are free to use without permission or royalties.
The ideas is simple – you print your art onto good sticker paper stock, then design the frames or shapes which you want your stickers to be in and run the sticker paper through the Cricut. Once you have it set up, you can make hundreds quite quickly. You can also design in words or any other elements, or you can leave them as simple, beautiful art pieces.
Of course, you can also design other types stickers, with graphics or line drawings, cartoons, funny or inspirational sayings, jokes, whatever you want. Again, though, especially if you’re selling these, just make sure all the material you use is either original or public domain.
Basically you’ll need the following things to make this work:
- A Cricut Cutting Machine
- A Printer
- Label Paper
- A Computer (Windows or Macintosh) or Smartphone (Apple or Android)
- Cricut Design Space Software (free!)
You may also want to (but don’t need to) use a different art or design software program, which you probably already have and are familiar with.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you should have the right sticker paper and a printer that is good for printing on sticker stock and that can also do a good job with your art.
🖨 What Sticker Printer is the Best for Printing Stickers?
Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering (FINE)
6 Color Individual Ink Tank System
Borderless prints up to 13x19 inches
Model in the UK / Germany - IP8750
Airprint and Mobile Device Printing
Ambient Light Correction
8-ink dye based ChromaLife100+ system
Borderless prints up to 13x19 inches
Model in the UK / Germany - Pro-100S
Again, for making stickers with the Cricut cutting machine, all you need to do is print the artwork or designs onto good sticker paper (vinyl), and then run the stickers through the Cricut to cut out the sticker shapes you’ve chosen, so you do need a printer for stickers that is up to the task.
To do sticker printing well, your printer will need to have a few basic things:
- High Resolution
- Excellent Color Reproduction
- A Straight-Through Manual Paper Feed Tray
- The Ability to Run Thicker Stock (Vinyl stickers)
If you are happy with the way your current printer prints onto various kinds of paper and stock, especially when it’s printing high resolution copies of artwork, and if it has a rear feed tray, you are probably good to go.
But if your printer doesn’t really make your artwork pop, it doesn’t have a rear-loading straight-through manual feed tray, or it’s time for a new printer anyway, I have three good recommendations. These three art printers, in three different price categories, print artwork beautifully, will do pretty much everything else well, and are all well suited to this particular project.
Of course, as you go up in price, you will get better colors and resolution and very noticeable improvement in the overall look of your art prints, and while I’m sensitive to budget concerns (believe me!) I think every artist should have the very best printer they can afford – it’s better for you and your art, as well as for your clients and prospective clients, your business and your income.
That said, even the least expensive best printer here does a great job for the money, and don’t worry if your budget cannot handle more! Indeed, each of these printers for stickers is the best I know for its price range:
Surprisingly good printing quality for an entry-level printer, and a great all-around budget printer for stickers, but not quite to the fine art print level:
- Canon Pixma Pro-100 Wireless Color Inkjet Printer
- Canon Pixma Pro-200 Professional Color Printer (replaces Pro-100)
Superb prints from a rugged, reliable and affordable professional-level printer for stickers:
Incredible colors and vivid prints from the most affordable printer in the legendary ProGraf professional printer line – truly the next level!
The following article goes into even more details about printers for stickers and sticker printing:
What Kind of Sticker Paper is Best for a Cricut Cutting Machine?
Waterproof, Tearproof, Full Page Inkjet Sticker Paper
Matte White Finish
Waterproof, Tearproof, Full Page Inkjet Sticker Paper
Glossy White Finish
The next thing you will need is the proper sticker paper, and what we really need to ask is: What Kind of Sticker Paper is Best for Printing on Dot Matrix Printers?
You don’t want to get labels, since they are already cut to a specific size. Instead you want full-page sticker paper, and the best quality you can afford. Better sticker paper will make your art or designs look better, and it is won’t ever jam the printer or your beautiful new Cricut!
And since the Cricut computer-controlled cutting machines can handle up to 12 inch width you are best off using standard letter size (8.5 x 11 inches).
Here are a couple of great sticker papers for this or any art or craft job:
- Aiva Glossy White Full Sheet 8.5″ x 11″ Waterproof Adhesive Sticker Paper – 50 Sheets
- Aiva Matte White Full Sheet 8.5″ x 11″ Waterproof Adhesive Sticker Paper – 50 Sheets
Which Cricut Sticker Maker Should I Buy – The Cricut Maker or the Cricut Explore Air 2?
Oh, yeah, if you want to print and cut beautiful art stickers on your new Cricut computer-controlled cutting machine you are going to need one more thing: a new Cricut computer-controlled cutting machine!
And the two most popular and best reviewed Cricut cutting machines (and maybe the two best cutting machines on the market today) are the top of the line Cricut Maker and the less expensive, newly redesigned Cricut Explore Air 2.
So we should investigate which is Better: The Cricut Maker or the Cricut Explore Air 2?
Well, if we put the question like that, the answer is obvious – the amazing Cricut Maker. Some of the capabilities of the Maker, which are not possible with the Explore Air 2, include:
- The ability to cut thicker and heavier material, including even leather and light wood
- The Cricut Maker has 10 times the cutting force of any other Cricut machine
- The ability to accurately cut much lighter material, including crepe paper
- The amazing adaptive tool technology allows for much lighter work
- Support for more tools, including the Rotary Cutter (included), the stronger Knife Blade and the Quick Swap tools for scoring, engraving, embossing and perforating
- Both Cricut cutting machines do support a huge number of tools, though, including the Deep Point Blade, the Bonded Fabric Blade and the Cricut Pens
- Finer, more accurate cutting and detailing
Don’t get me wrong – in the matter of the Cricut Maker versus the Cricut Explore Air 2 they are both great machines, and open up a whole new world of possibilities. They are also both extremely well made, reliable, and beautifully and thoughtfully designed.
Some people even prefer the Explore Air 2 for its ability to use cartridges (which plug in to the machine and make it cut certain preset patterns or shapes) and its Smart Dial, where you can specify the type of material you are using.
Personally, I would rather specify these things through the software, as you do with the Cricut Maker. This may not really be true, but it seems simpler and more consistent that way, and like I’m more in control of the work and the outcome.
So overall, for still not a lot of money, I would rather have the newer, stronger, more advanced and more versatile Cricut Maker, with more options, more choices of materials and more precision cutting.
But either way you go – the Cricut Explore Air 2 or the Cricut Maker – you will have a great and incredibly useful art and craft tool, an extremely high quality product and potentially a real money maker.
Final Thoughts: Do I Really Need a Cricut Sticker Maker?
Well, I guess I would have to say no, nobody needs a computer controlled cutting machine. After all, we are artists, aren’t we? All we really need is a pencil and paper and we will make art. I don’t even really need (gulp) my MacBook or iPad!
But the best artists tools are, seen another way, absolutely essential. The best tools serve our art and help us produce it. They allow us to create in ways we wouldn’t otherwise be able to. They push us forward, allow us to do the best we possibly can, and never keep us from realizing our vision.
This is why I always recommend that any artist – whether a fine artist, a commercial artist or an aspiring beginner – get the best tools they can afford (within reason, of course) and that they are always on the lookout for new creative tools that can not only support our work, but really spark our creativity, suggest new ideas and allow for new ways of expression.
The Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air 2 do all of those things and more, and I can highly recommend either of them, or any Cricut cutting machine, to any artist or crafter.
Thanks so much for reading my latest article – The Best Sticker Maker 2021 – An In-Depth Review – and please check my blog – Art Side of Life – for more buyer’s guides, articles, online courses and many other resources – the perfect site for any artist!
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