Friday, July 20, 2007

Imagekind: an update and a new Catnapping gallery


Introducing the first image in the Catnapping Gallery
(http://makingamark.imagekind.com/Catnapping)
(click the image to see a larger version of the screenshot/ click here to see the real thing)

The major changes in my Imagekind account in the last 24 hours with are that:
I've also decided to start providing feedback on the Imagekind site in stages as there's a lot o good points being raised and a lot to comment on!

The new Catnapping Gallery

I've realised that I have a number of drawings which I will never extract from sketchbooks but which could look great as a print. The other benefit of selling prints is that I don't have to scratch my head and try and remember whether or not I was using pigment based archival ink in the pen and ink drawings!

The first gallery of monochrome drawings - the catnapping series - has been created and can either be accessed
if you put 'catnapping' into the search facility at the top of the site. or you can find it here http://makingamark.imagekind.com/Catnapping.

For all catlovers I've also got a separate Feline Art Gallery (for colour images) waiting in the wings and will introduce it when I write about the SOFA exhibition in September. It will include any images which are included as originals in the show.

I'll also be reviewing drawings of other subjects to see whether I can generate a good enough scan for a print.

Upgrading

There are a number of options. The free account offers one gallery, up to 24 images, storage facilities of a maximum of 200 MB plus and 200 MB bandwidth per month. That's great if you only have a small number of images or you just want to test the service.

However after a day, although I'd identified a few irritations by and large I was sold on the concept and the service and was itching to get on and try loading a sample of images - and I wanted more than one gallery for these.

I looked at the prices and, if you crunch the numbers and have the cash available, there's no question that the upfront payment of an annual fee offers best value for money. So last night I signed up for the annual Platinum option which gives me unlimited facilities in relation to images, galleries and bandwidth. The choice is pay an annual fee upfront of
$94.99 for the Platinum option (which = $7.91 per month) or spend $7.99 per month for the Pro option or $11.99 per month for the Platinum.

Scanning and scans

I'm scanning smaller works @300dpi and saving as a tiff file. This giving me files of about 20+ megabytes. Using PS Elements I'm also making sure I save the SRGB file information with each image. The colour looks fine on my screen and has needed absolutely minimal tweaking. This is in the context of my scanner having the following resolution settings:
  • Scanner resolution digital: Up to 9600 x 9600 dpi
  • Scanner resolution optical: 2400 x 4800 dpi
The imagekind website - intuitive navigation and signposting

The site is easy to navigate and intuitive up to a point. Generally it's very well written. However people have commented about options not being available when they are and I don't think it's as clear as it could be in relation accessing certain information. In addition, the actual choices available - while excellent - can get quite bewildering. I came to the conclusion that are some gaps and omissions - for example I only learned about what the tiny '+' icon on images of paper, mats and frames did late last night - as I was setting up my 4th image! (For those who haven't a clue about what I'm wittering about - read on!)

Two welcome additions would be:
  • a very basic step by step set of instructions walking you through the whole process which can be printed off (one for buyers; one for creators and one for sellers) and
  • a checklist at the end to make sure you've done or considered every option you have.
What is available

The following are aspects of the service which people commented on or asked about. It does seem to me that the site is well set up for artists as well as photographers who can often dominate similar services.

I can confirm:
  • you can choose whether to set your mark-up (ie fee/'profit') on the base price of each image by a specific number of dollars or a percentage of base price (I'm opting for the latter)
  • this page describes the 'creative options' available - in brief. To access the detail you need to upload
  • for the custom framing (customers will click the custom frame button in the above screen) you can have a choice of:
    • as many sizes as your image allows (minimum size 800 pixels) upto a maximum of 6
    • 8 different papers for different purposes and with different prices. You can get detailed information about each one by clicking the little '+' sign in the bottom left hand corner. Some are particuarly suitable for paintings in oil, acrylic or pastel which have a texture.
    • there are 20 categories of frames and in excess of 500 individual frames listed (some appear in more than one category). For each of them you get images and text of the detail of each frame by clicking on the '+' in the bottom left hand corner
    • a collage frane (for more than one image) - I've not looked at this yet but do have some sets which might suit this
  • you have a choice of 3 acrylic and 3 glass glazing options. One of the acrylic options offers UV protection.
  • all your customers can choose the papers, mats, frames and glazing that they want and they can afford. the process keeps people informed as they make their choices as to the impact on prices.
Updating and RSS Feed

The updating within the site doesn't seem to work too quickly. For example, I created the new catnapping gallery some 5-6 hours ago and uploaded one image and am still waiting to see it appear on the "recently listed" screen.

A big plus point is that each gallery that I create has an individual feed - that comes through straight away. This can automatically update subscribers/fans of your work whenever you publish.

I seem to be doing a lot of saving, going back in tweaking, saving, having another look at the moment and I don't know that will work its way through to the feed. I've subscribed to my own feed (something I always do so that I know if something is wrong) so we'll see what happens. It would be good to have an e-mail option because I know a lot of people read their feeds via e-mails rather than a feedreader.

This feature has implications for how you allocate your images between galleries. For example, I don't think all my fans of the catnapping drawings will also like my flower drawings - hence I have two different galleries.

What improvements I'd like to see

Most of this is a subject for a future post - but I do have one niggle.

Member art covers orginals which are paintings and drawings in traditional media, photographs and digital art. You can view Member Art by subject (limited choice) and genre (limited choice). What you can't do is just see images of paintings and drawings using traditional media. I think there should be an option to do this very early in the process.

International Shipping....and tax!

I'm going to deal with what I've found out so far in the next post.

If you want to make sure you read this and don't have a subscription can I suggest you go either to the top right (just under the map) or scroll right down the bottom of this page and subscribe to this blog via your regular feedreader or by e-mail.

Links:

12 comments:

vivien said...

Your comments about the ability to sell sketches you had no intention of removing from sketchbooks was one of the benefits that had occurred to me

I've got hundreds of sketches I wouldn't part with that would be suitable, as well as paintings/sketches given to family and friends that could be used as well as photos and digital images - the possibilities are endless :D .

your information is incredibly helpful in deciding - thank you :)

vivien said...

ps I'm off to check out the updates :)

Katherine said...

It was one of the things that tipped the balance for me as well.

I keep getting very nice compliments about drawings and sketches. However, I could never ever regard them as having any sort of intrinsic worth other than they made a very valuable contribution to maintaining my drawing skills and providing material for worked up/larger drawings.

I'm trying to work out how to do some other sketchbooks at the moment.

vivien said...

have you thought of the self publishing books? I think your readership is large enough to make it viable.

Katherine said...

Absolutely - I'm just trying to work out the best way of doing it at the moment. Plus I'm watching other people's efforts and waiting for their fedback!

vivien said...

me too!

I haven't checked thoroughly yet but can you have square images on imagekind?

if not that's feedback for them? a lot of contemporary artists do some work that is square and quite a bit of mine is!

Katherine said...

I've got exactly the same query about some square ones of mine.

I'm going to try uploading a square image and see what happens

vivien said...

keep me updated? via the blog?

will stop filling your comments section up now!

Casey Klahn said...

Katherine and Vivien, you no doubt have seen my book report for MyPublisher at my blogs. My research is not as thorough as yours, Katherine, but I did pull the trigger to see what a book would look like, after an investment of 1 long day of formatting and @ a half day of clean-up, and about $50 U.S.
I think I have found my book source! I will be interested in exploring a greater amount of room for text, though.
I, too, have seen the commercial viability of my sketches, because they look nice on the CRT. I'll be following your experiences with Imagekind closely.

Felicity said...

Katherine, I hope I'm not being a nuisance as I've already asked a lot of you this week but I have another question. It comes from having decided to bite the bullet (finally!) and focus and hence my question relating to commissions and posting. I'm thinking that having prints is a better option than selling originals and this post was extremely interesting as the original to print process is fairly complicated (not to mention then having to find a market) - is this a better method of selling? Is it effective? Presumably one has little or no leg work to do other than scanning and signing up?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

In terms of production of the print and despatch - absolutely right - the work is minimal once you've got an account and gallery sorted.

However the real work comes in relation to marketing. Imagekind is NOT a place which sets out to market on your behalf - so you'll need to do that for yourself. However you always knew that marketing takes up about 50% of an artist's time in order to achieve sales didn't you! ;)

I'd suggest you think first about how you'd market work and generate subsequent sales - for example maybe by using your blog. Over and above producing attractive images, you need to keep driving people to the site to get sales.

Felicity said...

Thanks Katherine! Yes, that is an area I need to work on. I see examples of incredibly talented artists having very few comments and others, who are perhaps described are hobbyists, have a lot of traffic but is it traffic that will generate sales, since many are art bloggers who are themselves trying to get noticed and sell? - I don't know.

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