Some artists are wary of computer technology. I used to be scared to death, and could barely make a resume. But when it made a difference between having food or not for my son and I, I learned computer graphics on a job. One shop I worked for had very particular standards, which I am grateful for now, although it would cause me to have a meltdown at the time. I was deplorable for a long while, and still would not have the skills to be a graphic artist at a print shop. But I do not have to hire out any graphic design or printing and do it all at home. Because I don't pay someone by the hour, I can rework the look of my marketing materials until I am proud of them.

That print shop had enough types of projects that I use as ideas for making all kinds of good quality printed materials.


When I wanted to make a website, I knew I did not want to learn HTML language right then, so I looked at dozens of website template companies online that will manage the engine of the site, while the customer designs the look. They give you templates to get you started, and you are limited only by your imagination, as they say. And time, I would say.


And it goes without saying the opportunity we have with the world wide web.


Digital cameras and camera phones are nice because they are small and you can keep them with you in your bag or at work. As commercial painters, periodically we get to the top floors of the buildings we are working on which means there are great views of the city of Portland in changing lighting conditions. Our job sites change, and then we get to see new famous buildings and take new pictures. The construction processes and equipment can make good photos sometimes. I cannot bring my SLR camera, and the camera phone fits in my pocket.


I bought the best scanner available at the time. It is 600x600 dpi, and has an adapter so you can scan slides. The lid is removable. I flip paintings onto the glass and get a good quality scan. I only wish the bed was 36”x48” instead of 9x12” but, oh well. If it weren't for Habitat for Humanity I wouldn't have any of these things.


Before I did my own printing I was looking for companies online. There was a company out of England called Moo that had a unique service. Because they do digital instead of offset printing they can do small runs. That way if you want only 100 business cards, they can set up the file with 100 different images if you want to provide that. So every card would be different. This got my mind to going. One day I heard myself thinking, “Gee, for that price, I could buy my own printer and do that...” Hey, I could get my own printer and do that, so I did. This gives me the freedom to set up files any way I want, no matter how much time it takes.


I have a small home-office quality color laser printer, the model recommended most for what I am trying to do. It gives me no trouble.


You can find reviews online of equipment. It helps to research online and then locate the piece so you can see if it is constructed like you thought it was. Remember to check on how much ink cartridges will cost and so on.


For the bindery equipment that I am slowly picking up, I also research consumer reports. It is better to spend more and get things once in your lifetime. Also assume what you buy should be heavier duty than you think you need now, but even print shops get by with surprisingly simple equipment.