POD Image Do’s and Dont’s

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 Biggest Shark
For my work “The Biggest Shark” I used the biggest image I’ve ever produced at over 50 megapixels.

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

A One Sided Conversation
For, “A One Sided Conversation” I used Topaz Impression to enhance the image to look like an Impressionist painting.

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:

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.

Don’t Overcompress

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.

Thanks everybody!

P.S. If you liked this article, please consider signing up for my newsletter. I send it out every Wednesday and it includes links to my latest artworks, articles, and videos, as well as discounts, deals, and freebies!

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FineArtAmerica – A Review

Dodo Afternoon
“Dodo Afternoon” One of my best selling prints on FAA.

Generally people like to save the best for last, but I’m going to go with the best first. Building up the infrastructure to sell art online requires time. When you post artwork for sale, it can take months for search engines to pick up your entry. So I’m going to tell you about my favorite Print-On-Demand site first, because, the sooner your get started, the better.

As I’ve mentioned before, Print-On-Demand (abbreviated “POD”) sites are websites that display your artwork on the web, and, from which, people can purchase prints. A print of your art is not made until someone places and order. The POD site handles accepting the payment, making the print, shipping it and handling any returns. The website gets part of the profit from the sale and your get the rest.

There are dozens of POD sites on the web. So which is the POD site that I prefer, the site where I keep all of my art that I sell as prints? It’s FineArtAmerica.com (abbreviated by most people as FAA).

If you’d like to know more about how I used FineArtAmerica to sell my artwork, check out my article How I Sell art on my art site.

FineArtAmerica.com has recently been transitioning to the name Pixels.com, so visitors can go to either site and your works will appear on both (There is one subtle difference between the two: pixels offers phone cases featuring your art in addition to prints).

FineArtAmerica: Pros

There are quite a lot of features I like about FAA…too many to list in this article, so I’m only going to cover the top ones.

Fixed Mark-Ups

In my experience, the biggest benefit that FAA offers is mark-ups. On FAA you specify your commission for a print sale as a dollar amount…you set a mark-up for each print size. Conversely, almost every other POD site has you specify your commission as a percentage of the total sale, which makes it hard for you to know how much you will get for a sale and sometimes (depending on how they do their math) can make your works much more expensive than they would be on FAA for the same commission amount. In fact, the owner of FAA, has an article that includes this very subject.

Sized to Fit Prints

One of the things that drives me nuts about most POD sites, it that they only sell particular sizes of prints. These are usually the standard sizes such as 11″x14″, 16″x20″, 18″x24″, etc. The problem with this is that your artwork’s aspect ratio can’t fit all those sizes, and, in fact, may fit none of them at all. To deal with this, those sites force your work to be cropped to fit their offered sizes. Not so, with FAA. On FAA, the selections are based on the length of the longer side of your art. The shorter side is automatically adjusted to fit your whole image, meaning that no cropping is necessary.

Artist Website

For users who pay the annual fee ($30 U.S.), FAA automatically creates a website just for you. You can even have your own domain name (like DanielEskridge.com) redirected to this site. Your artist website requires no additional work on your part; though, if you want to, you can customize it to some degree. One of the great things about this site, is that visitors see only your work and none of the work of other artists on FAA. For instace, if visitors do a search on your artist website, only your works show up in the results.


If you’re an illustrator like me, there is a licensing program that allows people interested in using your art for their commercial endeavors to purchase non-exclusive license agreements. FAA handles the contract, fee collection, and the delivery of the high resolution file. All you have to do is watch the fee get credited to your account! Note that they do add a 30% mark-up on top of your fee.

Other Great Features

Here’s a few other great features:

  • You can sell originals on FAA
  • FAA has a mechanism for you to manage an email marketing campaign
  • FAA allows you to generate discount codes and have limited promotions
  • FAA has social aspects such as user organized Contests and Groups

FineArtAmerica: Cons

FAA is not perfect. Here are a few cons that I can think of…

The Fee

A lot of POD sites are free to use. FAA does have a free option, however you are limited to 25 works for sale and you miss out on a lot of features, like the artist website. The fee could be worse though as it is only $30 (U.S.) a year.

Preferential Treatment

The internal search engine, collection galleries, and featured images all favor artists whose prints sell better. If you are new to FAA, this works against you a bit as the established artists have the advantage. However, keep in mind that the folks at FAA report that most sales come from buyers who found the art via a Google search, not from internal browsing and searching.

Upload size limit

Any image you upload to FAA must be under 25 megabytes. For a large high quality JPEG, that is easy to pass. I often finding myself having the lower the compression quality of my images to fall under that limit.

Print Rejection

For digital artists like myself, this isn’t much of a problem, but photographers and traditional artists may get hit with this. Whenever a print is ordered from FAA, someone checks the quality of the image and might reject if it falls below a certain standard. Generally, they look for things like blurriness, pixelation, visible edges – like the side of the canvas that the painting is on, etc, i.e. technical flaws. The problem is you don’t get this rejection until someone orders a print. That means that not only does the artist miss out on a commission, but the buyer might be driven away. In some cases, it is understandable, as the images really are of poor quality, but I’ve often seen artists complain of an image being rejected that was really not that bad or only appeared to have problems due to the artists particular style.


There is a lot to FAA. If you are looking for a good POD site, I strongly suggest you check it out.


Where To Sell Art Online

Where do you sell art online?

This is a huge question. It’s one of the cornerstones of this blog. Later on, I’ll get into detail about specific sites, but for now I want to set the stage and tell you about the two main kinds of sites that allow you to sell your art over the Internet.

Direct Sale Sites

The first kind are what I call direct sale sites. On these sites, you create some sort of entry describing an individual piece of art along with at least one image. The site will have some mechanism that will display your entry to potential customers. Visitors seeing your work on these sites can then purchase your art through the site. The site might accept payment on your behalf or it may leave it up to you handle. Either way, when someone chooses to purchase your art, the site notifies you that you have made a sale. It then leaves it up to you to complete the transaction. If the site didn’t handle the payment, you’ll need to do that first, then you will need to ship your artwork to the buyer.

Direct sales sites, can require a lot of work on your part, but if you are selling originals, it’s pretty much what you’ll have to do. Some examples include eBay, Craigslist, and Etsy.

Now here is the thing about direct sales sites: I don’t generally recommend them. Selling art on these sites is nearly impossible unless you have a well known name. Besides, people go eBay and Craigslist looking for bargains, and you probably don’t want to sell your art at bargain prices. The one exception is Etsy which is dedicated to selling arts and crafts; though, reports I get from other artists are that crafts and sculpture do well there, but 2D art (photos, drawings, paintings, prints, etc.) does not.

So if direct sales sites are no good for selling your original art, what is? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute…

Print on Demand

Running With Buffalo
This is perhaps one of my best works. Because I have it on a print-on-demand site, I have sold numerous prints of all sizes of it to people all around the world.

The next type of site is the print on demand site, hereafter referred to a POD site. With a POD site, you create an account to which you upload digital images of your artwork. Usually, you need to provide some details about you work such as the title, description, pricing details, etc. The site then publishes your work to their galleries (or, in some cases, creates a personalized gallery for you). Visitors to the site can browse through the galleries an buy prints of whatever they like. If they buy one of yours, you get a cut.

What’s great about this model, is that after you upload your art, you don’t have to do anything else regarding that sale. The POD site handles the processing of the payment, makes the print, ships, handles the customer service. Most will even handle returns.

Previously, I mentioned that I don’t recommend direct sales sites for selling original art. That is because many of the POD sites allow you to sell originals as well. So, for an individual piece, visitors will have the option of buying the original, but can also buy a print. They see both, and after seeing a high price for the original, a lower priced print will seem like a bargain, making them more likely to buy at least the print from you (this is known as the “Anchoring Effect” in marketing). So, if you have original to sell, skip the eBays of the world and use POD sites that offer selling of originals instead.

There is one problem with POD sites however: the print series are, by nature, unlimited. This can give collectors a sense that your prints will have trouble increasing in value, and while your art may make for great decor, it makes for a poor investment. If you are really concerned about this, there are ways to overcome this, such as giving an expiration date to your postings, but I’ve found that they are mostly not worth the effort.

Other Types of Art Business Sites

There may be a few other types of sites out there. For instance, I use a service that lets people rent my art for a period of three months with the option to purchase a print at the end. There is also something called microstocks, which allow businesses and individuals to license your work for use in commercial endeavors. I don’t have much experience with microstocks, but, if you don’t mind giving up control of your work, if may be worth your time to look into them.

I hope this article wasn’t too long, but it is a necessary foundation for future articles. So enjoy,