Probably the best way to make money online with your art is to sell prints using Print-On-Demand (POD) sites. If you want to know more about How I use a POD site to sell art, jump over to my new website and checkout this page: How I Sell Art.
That said, the most important thing you can do to have a healthy gallery on a POD site is to upload high quality digital images of your artwork. So without further ado, here are a few things I’ve learned about uploading your art to sites like FAA:
Do Use Big Images
The higher the resolution of your image, the larger the print that can be made from it. So if you upload a 600×800 pixel image, your customers will not have much choice in the sizes of the prints they can order. They’ll be stuck with some very small options. I generally upload only images that are 3000×4000 (that’s 12 megapixels) or higher, but you can probably go as low as an 8 megapixel image and still provide a wide range of print sizes for your buyers.
Don’t Upsize You Image
Though you should use big images, NEVER enlarge a small image using something like Photoshop or GIMP. Enlarging a digital image lowers it’s quality, creating pixelation that will be visible as “patches” in the print. If someone orders such a print, the POD service might refuse to complete the order. They don’t want to risk the loss associated with a return. Not only is the sale cancelled, but the customer is left frustrated and will likely not return.
Do Enhance Your Image
If your image was not digital art to begin with, take the opportunity to enhance it. If you used a digital camera to digitize your work, you may HAVE to do this to compensate for less than perfect lighting conditions at the time you took the picture. You can use software tools to do things like:
- Adjust the value to get a full range of light and dark
- Increase the contrasts to increase the drama
- Increase the saturation of dull images
- Adjust the colors to balance them out better
- Apply stylistic filters using tools like Topaz Impression *
Now, if you are trying to sell the original through your POD site along with prints, you probably don’t want to make the digital version diverge too much from the original. After all, you don’t want to misrepresent your original. Otherwise, you can enhance to your hearts content. In fact, you might even try using the same source image and applying different sets of enhancements to different copies to turn one work of art into many.
Many PODs have a file size limit, and, in order to come in under that limit, you will probably have to use some form of compression to on your image. The most common form of image compression is JPEG. When you use software to compress an image, such as GIMP or Photoshop, they will offer a list of compression algorithms. PNG is better, so use it if you can, but often, the files that it produces will still be too large, and in some cases, it’s irrelevant because the POD site converts all uploads to JPEG anyway. So, if you use JPEG (JPG), you will usually be given the option to set the quality of the compression as a percentage. Go for the highest percentage you can to avoid a banded look in parts of your image where there are large areas of similar color. If you compress too much, the image quality might fall below the threshold of what the POD will print.
Sometimes, I will actually reduce the size of an image rather than use a low JPEG quality level to get an image under the max file size for FAA. Unlike upsizing an image, downsizing does not lower the quality nearly as much.
Do Create A Low Resolution Version For Marketing
Once you have your digital image ready to upload to a POD site, create a small copy of it, something that is only a couple of megapixels. Use this smaller copy when you upload your image to anywhere other than your POD site. So if you are marketing your work on any social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, or photo sharing sites, such as Flickr and Tumblr, use the low resolution image. First off, it will be quicker to upload, but also, it will deter any serious art thieves. With only a low resolution image, no one can take your image and reupload it as theirs to another POD site and compete against you with your own image. Also, make sure the POD site does not make your full resolution image publicly available.
These are some of the important tips I’ve picked up over the years using POD sites. I’ve always been surprised at how many artists I see on forums complaining that their sale was cancelled due to poor image quality. I know it would certainly ruin my day to see one of my sales reversed. So make sure it does not happen to you. Upload quality digital images to your POD account.
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* Please be aware that my link to Topaz Impression is an affiliate link. Should you click through that link and order anything from Topaz withing the next 30 days, I get a small commission. This happens at no additional cost to you. And, THANK YOU in advance if you to do order.