Friday, June 20, 2008

Selling fine art photo prints online

I keep learning new things and exploring new opportunities. Selling prints via print-on-demand service is one thing in my "to try" list. I don't give it a high priority because my main focus is stock photography and I don't have that many pictures that would fit as "fine art", but it is still something I would like to try.

A few months ago I checked the possibilities and I found not too many options. DeviantArt provides on-demand service, but it's much more a social network than print service. RedBubble is one of such places but I found it was criticized quite a lot (frankly speaking I can't recall the details now, but the registration process doesn't work there anyway). One site that I liked was imagekind - it has a nice interface and nice team. The site is relatively new and doesn't seem to generate much sales. Also, I've got an impression (possibly wrong) that it is making more money from and putting more efforts towards payed contributor accounts, rather than focusing on external art buyers. I did sign for a free account and uploaded a few photos - but I didn't give it an attention since then. Apparently the interface was significantly updated a week ago. Free account implies many limitations - the gallery size is limited to 24 pictures; and the number of keywords (or tags) is limited to only 10 per picture. I am not sure if it is really worth to upgrade to a paid account if there are not that many external buyers.... Perhaps I will give it a try for a couple of months, but I think I need to extend my fine-art portfolio first.

Another print-on-demand site art.com generates more sales but it doesn't keep the doors open for the artists from street. However it has a daughter site artistrising.com that is open for everyone. It has fewer limitations for free account comparing with imagekind (50 pictures vs 24, and more keywords), and the images submitted to the gallery need to pass through the approval process (which is rather good sign - preventing the site from being flooded with garbage means better focus on buyers). I have just registered with artistrising but my first submitted pictures are awaiting approval.

From what I have read in various forums, fine-art print-on-demand business doesn't seem to be very successful for most contributors so far. However this is still very young business model and I think it does have a chance to develop.

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4 comments:

Nathan said...

Thanks for checking out Imagekind MikLav. I checked out your portfolio and saw you have some really fantastic work. I hope to see more of it in the future.

Imagekind has a lot of great artists who sell very well. Thanks for the nice compliments!

Nate

Martin Hosking said...

Hi,

Not sure what the problem you may have had with the registration process at RedBubble (would love to hear) but with 70,000 members in our first year you must have hit a rare glitch.

One thing you can do is go here

http://www.redbubble.com/community/happening/sales

And you will see what is selling in real time. The answer is a lot.

Best regards

Martin Hosking (cofounder at RedBubble)

MikLav said...

I am very glad to see quick reaction from two of the sites mentioned in my post.

It's good to hear that art prints do really sell. I will give it a try indeed (in fact I am already starting).

As I said I don't remember what critique did I read about RedBubble. So while I was getting back to Imagekind, and started with artistrising I also wanted to check RedBubble by myself. Registration process wasn't working - I filled the form but it didn't open the next page after I clicked OK. I saw that for 2 days both in IE and in FireFox. I tried again today (after I saw the comment from Martin) and I don't see any problem anymore. I successfully registered my account and I am about to submit my first photos.

Meanwhile my first pictures at artistrising got approved. You can find them at http://www.artistrising.com/galleries/miklav

Keep in mind that artistrising functionality is a little limited in FireFox. For example, when I try to drag a picture to a collection which I can't for some reason, IE changes the cursor to a prohibitive sign. FireFox doesn't provide any indication, my action just quetly doesn't work.

MikLav said...
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