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Etsy Digital Prints 101: How to Avoid disappointment and Find High-Quality Art

Etsy Digital Prints

Etsy is a great platform for finding unique and one-of-a-kind digital prints, but it can also be a minefield for low-quality and low resolution artwork that might not look quite what you’re expecting when you print it. In this guide, we’ll show you how to navigate the world of Etsy digital prints and find high-quality art that you’ll love.

What are digital prints?

Digital prints are either reproductions of original artwork that are created using a digital printing process, or artwork that has been exclusively created using digital tools. Unlike traditional prints, which are created using a printing press, digital prints are created using a digital file and a printer. This allows for more flexibility in terms of size, colour, and detail, and also makes it easier for artists to produce and sell their work.

As the buyer, it seriously raises the flexibility of your purchase, think about the options you have over regular prints:

  • You have full control over the printing cost. Print locally and save shipping costs. Full choice of materials, frames etc.
  • You can print it as many times as you want – one digital file can be reprinted anytime you like
  • Full control over printing size – make it just right for the space you’re trying to fill
  • Print it on multiple items – do you really like the print? don’t just hang it on your wall, make it into a tshirt, print it on a water bottle, or put it on a mug!

How to spot low quality digital prints on Etsy

One of the biggest concerns when buying digital prints on Etsy is not so much the risk of being scammed, but purchasing from someone who doesn’t really understand the relationship between file size and print quality. We have an interesting period developing at the moment where a lot of people are starting to create digital images using artificial intelligence. This isn’t necessarily a problem, AI Art looks fantastic when a talented producer can create just the right look. Here at, we regularly use AI Art ourselves, but the technical aspects of finishing images in other digital tools and professionally handling them to create images at the correct size and resolution is something a lot of AI artists struggle with.

Understanding Pixels, DPI, and Print Size

When it comes to digital prints, it’s important to understand the relationship between pixels, DPI, and print size in inches. These three factors are all interconnected and can affect the overall quality of your print.


A pixel (short for “picture element”) is the smallest unit of a digital image. The number of pixels in an image is referred to as its resolution, and it is measured in pixels per inch (PPI). The more pixels an image has, the higher its resolution and the more detailed it will appear.


DPI (dots per inch) is a measure of the print resolution of a digital image. It refers to the number of dots of ink that a printer can put on a single inch of paper. The higher the DPI, the higher the quality of the print. For digital prints, you generally want to look for images that are at least 300dpi.

Print Size in Inches

The print size in inches refers to the physical size of the print. It’s important to note that the print size and the resolution of the image are not directly related. For example, a small print can have a high resolution and a large print can have a low resolution.

Relationship between Pixels, DPI, and Print Size

When it comes to digital prints, it’s important to have the right balance between pixels, DPI, and print size. In order to produce a high-quality print, the image should have a high resolution (lots of pixels) and a high DPI (at least 300). Additionally, the print size should be appropriate for the resolution of the image.

However, it’s important to note that it’s not always necessary to have a high DPI for large prints. A lower DPI can be used for larger prints and still have a good quality output. It’s important to have the right balance between DPI and print size.

When ordering digital prints, be sure to check the recommended DPI and print size for the image, so you can be sure that you’re getting a high-quality print that you’ll be happy with. In general here is a table of print sizes with recommended pixel resolution:

Print Size (inches)Recommended Pixels (W x H)
4 x 61200 x 1800
5 x 71500 x 2100
8 x 102400 x 3000
11 x 143300 x 4200
16 x 204800 x 6000
20 x 246000 x 7200

It’s important to note that these recommended pixel resolutions are based on a DPI of 300, which is considered to be high quality for printing. If you plan to print at a different DPI, the recommended pixel resolution will vary. Additionally, it is also important to consider the image quality and the subject of the image. For example, if the image is a portrait/photo, the recommended resolution might be higher than an image of a illustration for example.

Some other things you should look out for when making a purchase:

  • Limited information about the artist: Look for an artist who has a detailed bio and portfolio on their Etsy shop. Be wary of sellers who have little information about themselves or their work.
  • No return policy: Etsy does not require a returns or refund policy for digital downloads, however many high quality sellers who believe in their work will go above and beyond and make this guarantee. If a seller doesn’t offer returns or is unwilling to work with you if there’s a problem, there are probably better options out there you can buy from.
  • It’s worth mentioning that some digital print sellers offer a pdf download as the ‘Etsy Instant Download’ that contains a link to their dropbox account where the actual images are that you bought. This isn’t ideal, but it is totally normal as Etsy places a 20mb limit on the total of digital downloads for a listing and this is one of the only ways artists can get around the limitation and provide you with the best quality images.

How to find high-quality art on Etsy

Just because there are low quality images on Etsy to avoid, doesn’t mean that you can’t find high-quality art. Here are some tips for finding the best Etsy digital prints:

  • Look for established sellers: Sellers who have been on Etsy for a while and have a good track record are more likely to have all the kinks in their process ironed out.
  • Read reviews: Take the time to read reviews from previous buyers. Look for comments about the quality of the artwork, the seller’s communication, and their return policy.
  • Ask questions: If you’re not sure about a piece of art, don’t be afraid to reach out to the seller and ask questions. An attentive artist will be happy to answer your questions and provide additional information about their work.

Go forth and buy digital

Finding high-quality digital prints on Etsy can be a bit of a challenge, but with the right approach, you can find beautiful, one-of-a-kind art that you’ll treasure for years to come. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to avoid issues and find the perfect piece of art for your home or office.

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