Sticker Equipment Essentials: What Do I Need To Start?

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

Learning to create stickers can be a really intimidating process, especially you don't have equipment for stickers. Don't worry – it's easy! Finding equipment for stickers is not nearly as hard as you think it is.

If you want to purchase equipment to make stickers, you'll need – at minimum – sticker paper, access to a printer (inkjet is fine), and access to a hobby cutter like a Cricut Air 2 or a Silhouette Cameo. Your friends may have these tools!

Investing in these tools is a great way to start your sticker business, or even an Etsy sticker shop! Without further adieu – here are all of my trade secrets.

Where to find sticker paper

The only equipment for stickers that you absolutely need is sticker paper. Sticker paper, printable vinyl, label paper – whatever term you use, the situation is the same. It’s some special paper with a sticky back. You’ll need to select your paper based on your printer (inkjet or laser), your material (lots of choices), and your tack level (usually listed as “permanent” or “removable”).

My favorite sticker paper supplier is Online Labels, but you can also use Avery. I would stay away from sticker paper that you buy at a craft store if you’re planning on reselling: it’s just too expensive. Keep in mind that your per-page cost is important, but so is the size of sticker you’re planning on printing. Your per-page cost matters less if you’re making very small stickers, because you can fit more of them per page and cut your costs down. Circle stickers are annoying because they waste space, but it is a popular shape.

Equipment For Stickers: Printing

You don’t actually need the fanciest printer out there, or even a printer at all, to print your stickers. If you can borrow access to your workplace printer, or a library near you has a color printer, those are both low-cost options for printing. For a bit more, you can bring your print file with you (or email it) to your local UPS Store or Staples – both offer printing with industrial output laser printers. These printers will be fast and true to color. Bring extra paper just in case.

A printer is important equipment for stickers if you're in this for the long haul. If you do want a printer of your own, you’ll want to rely on reviews from other printing artists. Some swear by inkjet, but the inkjets they use are not the $60 printers you get from your local big box stores. I personally prefer laser: it’s faster, has a lower per-page cost, and the ink is less likely to smear, fade, or run. However, a beginning laser printer with color is going to set you back $400-600, so it’s definitely an investment that many people can’t make at first.

Don't forget label printing! You probably won't need a shipping label printer at first, but whatever labels you print with your traditional printer will need to be legible and waterproof for your mailman. Starting your business will go a lot better with a label printer.

Equipment To Cut Your Stickers

If you want die-cut stickers, you can use a cutting machine like the Cricut or Silhouette branded machines, or you can hand-cut yourself. If you don’t have access to these machines, or don’t want to hand cut, your other option is to buy pre-cut label paper from a supplier and design your stickers in common shapes like circles and rectangles. Then, you can just slice up the sticker paper around your designs.

A note about purchasing your own cutting equipment for stickers: the Cricut is more user friendly, however, you need to have internet access to use it, and their servers need to be up. Every few months, Cricut users report problems with servers and updates, meaning that you could potentially face some downtime. The Silhouette branded machines are easily used offline, however, their software is simply not intuitive, and their alignment system is pickier than Cricut’s because the user designs the file. In other words, there are trade-offs with both types of machine.

Shortcut List: Equipment For Sticker Making

So, in conclusion, you’ll need access to:

  • Special sticker paper. I use Online Labels or Avery brands.
  • A printer. I used to use The UPS Store, but now I have my own color laser printer.
  • Cutting tools. This could be scissors or it could be a Cricut or Silhouette machine.

Depending on your purpose or sticker paper, you may also want access to a laminator to protect your art or add fun after-effects.

Sticker equipment: what do I need to start? Infographic

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