Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Making A Mark" sets up a gallery at Imagekind!

The problem with being somebody who enjoys research is that you can do too much! I've been looking for a site for some time which will do a comprehensive fine art giclee 'print on demand' service for my work, produce a good quality product, offer framing (and ideally print to canvas) options for those who want it, provide a good service and not make huge inroads on my time. Plus it was essential that the service also offered shipping to customers (because I'm really, really awful (really!) at putting things in envelopes!) and good quality control arrangements in relation to any service malfunction.

I'd more or less narrowed it down, with some reservations, to when the huge upheaval surrounding that enterprise started up - so I had to start looking around again as I'm not at all happy with their new offering to artists. Which is why you've been seeing references to print sites and online galleries in the "Who's made a mark this week" posts on Sunday.

That was also the point at which I realised that Dan over at Empty Easel was also investigating all the different on-line gallery sites (and has his blog posts archived under "selling art online"). He seemed enthusiastic about the Imagekind! offering so I decided to take a peek - and liked what I saw. It's not perfect, there are things I'd like to be different but it looks very promising. I've worked before with companies which are still in the early years of operation and I have found that they are often the ones who respond best to customer feedback - so I'm optimistic things will improve as they compete for market share.

This post is by way of announcing I'm going to give Imagekind! a try.

I've started with the free option and I'm not going in for any razzamattaz right now. I may have a 'grand opening' later if I decide to upgrade and have got a number of images ready for publication. Right now the focus is on testing out the service - to see how good the product is, how fast and how well the delivery service works - both in the USA and internationally, how much I like the site (or not) and whether all the existing functionality works well.

So far I'm impressed with the ease of setting up an account, the scope for description and tagging each work and the presentation of the gallery. I'm also extremely impressed with the options for doing custom mats and framing - and spent hours last night trying them all out! I'm puzzled by some of the search results but don't know whether that's a result of me being new to the site or not. However putting my name in the search box this morning brought up my work. The next thing to do is get a few more images scanned and uploaded for the 'test drive' period.

So - I've got things to test out and I'd like you to help me out. Here's what I propose:
  • I must find out how the site works from a potential customer's perspective. I really value your views and, whether or not you want to buy a print, I'd really like to know what you think about :
  • It would be great if anybody would like to explore the options for custom framing or printing to canvas.
  • In return for getting feedback I'm going to keep the price of prints on the images I load and publish lower than I expect to set when I "open for business" proper. I'm not sure how long this will be - but let's say I want to be open for business proper no later than 1st September. It may be earlier.
  • I will also do a more formal review(s) on this blog of Imagekind! as a 'print on demand' site when I've had feedback about "how was it for you?" as well as much more experience myself in using the site and setting things up.
...and look - I've got a "fan" already! This only went up very late last night and it was such a nice surprise this morning to see Martin's face looking out at me! Martin Stankewitz of Edition Handdruck is an old cyberchum of mine who is a very fine draughtsman who lives in Germany.

As a fine art printer himself, I know he's very particular about the sorts of internet sites he will do business with. He has got lots of his sketchbook drawings, pastels, monotype prints of images of the architecture and landscape of Provence and trees available as giclee prints in four galleries. This gives both me and you a much better sense of what my site could look like in the near future. Plus I'm looking forward to getting lots of tips from him too!

So - if anybody fancies taking my new gallery for a test drive please feel free and do let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. At the moment there is only one image showing up - "Potential" - it seemed appropriate! ;) I have lots more scanning for print quality to do! I'll aim to get a few more images posted in the next few days.

You can get to the gallery any time by clicking on the new icon in the right hand gallery (just below the subscription icons). My current thinking is that I will also have an icon for a gallery image as well - and then change that each time I produce new work.



Kasie Sallee said...

Thank you for sharing this information Katherine. I will be very interested to see what you think of the company.

vivien said...

it looks great, the prices are very reasonable, your write ups are - as always - excellent!

It looks very professional and I'm certain you'll do well with this.

I may set an account up with them when I've got these canvasses out of the way and have a clear head.

Katherine said...

I've done a bit more since I wrote the above and I'm still happy with what I'm getting - plus it is incredibly easy to use once you start remembering where everything is.

I particularly like the look of it - but rather wish I could turn off or vary the black border on my blog. Nasty - my blog is not a funeral home! ;) I will be asking if this is possible.

Martin said...

Hi Katherine,
believe it or not on many days the thing I do after breakfast is "making a mark".:). It´s been good fun to be your first fan on IK and soon there will be hundreds. Your approach is well thought-out as always. I will mail a summary of my 6 months experience later this week.
Thank you very much for mentioning my activities in your post, that's very kind.

Katherine said...

Hi Martin - there was a time when the thing I had to do before breakfast was write my post for the day! ;)

Thanks in advance for your info re Imagekind!

Writer's Workshop said...

Aloha from Hawaii. I just looked at the Imagekind site. I explored your and Edition Handtruck. The sites look great. Very professional. I love that they take care of payment and mailing. I am sure my husband and I will take advantage of Imagekind.
I, too, begin my day with Making a Mark. You have been a true inspiration. Since finding you, I have embarked on a painting a day project. I am a pastel artist.
Thank you again for your information.

Dan said...

Very exciting, Katherine! Good luck with Imagekind; I'm sure you'll do well.

Sarah at Imagekind said...

Katherine, thank you for your honest appraisal and suggestions.

We are very sincere in wanting to make Imagekind the best place for artists to sell their work, so please continue to share your suggestions on how we can do that.

I'm a fine art photographer as well as an Imagekind employee, and I've found Imagekind to be the best option out there for someone who wants high quality POD and customer service.

Jennifer said...

I did a quick test run and found it all very easy to navigate and figure out (though I've done it before in researching for myself!) Nice bio and of course lovely work!

The image I tested only had paper options. How is it that canvas isn't offered? Does this have to do with the file size that you uploaded?

Katherine said...

Underneath the button which says custom frame is another one which says "View it on canvas to bring it alive"

Basically you can:
1. order a print - in a variety of sizes and on a variety of papers
2. order print plus frame and mat according to what I've recommended
3. design your own print, custom frame, mat and glazing according to your own preferences; or
4. order it on canvas - gallery wrapped or white edges

The only problem so far as I can see is the sheer quantity of choice

Katherine said...

Sarah - thanks for the comments and also for the answers to my e-mail queries. Much appreciated.

"JeanneG" said...

I too went to the site. I tried clicking on the print, frame, and canvas but no image came up. Just one of those little square boxes you get when there is no image.

Carol H. said...

This site looks very interesting and I'll be exploring it some more! One thing that I noticed that I *don't* like though, is the limited searches available for genres and subjects. I do pet portraits, where would I put that? And my work is realistic, where would that go? So that part is kind of confusing.

Jo Castillo said...

I went over and looked around. Easy to navigate and your site looks good. There are lots of options. Thanks for all the info.


Katherine said...

I think I'm going to do an update post very soon but in the meantime....

Carol - I absolutely agree about the problems with the search facility and in fact I've already written to IK about that. The limited categories causes problems here and I think you're right in identifying that as a way of getting people to the right set of pictures fastest. I'm also unclear about how one matches categories and tags with members art.

Jeanne - I'm going to e-mail you and check out exactly what you did as I'm not sure. In the meantime, I've included a clearer instruction about what to do in the flowers gallery which takes you to the main page for each individual flower. I'd much appreciate it if somebody would check that out for me and see if it works better.

Dan - thanks for the message
Jennifer - thanks for the compliments
Jo - it's my pleasure!

Katherine said...

I forgot to say - I'm sufficiently convinced that it's making life easier for me that I've gone for the platinum option. More comments to come in the next post about this site.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

It looks pretty good, i came across a few formatting problems on various pages where the page wasn't rendering properly but apart from that i like the design and its easy to use.
Wasn't too impressed with their information for shipping internationally and i could have done with a better description on just what the difference in papers was.

I recently went down a similar path with an Australian company who are doing much a similar thing ... their product is targeted more towards photographs tho and i didn't like their end product (highgloss) for art. but this one seems great directly targeted for the artist and would be just what i would be after. Be interested to hear all the comments.

Katherine said...

Thanks Belinda. I've seen Red Bubble and it looks good but did wonder whether it was more geared to photos.

There is more information - in fact one of the things I've come to a conlusion about this site is that there is a lot of well written information - if you just know how to find it. I think maybe they need to improve their sign-posting a little.

I'm going to cover this in my next post.

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