Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Print options?

As regulars know I like to experiment and see if different kinds of prints sell, but I don't like listing every possibility just because it gets hard to choose and there's no reason you should have to become an expert on a zillion choices to buy a print.

So one possibility is to make metallic prints a regular thing, or list them on eBay. Metallic prints are on this paper Kodak makes that's a bit hard to describe (which is no fun if you're selling online). But it really does look metallic - it's kind of reflective, almost like a super glossy paper but where glossy paper just reflects back glare this really has a nice effect. It looks really good for black and whites, and in an image with strong color like a blue sky or flowers they just pop. It looks OK for more subtle color images but isn't anything special. The problem is that the lab has a minimum order and if I let people buy them of any image I'll have to buy some random extra prints and then store them and sell them on eBay. (That's one of the nice things about eBay - it lets me do something useful with prints I bought to fill out an order). Point being I haven't included those as a regular shopping cart option because 1. It's a bit of a hassle, 2. I have to explain (poorly) what it is, and 3. it probably doesn't work with every color image. The cost of this would be the same as a regular lab print.

Another involves gallery wraps. This is something that used to be a really high end option and it's become a lot more mainstream. Basically the image is printed on some suitable (often canvas but it's possible to do it with a regular photograph) and then pulled around a frame. They're pricier up front but you don't have to pay to get them framed so if you intend to hang it right away it kind of works out. There's also a very cool looking variation called a float wrap which is the same idea but the way the mounting work it hangs out in space a bit. Very cool. (Update: except for the fact that they didn't seem to consider how they attach to the wall. I can think of two ways to make it work with additional hardware but can't expect a customer to be happy receiving one of these. Double update: I asked their customer service and they intended a third way that's guaranteed not to hold during an earthquake or anybody lightly brushing against it.) Obviously you have to think a bit about the edges - is there enough blank space or something relatively unimportant to end up on the edge. So again, it might not make a great storefront option for every image, but it's a cool custom order option. The cost might be something like three times what it would cost for a regular print, but again you wouldn't have to get it framed.

The third involves small prints. Usually people want small prints as a money saving thing (they're hoping they'll be cheaper) but given the time involved to order a print, sign it, package it, run to the post office, etc. etc. and the fixed costs like shipping and packaging it's not like you would save enough on a 5x7 to make it worthwhile. But I'll do them as a custom order sometimes for people who are interested because they have a wall with other 5x7s and they want them framed the same way or whatever.

There's a special case though which is ACEOs. These are little "art cards" - same size as a baseball card. They're fun to collect. I have some ACEO watercolors. They don't take up much space and you can use regular baseball card holders to protect them. I'll make them of alternative process prints sometimes. I'm sort of tempted to offer ACEOs as a regular print option but the logistics are tricky. I'd have to charge shipping, and you order those as a wallet sized print so you get eight at a time. It might make sense to maybe make a set of 12 different ACEOs and make a little edition of eight and see if they sell. Cost? I guess it would depend on interest...

Another variation on this theme is to offer 4x5s. 4x5s are tricky because to get the best price and meet the minimum order you have to order a ton of them. But they actually look pretty cool (I have thank you cards which are 4x6 prints with a 4x5 image and the last inch used for text.). I'd probably do something like offer them unsigned, or maybe sign one of them, but you would get a whole set at a time. That would actually be pretty cool - get a nice stack of 4x5s with a whole set. I'm not sure about cost but it might be a dollar or two per 4x5.

Anyway, I'm always mulling over this kind of stuff. If anybody wants something, send me an email and I'll quote you a price.

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