Today I'm going to give you a little rundown on how I handle prints. Fine art prints are a beautiful, flexible, and economical way for collectors to decorate a variety of spaces and support my art, without committing to an original or a commission. They're also a great way to get ahold of a piece that you love when you discover that it's already been sold. Essentially, I do two kinds of prints: "signed" and "print-on-demand" (or "POD" or "dropshipped" depending on how cool I want to sound when I say it).
I say "flexible" because this client ordered a 32" x 32" of a small cactus painting that was originally 8" x 8". The big one looks amazing on their mantle. The small one... probably would not have made such a big impression lol. (Of course, you can always commission something the size you want, but this is the next best thing!)
Signed prints are signed by me after I order them from a local print shop. In the beginning of my art career, when all I had were my 9 little watercolors, I used Pirates Alley in Oklahoma City to do my scanning and printing, and I even bought UV-protective, museum-quality glass there to swap out into the inexpensive 8x8 frames I bought from Michaels. If I remember correctly, I chose Pirates Alley because they guaranteed that their paper and inks were of "giclée" quality--that is, archival-quality, acid-free, and guaranteed to last longer than either you or I.
However, I then discovered Main Street Photo-Video in Norman, my (used to be) hometown! John Thomas (pictured) runs a one-stop shop as well: scanning or photographing, and printing (no glass though). He does not guarantee that his inks and papers are giclée quality, but it sounds like they're as close as you can get. The prints always come out beautifully, and he's much closer to me geographically and cost-wise. So now, he is my print dude!
When I say that I have "signed prints" available, there's a 99%* chance that John is the one who scanned my original, worked with me to pick the best print paper for the artwork, printed my work, and handed me the gorgeous finished product, which I then signed and made available to y'all.
*The other 1% is for oddball prints like the ones below, which I pick up in various places--in this case, a print shop in Scottsdale, AZ, during an art walk! They were eager to demonstrate their giclée printers, and asked me what I had on my phone I'd like printed. I'd just done these little snapchat paintings of various scenes around Phoenix, and they printed them for me!
When I have signed prints, I'll make them available on my Prints & Products page, or let you know if they are being sold exclusively at a gallery or store.
Because I don't often do signed prints (mostly because they're a bit of a gamble... if I don't sell them, I have to figure out where to store them where they won't get damaged), I try to make all of my work available on various print-on-demand sites. All I have to do is get a good scan of my art, color-correct it, upload it to the site, tweak a few settings, and click "Upload." I use several sites because they all have different organic traffic flowing through them all the time. For example, from what I gather, Fine Art America shoppers are mostly galleries and other artists, and Society6 and Redbubble are all sorts of people looking for cool gifts and hip stuff for their house. Through the magic of #tags on my artwork, I can pull people onto my art pages on each of those sites who may never have heard of me otherwise. I also often redirect people I know in real life who want prints from me to those sites, because I know they will be able to get what they want quickly.
If you don't mind a bit of a wait, and would REALLY like a signed piece, and for some reason Main Street Photo-Video isn't an option, feel free to contact me. I'll give you my address so you can ship it to me from whatever site you choose, I'll sign it and embellish it, and ship it to you. You'll pay shipping and handling (including embellishing time) on top of whatever you paid the dropshipping company.
Please note: If you ever buy anything off any of these sites, I will not be able to thank you unless you let me know it was you who bought it. The one bad thing about these dropshipping sites is that THEY keep all the contact information of the people who buy stuff from me. I never see it. I can see the city where the art was shipped to, but nothing else. One of my clients sent me the photo of her art in her house (pictured, thanks, Savannah!), and that's the only way I was able to pour my gratitude on her. And put her on my client Christmas card list. :)
Artist pals: I use Fine Art America (which is now merged with Pixels, I think), Redbubble, and Society6 for my dropshipping. Of these, my favorite BY FAR is Fine Art America because their upload interface is hands-down THE BEST. And you can set standard $$ markups on items, apply them to ALL your products at once, and change them at any time. If I remember correctly, Society6 and Redbubble let you set % markups instead, which leads to some not-even numbers earned on each sale, which personally bothers me lol. The bulk upload and edit capabilities are very good on Fine Art America. Much better than either Redbubble or Society6, although I'll admit I don't upload to those super often, and they may have improved in the last few months.
My random bits of advice when it comes to getting into dropshipping are:
1. If you have time, use every site you can, and use lots of tags so people can find your art.
2. If you don't have lots of spare time, pick one site, and try to direct all print traffic to it. I have a link off the "original art" tab on my website's homepage that says "GET PRINTS" and it takes people right to my Fine Art America/Pixels page.
3. If you don't have an amazing scanner, and/or pro-grade DSLR and studio setup, and/or extremely fancy phone camera (if you don't make huge paintings), use a professional shop like Main Street Photo Video to get high-quality scans or photographs of your work, with as high of resolution as possible, so the images you upload can be applied to the largest range of products--even shower curtains and bedsheets.
4. Don't forget to edit the scans or photos of your work. Make sure the whites are truly white and the saturation and contrast are true, or else your POD products are going to look dingy.
5. If you're going to go through the trouble of doing that, make sure you buy an external hard drive and BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER. I back mine up every Sunday-ish, so I never lose those images and *most importantly* my organization of them. (Maybe I'll do a blog post on how I organize my files someday...)
Collectors: Below are links to all the sites I use for Print on Demand. I recommend Fine Art America for all canvas prints, because I've seen them and I know they're high-quality. However, Society6 and Redbubble have some nifty products like gym bags, shower curtains, and dresses, that Fine Art America just doesn't have. I ordered a dress made out of my Jardin d'Or painting on Redbubble, and it is AWESOME.
Of these three sites, Fine Art America has the highest number of my pieces, but Redbubble and Society6 have stuff too. If you see a piece of mine you like on my website or Instagram, but don't see if available on the product you want, hit me up and I'll upload it as soon as I can.
So, to wrap up, I've got two kinds of prints available for y'all: signed and dropshipped. I do not often have signed prints in stock, but I'll be making some available soon at the Sea Shanty Scuba & Swim shop in Norman. Dropshipping is easier for me and available at the click of a button. If you buy anything from a dropshipping site, please let me know so I can say thanks and put you on my client Christmas card list!
Have you ever bought anything on any of these sites? How did it go for you? Artist pals, which dropshipping site is your favorite? Did I miss anything that other artists would want to know? Let me know in the comments!
The magic of dropshipping: Anything you want, printed on anything you want.