My Sticker Materials
I get a lot of questions about what I use to make my stickers. I'm happy to share! I've compiled a list of my materials, as well as some caveats and insights into my choices and experiences.
Learning how to make and sell my own stuff has been a bit of a learning curve. When I only had a few designs, it was fairly easy to keep up and do everything myself. But then, I hit a weird tipping point where I was selling a little bit too much to keep up with printing everything on demand, but not quite enough to get my entire stock professionally printed. So, I do both! I get some of my stock printed and cut by outside companies if it's a speciality sticker or if it sells particularly well and I print my own for most of the others. It's a balancing act.
All of my stickers are durable and dishwasher safe. I put a lot of work into testing out different printing companies and choosing my favorites (I'll write another post about that soon), and I also tested out different options for at-home printing as well.
Before we dive in, I want to be clear that I did not buy all of this before I started. I acquired most of this stuff along the way, often using the money I made from sales to upgrade. Also, some of the items were gifts. I just wouldn't want anyone to think that you need all of this stuff in order to get started.
Here's what's in my office/craft room
(Most of these are affiliate links, but some are not. I'll note the affiliate links with an asterisk)
I do most of my designs on an iPad* (mine's a 7th generation, but I got it before the 8th came out) using an Apple Pencil*. Generally, I draw in Procreate, but I also sometimes use Adobe Illustrator. When I first started, I didn't have an iPad yet, so I did all my drawing in Illustrator using a Wacom Tablet*.
Currently, I use the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000* printer. I chose this for a few reasons. The features I specifically wanted included: handling of heavier papers, printing to paper edges, and 6-color ink.
Overall, I'm happy with this printer, but it's not without its quirks. I spend a fair amount of time unjamming paper. I was considering a few different options when I chose this one, and if I'm honest, it was the only one that was in stock at the time (I bought it around back-to-school time, as everyone was working from home). I've heard good things about the Canon Pixma Pro* as well, but I can't personally vouch for it without first-hand experience with it.
I also use the Rollo Thermal Label Printer* for address labels.
To cut my stickers, I use a Cricut Maker* with a Premium Fine Point Blade*. I bought my Cricut for crafting before I started making stickers, not the other way around. I know there's a lot of debate over the Cricut versus the Silhouette*, and here's my take:
I have definitely had problems with the Cricut. I wouldn't call myself an advocate for them by any stretch of the imagination. Also, their customer service is terrible. I had some issues where I couldn't cut my stickers reliably and I could not get through to them in a useful way. That's actually why I started getting my most popular stickers printed from a service. I considered spending that money on a Silhouette instead, but then I read online that their customer service is even worse. I do get the impression that people need customer service less often, though.
Cricut did eventually send me what I needed to fix the problem, but I won't pretend that it wasn't an absolute nightmare of a process. So, honestly, I just don't think either company is really meeting the expectations that they should be meeting.
Sticker Vinyl & Laminate
I personally am an advocate for making stickers out of printable vinyl and using a durable laminate for waterproofing. I have ordered a lot of stickers online, and it's really difficult to determine who is making them with high quality vinyl and who is just using sticker paper. I absolutely think there's nothing wrong with sticker paper stickers! They just serve a different purpose. If you want something that will survive on your laptop or water bottle, you need to go vinyl.
For more durability, I also add Oraguard 210 Laminate. I personally prefer matte, but it is available in gloss as well. I have also tried the Oraguard 236, which is a little bit more affordable (although it is already very inexpensive), but, in my opinion, the quality drop is not worth the cost savings.
I have also used several products from Online Labels. I especially like their pre-cut labels (I used their gold ones for my Advent Calendar, for example). A lot of people use their full page sheets for stickers in lieu of vinyl.
In my experience, vinyl doesn't work well for sticker sheets, so I have tried their Standard White and their Weatherproof Matte. I didn't like the standard white for sheets, so I used it for return address labels and similar fare before I got my label printer. I use the Weatherproof Matte for sticker sheets now, and it works pretty well. Ultimately, though, I think I'm just always going to be wishing it was vinyl (sigh).