Save Money by DIY-ing Your Own Art Prints

I could easily spend $100s on decorating my house.

My Pinterest boards are overflowing with gallery walls featuring gorgeous typography prints and photos, and from a cursory glance at some of the Etsy shops behind them, it would be no problem for me to drop over $100 solely on prints to put up on my walls.

The dream.

The dream.

But here’s the thing.

I’ve been reading so many great posts about being self-sufficient, that I started to wonder. Maybe I could actually make my own prints and save some money, while still getting fancy art to hang on my walls?

Now, a short disclaimer: I’m no designer. I like to think I’m crafty enough, and I know what I like, but my ability to actually create it has rarely been put to the test. This entire experiment, should you choose to replicate it, is pretty beginner friendly.

Here are the six somewhat-replicable steps I took to finally take a stab at making my own “art.”

Step 1. Convince yourself you can totally do this.

Look at a lot of Etsy stores and Pinterest boards. Like, a lot of them. Acknowledge how much you like simple prints with inspiring quotations, and convince yourself they’d be easy to make yourself.

Spend about 45 more minutes on this than you need to, because you fell into a Pinterest hole and you can’t get back out just yet.

Step 2. Fall in love with a font.

You so don’t  have to be a designer to know what you like. My favourite place to look for fonts is Creative Market, which is where I got the Bonjour font a while ago, with the express intention of using it to make fun prints to display at home.

That said, it took me literally months to actually get off my butt and do it. One of the big pushes I needed was…

Step 3. Fall in love with a quotation.

Someone tweeted this quotation from Roald Dahl a few weeks back, and it hit me so hard. I couldn’t believe I had never heard it before, because it so clearly sums up one of my core beliefs about life.

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.

This is exactly how I live my life – I jump in with both feet, and I am entirely unashamed of how enthusiastic I can be about things, personal finance very much included. If you need any more proof of how quickly I can go from 0 to unbelievably stoked about something, just check out how long it took me to decide that cutting my own hair was the best thing I could do on a Monday night.

Long story short, when a quotation hits you that hard, it’s easy to get excited about making a print of it to put on your wall.

Step 4. Play around with Photoshop until you like what you see.

Now that I had the font and the quotation I wanted, I took to Photoshop. Again, I want to reinforce that I am not a designer by trade or training, but I’ve been exposed to Photoshop enough that I can do the basics – in this case, add in text and format it.

First things first though – set yourself up to win by choosing a document size in inches. I chose 8” by 10”, because I know I can find reasonably priced frames to fit that dimension.

This is Photoshop, and it is so not as intimidating as it looks.

This is Photoshop, and it is so not as intimidating as it looks.

I’m also lucky enough that my team at work has a license for Adobe’s Creative Suite, so the monthly licensing fee is covered. If you want to try your hand at it, you can get a free 30-day trial. Alternatively, you can also use a free image editing software – I’ve heard good things about Gimp!

Either way, this step is really friendly to non-designers, because it’s much more editing-friendly than trying to hand-draw the same thing. Once you have your text in the image, you can move it around and transform it as much as you want until you’re happy with the end result.

Step 5. Export it as a print-ready PDF.

This one was a pro tip I learned from close proximity to designers in my day job. If you’re going to send a digital file to get printed, you should save it in a print-friendly file type. Luckily, if you’re using Photoshop, this is pretty easy. Just go File > Save As and choose “Photoshop PDF” as your file type.

Step 6. Send it to a local print shop.

Lastly, because I wanted to pretend this was a fancy-pants art print, not a somewhat-wine-fuelled adventure in frugality, I sent the file to a local print shop down the street instead of printing it on regular paper at the office.

If my boss is reading this, of course I would never use the work printer for personal items.

Obviously.

Back to the local print shop though! We’ve had photos printed there, and when I called them up to ask about printing this file on cardstock, they were fantastic.

I ended up getting 10 prints made, for a total cost of $11.30. That works out to a cool $1.13 for the print I’m going to keep, and I threw the other 9 up on Etsy as a bit of an experiment. (I’ve also got the digital file up there, in case anyone wants to download it and print it themselves!)

Voila! Instead of spending $10-$20 on a single print to decorate the walls of my house or my cubicle, a little time working in Photoshop got me a print for $1.13, hours of fun setting up an Etsy store and in the very worst case, 9 prints that I can pawn off on friends as gifts in the future.

And I have to say, they turned out exactly the way I wanted, which is a huge perk of DIY art.

Unabashed enthusiast over here. Not at all ashamed of how excited I am these turned out well!

Unabashed enthusiast over here. Not at all ashamed of how excited I am these turned out well!

Would you ever make your own prints or art? Have you had success DIY-ing your decorations? I don’t want to end up with a wall of text (although I do love words, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world) so I’d love to hear what other DIY art ideas you’ve seen or done yourself!