7 Best Affordable Printers for Creatives in 2024

Are you in the market for an studio printer – or maybe looking to buy one as a gift for an artist friend? A good reliable daily-use printer is a must for every studio artist. In this post, I’ll run through some of my favorite affordable printers for creatives, artists, and makers.

Why listen to me? I’ve been a professional artist for 20+ years working as a medical illustrator and animator, and a fine artist. I also have 10 years under my belt in the sign industry and have used printers of all types and sizes. To top it off, I’m a university professor in design and illustration and I work with our IT and support team to make decisions about what equipment to include in our computer labs for student use.  Over the years, I’ve developed some well-formed opinions about what type of printer I’d buy today and which brands I trust the most.

This article does not cover high-end medium and large format prints for archival fine art printing. If you’re looking for a pigment-based medium format or large format for long-lasting professional-quality prints, I have another article ranking these types of printers

This article does cover laser and inkjet printers that I consider to be some of the best affordable printers for creatives out there.

Let’s get to it!

In General – What Types of Printers Makes The Best Printers for Creatives?

There are really two types of printers that make sense for an artist – and you might even want to have one of each. In my own studio, I have a smaller black-and-white laser printer and a medium-format inkjet. I use them both all the time. 

  1. A good quality, reliable, black & white laser printer or a color laser printer
    A good laser printer is great to have around. The cost per print is cheap and you can use standard copy paper. I use mine all the time to print out drawings, templates, instructions, notes, webpage references, and even to produce work for image transfers.
  2. An inkjet printer that can print photos, references, short-term work to show, and printing proofs with reliable color reproduction.
    A good-quality dye-based inkjet printer is great for printing out reference material, photos, and artwork for exhibits where archival-quality isn’t necessary. For students, it is a great way to be able to print out projects for assignments. I had an Epson Stylus Photo 1280 all through college that I used for my projects and I don’t know what I would have done without it.  

The reviews below are arranged around these two categories: Laser Printers and Inkjet Printers capable of high-quality prints without costing too much. 

At A Glance

Here is a quick preview of my recommendations:

HP LaserJet Pro 4001dn

$359.00 list
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Brother HL-L2460DW

$159.99 list
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HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw

$399.00 list
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Brother HL-L3280CDW

$299.99 list
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Epson EcoTank 8550 Photo Printer

$799.99 list
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Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer

$289.99 list
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Black & White Laser Printers

When it comes to laser printers, there are two brands I trust: HP and Brother. All of my recommendations below for laser printers are from these two companies. They just make good-quality, dependable printers. 

My number-one suggestion for a high-production laser printer is to get a black and white (monochrome) laser printer. You only have one toner cartridge to deal with. The toner lasts a long time (sometimes years) depending on how much you print, and you can work with a variety of paper sizes. The print quality is sharp and high resolution. You can print paper, envelopes, labels, card stock, transparencies, and more – just make sure you buy the right kind of paper/media for laser vs inkjet. 

HP LaserJet Pro 4001dn Black & White Printer

I have an older version of this same printer in my office that I’ve been using for about 4 years now. It has never failed to produce clean, sharp, prints, and I’ve printed on everything from envelopes to labels, paper, and card stock. I love it! This updated model looks to be even better.

Key Features
  • For Work Teams of up to 10 Users
  • 1200 x 1200 dpi Resolution, 42 ppm
  • Automatic Two-Sided Printing
  • Ethernet and USB Connectivity
  • Companion HP Smart App for iOS/Android
  • Preconfigured/Assignable Security
  • First Page Out: 6.1 Seconds
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 80,000 Pages
List Price: $359.00

Brother HL-L2460DW Wireless Compact Monochrome Laser Printer with Duplex

The BrotherHL-L2460DW comes in a little cheaper with a lot of similar features as the HP, and it has good reviews. I’ve owned Brother printers in the past and have been very happy with them.

Key Features
  • Print Speed: 36 ppm
  • Print Resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi
  • First Page Out: 8.5 Seconds
  • Duplex Printing
  • 250-Sheet Input Tray; Manual Feed Slot
  • USB 2.0, Ethernet & Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • One-Line Monochrome LCD; Mobile Printing
  • Preconfigured/Assignable Security
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 35,000 Pages
List Price: $159.99.00

Color Laser Printers

My second suggestion is a color laser printer. Color lasers have come a long way, and if you want to do any kind of laser print image transfer techniques, these might be a great option for you. Of course, there are some caveats. They cost more, they are higher maintenance due to having multiple toner cartridges, and they will cost more for upkeep in general. The color output is also not nearly as good as an inkjet can give you. Still, I have seen some very nice images from color laser printers that would make any graphic designer happy and I think they make great affordable printers for creatives. 

HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Wireless Laser Printer, Remote Mobile Print, Duplex Printing

This color laser printer has terrific reviews and I’ve always had a lot of respect for the quality of HP’s laser printers. 

Key Features
  • Color Printing
  • Print Resolution: 600 x 600 dpi
  • Color Print Speed: 22 ppm
  • Automatic Duplex Printing
  • 2.7″ Color Touchscreen
  • USB, Ethernet & Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • ENERGY STAR Qualified & EPEAT Silver
  • 250-sheet input tray
  • Supports media up to 8.5 x 14″
  • Wireless printing via HP ePrint, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria
List Price: $399.00

Brother HL-L3280CDW Wireless Compact Digital Color Printer with Laser Quality Output, Duplex, Mobile Printing

Get great quality laser printing in color with Brother HL-L3280CDW Wireless printer with some cost savings compared to its competitors. 

Key Features
  • Print Speed: 27 ppm
  • 2.7″ Color Touchscreen
  • Duplex and Mobile Printing
  • Print Resolution: 2400 x 600 dpi
  • Print from virtually anywhere with the Brother Mobile Connect app.
  • Print and manage your printer from almost anywhere.
  • Track toner usage and complete more work on the go.
  • Create secure connections to networks and devices to safeguard sensitive documents
  • Environmentally friendly features
  • With Refresh EZ Print Subscription Service, you’ll never run out of toner again.
List Price: $299.00

High-Production Inkjet Printers

Really, when it comes to an inkjet printer, I would first recommend getting a pigment-based printer like the Epson SureColor or Canon imagePrograf Pro series if you can manage it. This way, you get a great color art printer with the added benefit of long-lasting archival quality prints. They are expensive, but they will last a long time. However, if you prefer to get great color but don’t really need long-lasting archival quality, I have some recommendations for the best affordable printers for artists that produce images good enough for any photographer.

Epson EcoTank 8550 Photo Printer

The EcoTank 8550 produces surprisingly good photo prints – as good as any photo printing service – and has refillable tanks vs ink cartridges. I’m not a super-big fan of all-in-one printers (scanner, copier, printer), but I love this for a few reasons:

  1. You aren’t wasting nearly as much plastic because there is no ink cartridge to replace over and over.
  2. The ink tanks hold a lot of ink. You can get up to 2-years worth of prints with a full tank. 
  3. There are fewer ink colors to worry about. This printer has a 6-color ink system
  4. You can print up to 13 x 19 inches borderless. 
  5. You can print on all kinds of media, from plain copy paper to photo paper and card stock thicknesses.
  6. The scanner bed is larger than most at 8.5 x 14 inches. And Epson makes some pretty terrific scanners.
  7. Printer cartridges are expensive. Although this machine costs more up-front, you’ll be saving a ton in the long run with no ink cartridge purchases. It can easily cost $100 or more to replace inks in most inkjet photo printers – not with this one! This is why, even though it is kind of expensive, it still makes one of the best affordable printers for creatives out there.
Key Features
  • Print, Scan, Copy
  • Automatic 2-Sided Printing
  • Max Print Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
  • 4 x 6″ Borderless Photos in 15 Seconds
  • Borderless Photos up to 13 x 19″
  • 8.5 x 14″ Flatbed Scanner
  • Scan Resolution: 1200 x 4800 dpi
  • 4.3″ Color Touchscreen
  • SD and USB Memory Card Slots
  • USB, Ethernet & Wi-Fi Connectivity
List Price: $799.99

Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer

If you’re looking to spend a little less money while still getting a good photo-quality printer, the Canon IP8720 Wireless Printer might just be the thing you’re looking for. It still prints larger sizes up to 13 x 19 inches borderless, but it comes in at almost half the cost of the EcoTank 8550. It’s still an all-in-one unit, so you get the scanning functionality. The big caveat here is that you will need to buy ink cartridges when the ink runs low, so not as environmentally-friendly and the ink cartridges tend to cost a fair amount – about $75 every time you have to replace the set. 

Key Features
  • Print Resolution: 9600 x 2400 dpi
  • Up to 13 x 19″ Print Size
  • Prints Borderless 4 x 6″ Photo in 36 sec
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • 150-Sheet Automatic Feeder
  • 14.5 Black ipm & 10.4 Color ipm
  • 6-Color Ink System with Gray
  • Can Print on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Discs
  • Auto Power On & Off Settings
  • Works with PIXMA Printing Solutions App
List Price: $289.99

Alternatives to Buying a New Printer – Option #7

Some of the best printers for artists may be a few years old. Buy a used one on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. I have owned a few printers in my day and two of the printers I use the most right now are actually pretty old, but running strong. They take a little more TLC to keep them going, but if you’re a DIY kind of person and don’t mind the extra work, it can be really rewarding and cost-saving. One thing you might consider is doing some research on the printers that have third-party ink systems available. Places like offer a huge range of options that can breathe new life into an old printer. 

Considerations in Making These Recommendations

I’ve been making digital art for more than 20 years and I’ve used inkjet and laser printers the entire time. I’ve worked with just about every brand of printer out there from Brother to HP, Canon, and Epson – even Apple printers back in the day. The best affordable printers for artists recommendations provided are done with the very best of intentions using my experience and personal preference as a guide.

Researching what is currently out there, I considered a few things:

  • Print-Quality
  • Durability
  • Variety of Media and Size Options
  • Ease of use and versatility
  • Brand Reputation
  • Reviews on sites like Amazon and others

Wrapping up

No matter whether you choose Epson or Canon, new or old, there is just nothing like having your own printer and the freedom to do whatever you want with your artwork. I use mine all the time for creating inkjet transfers, printing various art papers, and even printing things out for friends and family. I highly recommend having both a laser printer and a great-quality inkjet in the studio. It just opens up your options, so you’re never wasting time trying to figure out how to get the image you need.

Disclaimer: Some links that appear in this article allow me to earn money using affiliate advertising programs. I only recommend products I truly believe in. Any advice or instructions given in this article are purely my own and supplied with the very best intentions.

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