Investing in one of the best art printers can be a cost-effective way of producing high quality prints of your work without having to go through expensive repro houses. While outsourcing to the pros guarantees you top-notch results at a price, with the right printer you can do it yourself on heavy fine art media to get prints that look professional.
Obviously you can’t do this with the average desktop printer. The best art printers are big, heavy beasts that use lots of pigment-based inks (rather than dye-based) to print at scale with maximum clarity and faithful colour reproduction, and you’ll need to bear in mind that on top of the high purchase price you’ll also be letting yourself in for ongoing ink costs. But if the demand’s there for your work you should quickly turn a profit on the deal.
We’ve picked out eight of the best options around, from cheaper models that’ll still turn out much better results than the best home printers, through to serious heavyweights for maximum quality. Read on to up your printing game.
The best art printers in 2021
If you’re planning on printing in large numbers you’ll want to do it as cheaply as possible, and while the Epson EcoTank ET-7750 is a large initial outlay it’ll save you money in the long run. The big cost associated with printers is ink cartridges – for which you’ll inevitably pay a premium – but the ET-7750 instead has five high-capacity ink tanks and comes with enough ink for up to 3,400 prints.
The ET-7750 can cope with paper up to 300gsm and up to A3 size, and it delivers fantastic prints thanks to its combination of CMYK dyes and an additional black pigment ink for improved contrast. For great image quality and low running costs, this is one of the best art printers you can get.
When you’re looking for a cheap art printer you don’t want to go too cheap; a budget model might be at a price you like, but the end results are likely to leave you unhappy. That’s why the cheapest art printer we can recommend is the Canon PIXMA iP8750. Compared to many of the models features here it’s an absolute steal, and it still delivers on quality.
It’ll print a bordered sheet of A3+ in full colour in around two minutes, and with five dye-based inks plus a pigment black the results will be worth waiting for. And if you want to save money, you can buy high-yield ink cartridges for it that’ll cost you less than standard cartridges.
For one of the best art printers that gives you bigger prints with plenty of colour depth at a not-too-exorbitant price, look to the Canon PIXMA PRO-200. It’ll cost you a fair bit more than the PIXMA iP8750, but you get what you pay for in the form of an 8-ink dye-based printer that’s reasonably fast and delivers beautifully crisp results that’ll be dry as soon as they emerge.
The PIXMA PRO-200’s set of eight inks make it ideal for getting colour reproduction just right, and it’s capable of printing on anything from standard paper up to heavier fine art media. And if your work’s wider than A3+, that’s not a problem; this printer’s capable of creating panoramic prints up to 990cm wide.
If you want to go bigger than A3 then you’ll need to spend more, and if you don’t want to compromise on quality then that’s going to push the price even higher. Which brings us to the Epson SureColor SC-P900. It’s expensive out of the box and its set of ten pigment-based inks mean that it’s not going to be cheap to run (you’re looking at £380/$420 for a full set of cartridges), but if you need big prints that look really impressive up close then you’ll find that it’s well worth the money.
Where the SC-P900 really comes into its own is in printing on fine art media and even poster board; these will give its pigment inks the chance to really show their stuff. It takes its sweet time printing at maximum quality, but you’ll be delighted with the results.
Compact and relatively affordable, the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 comes in at just the right price point for anyone who wants a versatile and capable printer that can stretch to larger prints. Its front-facing tray holds A4 paper, but the rear paper feed can handle A3+ and heavyweight media more suitable for art prints.
With six dye-based inks you’ll get great colour reproduction and contrast, and it needn’t cost you a fortune to keep it filled up as it’s compatible with Epson’s XL cartridges that give you more ink at a better price. And you don’t need to get caught out; you can sign up for pay-as-you-go ink via Amazon Dash Replenishment, so that when your printer senses it’s getting low it’ll order fresh cartridges for you.
Another heavyweight model that’s worth the investment if you need big prints that positively pop, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 delivers A2 prints – plus panoramic prints up to 1.2m in length – and gives best results when used with matte and fine art media.
The PRO-1000’s quality comes thanks to a set of no less than 12 pigment-based Lucia Pro ink cartridges, each of which can be replaced individually, as well as a chroma optimiser that gives your work a smooth top coating if you’re printing on glossy paper. It’ll produce an A2 print in around six minutes, and thanks to the top-quality inks the results will be stunning.
If you demand top print quality and colour accuracy and don’t mind paying for it, the Epson SureColor SC-P5000 should be near the top of your shopping list. It’s one of the best art printers around; a 17-inch printer that’ll handle A2+ posters, fine art media and panoramic prints, and it features an internal colour calibration sensor that means it’s capable of reproducing 99% of the Pantone solid coated colour range with its set of 10 Epson UltraChrome HDX inks.
Perfect for printing out exhibition work and high-end art prints that customers will want to hang on their walls, it’s by far the heaviest and most expensive option listed here. But if you need perfect art reproduction and long-term reliability, you’ll find it soon pays for itself.
This isn’t your average art printer. Aimed mainly at architects, engineers and anyone else who needs to print out large-scale line work without going to a repro house, the HP DesignJet Studio is an A1 plotter that looks amazing, has fantastic eco-credentials and delivers big, crisp results.
It’s made with as many recycled materials as possible, using low and renewable energy construction processes, and comes in ‘Steel’ and ‘Wood’ options so that you can choose the model that fits best with your studio. While it only has a basic set of dye-based CMYK inks and will struggle with smooth gradients and photographic quality, for plans, diagrams and line work at maximum size it’s a fine choice.