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What is the best way for a digital artist to sell prints online?
January 30, 2014 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I run a little, very informal art project on a tumblr blog which has gotten somewhat popular. Recently people have been asking if they can buy prints. I don't have any prints for sale right now, and don't know much about how to set up an online store, or if there's some other method that digital artists find convenient. Would anyone be able to point me in the right direction with this?

I do have an old DeviantArt Prints account. But I don't like dA, since the prices are so high and the profit that I receive is so low (idk, maybe dA's prices are normal for third party orgs? I have no idea). So far I'd made more profits by just emailing each client individually, using paypal to sell them a high-res png of the image for a low price, and then giving them directions on how to get the nicest and cheapest print at a copy place. That method is rather sloppy though, and I've been getting increasingly more people asking for prints so I can't really manage it all. So, any advice would be much appreciated!

Bonus (optional) hard mode question: if I were to start collaborating with a few other artists on this project (i.e. it's part of the same project, but they're making completely separate images that would sell separately), would there be a good method of managing that as well, so that if someone buys a print done by Artist #2, the money goes to Artist #2 and not to me? Would it just be easiest to have separate stores?
posted by picklenickle to Work & Money (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have direct experience, but many artists I like (Gemma Correll, Bouletcorp, Noelle Stevenson) sell their prints in Society6. They have international shipping, which is a big plus.
posted by clearlydemon at 1:17 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


The easiest way is to go through an online storefront that handles the printing/shipping for you (such as Society6 or Imagekind). The problem with any of these is that, like DeviantArt, you'll have a hard time finding one where you can make good profit without adding a huge markup to your prints.

Another option is to find a local printer (or even a good quality photo lab; Costco actually makes really nice large-format prints), buy some bulk shipping supplies, and handle things yourself. You'll get to keep a lot more of the profit, but it takes extra time, and if you're like me it will quickly stress you out more than it's worth.
posted by Nedroid at 1:19 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


If you're expecting a online store to handle printing, shipping, and payment processing, expect that they will also take the lion's share of the profit. If you want to keep more of the profit, you'll have to do more of the work yourself.

I would offer your clients two options:
1. Decent quality digital prints from a competent copy/print shop. At this place* near you, you can get 50 11x17" posters for $50. A $1 unit price gives you a lots of room for a mark-up.
2. Offer higher quality limited edition (hand signed and numbered) archival prints, for a much higher price. This will appeal to some folks who are maybe a bit more serious about the art the collect and want an exact reproduction (not just ok) and want it to last. This place* near you offers art-quality printing on premium papers. Much higher printing cost but you can sell for more.

*Not an endorsement; never used these places.

Etsy might be an option that is somewhere between Society6/DeviantArt and just doing this all by email. With Esty you would have to do a bit of work setting up your shop and listing your items. You would still have to print and ship the art yourself, and you have contact with the client directly. But Etsy would helpful in terms of simplifying payment processing to some extent, sending you notifications and tracking your sales.
posted by Kabanos at 2:31 PM on January 30


FotoMoto integrates with many content management systems and a bunch of gallery web apps, tumblr included. I think their printing is still done by bayphoto.com.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:21 PM on January 31


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