Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Online Print Promotion Resources for Illustrators

© 2002 Don Arday.
When it comes to online printing, there are many choices on the web. The printing companies featured here were selected based on their effectiveness in producing quality promotional materials for illustrators. Companies whose specialty is producing fine gallery-quality artifact prints are not represented here, even though they also offer online printing services. Links to other helpful resources such as the USPS are provided though. This is most definitely an abridged list. There are new companies emerging every year that are producing high-quality printing and services that will serve illustrators well.

© 2002 Don Arday.
A word of caution. When preparing files for any of the services below you should carefully review their specifications. Use the resources each respective company provides, such as templates. There are subtle variances of size, file resolution, and even acceptable file formats between one provider and another. For example, one vendor’s postcard may be 4.25” x 6”, while another’s is 3.85” x 5.85”, and a third’s may be 4” x 6”. And one vendor may accept jpeg and tiff files, while another only accepts PDF files. To receive the highest quality print materials always follow a vendors directions.

USPS: The Final Word

© 2002 Don Arday.
Mailpieces are classified by shape and by the way they are prepared. These classifications are based on how efficiently mail pieces can be processed on Postal Service equipment. The Postal Service classifies letters and cards into one of three categories: machinable, nonmachinable, and automation. If you prepare your letters and cards so that they have an accurate address and can be processed on Postal Service equipment, your mail is “machinable” and eligible for “presort” prices. Machinable mailpieces must meet specific standards, including size, shape, and weight.


For postcards the minimum length is 5 inches, and the maximum is 6 inches. The minimum height is 3-1/2 inches, and the maximum is 4-1/4 inches. The minimum paper stock thickness is 0.007 inch, and the maximum is 0.016 inch.

For Letters and other cards the maximum is 11-1/2 inches long, 6-1/8 inches high, and 1/4 inch thick, rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides. Letter-size, card-type mailpieces made of cardstock may have finished rounded corners that do not exceed a radius of 1/8 inch.


If a postcard or envelope has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5 (a square envelope has an aspect ratio of 1, making it non-machinable). It is more than 4-1/4 inches high or more than 6 inches long and is less than 0.009 inch thick. It has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices. It is too rigid. It has a delivery address parallel to the shorter side of the mailpiece. It uses non-paper surfaces.


© 2014 Don Arday.
If your letter-size mailpiece is machinable and displays the correct delivery point barcode or Intelligent Mail bar-code, it may qualify for lower, “automation” prices. A letter or card meets automation standards and qualifies for automation prices if it meets the specific addressing, bar-coding, and design standards. Automated minimum dimensions are 3-1/2 inches high, 5 inches long, and either 0.007 inch thick. not more than 4-1/4 inches high and 6 inches long; or 0.009 inch thick if more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long, or both. The maximum dimensions for First-Class Mail card prices are 4-1/4 inches high, 6 inches long, and 0.016 inch thick. And the maximum for letters and other cards: 6-1/8 inches high, 11-1/2 inches long, and 1/4 inch thick.

The USPS Business Mail 101 link for postcards is:

The Quick Service Guide 201 for letters and postcards link is:

Online Paper Form Printing

Overnight Prints

To illustrators and graphic designers who demand perfection, Overnight Prints is an excellent resource for business cards, postcards, brochures, and other printed materials. Launched by founder Brett Heap in 2003, Overnight Prints has risen from a twenty-man operation set in an office to one of the largest online printing companies in the world. The secret is a simple formula; combine high quality products with eco-friendly practices; and make sure it's all delivered to you exactly when you need it...even if it's tomorrow.

Overnight Prints delivers top-notch printing quality while observing environmentally conscious practices. Waterless presses provide better image definition and a broader color spectrum when compared to standard offset presses. Further, it is a chemical-free process that requires less paper waste, so it is much better for the environment. All the paper used comes from trees harvested under the Sustainable Forest Initiative and is Green Seal™ Certified.

Overnight Prints also excels when it comes to delivery. You are guaranteed to receive your order when you are supposed to, if not sooner. With B.I.T.G.I.T. (Buy It Today, Get It Tomorrow), you can place your order by 8:00pm EST today and have it in your hands tomorrow. After all, "overnight" is in our name.

Product selection, pricing, delivery, ordering guides are available online through the link below. Overnight provides pre-designed templates or you can upload your own custom design using their software specific templates. A spot varnish can be added to the prints by uploading a separate template.

Images may be uploaded online for custom postcards by accessing the Overnight Uploader. File format, dimensions and file resolution requirements are all listed.

Very useful to customers, Overnight provides USPS postcard-mailing restrictions, which are available on the site through the link below.

Modern Postcard

Modern provides expert direct marketing services, direct mail, and printed promotions. All printing, mailing and shipping is managed in-house from a state-of-the-art 75,000 square foot facility located in Carlsbad, California.
Modern attempts to always exceed customer expectations by delivering the highest quality product with a fast turnaround time. Each customer receives true one-on-one service from a specialist committed to serving their needs and achieving their goals.

Modern has helped over 250,000 clients grow their businesses, making us an industry leader in high quality postcard printing and effective direct marketing solutions. Modern’s uncompromising dedication to quality is backed by its state-of-the-art equipment, and an experienced crew of press, color and mailing services professionals. They use Komori Lithrone  and Hewlett-Packard printing presses and state of the art binding, trimming, and finishing equipment.

If you need it, Modern can also serve as a distribution center for you by mailing your materials to your distribution list.

Product selection, pricing, delivery, ordering guides are available online through the link below including pre-designed templates. You can also download a software specific template to use as a guide to create and upload your own custom design.

Template guides for over 50 products are available for download for the link below. This allows you to prepare your images ahead of time.

The USPS postcard and folded self-mailer restrictions on Modern’s website are available on the through the link below.


As you become more familiar with Moo, you’ll lean about “Printfinity”. It's one of the things that make Moo different, a unique touch to help customers stand out from the crowd. Printfinity is a conversation starter, a promotional tool, and the ideal way to showcase your illustrations. Printfinity is Moo's option of printing a different image on every postcard, business card, etc. in the pack. It can be used to show off your portfolio, a collection of images, and more. Moo cards help people to remember you, and your business.

All the materials Moo uses are of first-class in quality, from the premium weight, museum quality surface card stocks themselves to the containers they come in. Moo “Classic” paper is crisp white paper in a choice of smooth matte laminate, or a high gloss coating. The paper is sourced from sustainable forests and is Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF). It's thicker than most business cards, at 16pt. Moo “Green” is white, un-flecked and without a laminate. It's made in a sustainable energy factory, is 100% recycled, and free of harmful chemicals At 16pt, this is the thickest 100% recycled paper we could find. Moo “Luxe” is their top-of-the-line paper stock. It's 32pt stock, surfaced with Mohawk's renowned Superfine paper. Luxe is a white, un-laminated paper, with a rich grain and luxurious feel. Produced using windpower in the same factory as our Moo Green. Moo delivers their printed products in special functional and aesthetically pleasing containers. Moo custom designs its packaging for re-use, resale and recycling.

If you'd like to try before you buy, order a sample pack. It's completely free! We'll send you a pre-printed sample of every product. Moo also offers an exclusive 20% discount for students.

Moo postcards are printed in full color, on both sides of the card. There is no extra charge for this. Each Postcard has the option to print a different image or design with Printfinity technology. Images are uploaded online for custom postcards by accessing Moo’s Design Your Own Widget. File format, dimensions and file resolution requirements are all provided.


UPrinting is a socially responsible online printing, marketing and technology firm. It serves thousands of on-demand customers online daily, using high-quality press printing and a simple and easy-to-use online ordering system to provide high-end printing services and reliable color printing at discount printing costs.

With its signature easy-to-use website interface, UPrinting has earned customer loyalty by offering more customizable offset printingdigital printing, and large format printing options than other online printers. The company is popular for its Free File Review, a complimentary proofing service that requires no upfront payment. UPrinting also offers support such as print design services and direct mailing to help the small business prosper.

UPrinting offers several card and paper stocks to choose from. You can get free samples of stocks used for offset and large format printing. The bound Offset Sample Kit and Large Format Sample Kit Get to see and feel the stock selection to aid your online ordering experience.

Online coupon codes are available for additional savings on their already competitive pricing.

Template guides for over 100+ products are available for download for the link below. This allows you to prepare your images ahead of time.

Got Print

Got Print, utilizes the most modern and innovative equipment and products in the printing industry including state-of-the-art Heidelberg Offset presses, producing the highest quality, finished products that are also environmentally conscious. As an entirely web-based company - yet one with a personal touch – Got Print focuses on assisting consumers with their promotional needs. Ordering online, with the help of friendly and knowledgeable customer service reps, has never been easier.

High standards, excellent customer service and high-quality products are there to assisting you with all your printing, design, and marketing needs. High quality full color offset printing on multiple premium paper options with UV Coating on both sides of 14pt Gloss Coated Cover stock is available with color both sides, unless no UV Coating on the back is desired.

Got Print offers the Advanced Design widget to format and design cards online or you can download templates to create your own design for later uploading.  More than two hundred templates are available for all kinds of printed forms including business cards, tent cards, hang tags, roll labels, post cards and even banners. Got Print also offers special “Stand Out” shaped business cards including circle, leaf, oval, half circle, and others.

Turn around times is listed for all of the types of the printing services provided. Samples are available and can be viewed online or a free sample kit can be sent to you by request. A mailing service is also available.

Just Press Print

Located in Rochester, New York Just Press Print offers an online printing service solution. They specialize in professional online printing of the best brochures, club flyers, postcards, business cards, event tickets, bookmarks, greeting cards, and books. Just Press Print understands the need for high-quality printed materials that reflect your business or personal identity. Their printing team combines more than fifty years of experience in the Rochester printing services industry that will ensure that your orders, no matter how large or small, receive the attention and quality processes for top printing results.

Select a print product from the online list, use their pricing calculator, and add the product to your shopping cart, choose your delivery method, upload your files and Just Press Print! They also offer local pickups for Rochestarians.

Just Press Print provides instructions on how to prepare your files and even provides a video tutorial that walks you through the process of placing an order. They provide an easy to navigate fly-out menu that allows you to customize your order with paper stock selection, colors, coatings, etc. Files are uploaded at the end when an order has been placed. A PDF proof can be emailed for your approval, or you can have a hard copy mailed to you via USPS.

In addition to a variety of other products, Just Press Print offers shaped business cards including rounded corners, leaf, half circle, and standard.

Online Specialized Printing and Business Services


Perhaps the largest online printing organization in the world, Vistaprint has over 25 localized websites that serve various markets around the world, over 4,100 employees, three state of art manufacturing facilities and 13 offices, including its corporate headquarters in Venlo, the Netherlands. Vistaprint is focused on giving the 50 million micro businesses around the world a chance to make an impression and stand out with professional marketing products and services at an affordable price.

Vistaprint offers a wide-range of products including business cards, postcards, stationery, labels and stickers, signs and banners, calendars, stamps and ink, magnets, finance products, clothing and accessories, holiday products, and specialized promotional products like pens, mugs, phone cases, and much much more. They also offer business and design services and can even help you build a website, incorporate your business, create an email marketing campaign, etc.

You can choose pre-designed layouts or upload your own illustrations and designs. Prices are very competitive and special offers are frequently made available. Prices, printing and uploading specifications are available for each product though a pop-up window. Files are uploaded through an easy to use upload manager.


Zazzle provides is custom, on-demand product creation and distribution on their online platform. Zazzle’s, The Make Engine™, allows you to create items and products for anything you can imagine that can be used for self-promotion or sold by way of their online marketplace.

In addition to having promotional materials produced for your own private use, you can Make money online by selling your designs on hundreds of retail-quality products! An online store can be easily created for free on Zazzle. You will be able to sell t-shirts or posters online featuring your illustrations. You can make even more money when you join Zazzle's Associate program and refer buyers to Zazzle. Zazzle's provides the online tools to make it possible to sell your art on t-shirts, stamps, posters, mugs, business cards, skateboards, calendars, tote bags, hats, posters, and more. There's absolutely no cost.

Zazzle allows you to set your own royalty rate on every product, choose hundreds of retail-quality products to design, and reach more than 25 million monthly online shoppers. Opening a store for free. Zazzle also provides many tutorials and guides on how to produce merchandise and market it online.

Other printing services usually limit the maximum number of colors in a design to six, and charge more for additional colors in a design. Zazzle uses an innovative digital technology that imprints our products with as many colors as the image contains — at no extra cost. The result is a vivid, maximum-quality image at a great price.

Zazzle uses exceptional quality apparel, papers and materials and exceptional quality digital printing techniques. Your artwork is infused into the product it is printed on. Regarding apparel products, this means that the printed design is as soft and supple as the rest of the shirt. Traditional printed materials display an unusually vibrant image that will radiate a professional look.

Café Press

Café Press offers a unique concept where you can create print materials and products with you identity for yourself or to sell online through Café Press’ shopping service. They can produce traditional marketing materials such as business cards, postcards (which Café Press calls invitations), mailers, etc., or you can have your illustrations applied to T–shirts, pajamas, flip flops, tanks & hats, phone cases, tote bags, drink ware, and other gear. You can have illustrations on (just about) anything you can think of! Add your identity or illustrations to everyday items like bags and water bottles, or take it up a notch and custom–create jewelry, keepsake boxes and home accessories. Just start with your own logo, an illustration or a slogan, and have it added it to any product you choose. This is one great way to put your personal stamp on specialized promotional materials.

On the sales side, customers can choose from over 300 million products on every subject imaginable — many available on over 600 product SKUs, from apparel and drink ware to posters, electronic accessories and more. Plus users can make their own designs with our easy online design tools, then buy them, share them or sell them in their own online shops. CafePress.com today ships over 6 million products annually, and has over 11 million unique visitors to our website each month.

Other Resources

Designers Toolbox

Designers Toolbox is an outstanding resource for print dimensions and templates. The site provides thorough data on postcard, business card, envelope and folder sizes, as well as standards for paper sizes and other useful information. International size standards broken down by country are provided for business cards.

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