Fine Art Prints

posted May 7, 2014, 4:57 AM by jaxun Pixelskizm   [ updated May 7, 2014, 3:37 PM ]

Studio Pixelskizm Fine Art Prints Changes Homes - May 7, 2014

After 10 years as a member of the venerable print on demand service giant Zazzle, I decided it was time to see what else is available in the market for self-publishing artists. A bit of googling brought me to Fine Art America. This is my initial impression of Fine Art America, and a comparison to Zazzle.

Firstly, I have no complaints about Zazzle. I've sold a handful of prints over the 10 years my art has been living on their servers, purchased a few for myself, and am quite happy with both the pricing and the quality of prints they produce. In all likelihood, I will continue to maintain a store front on Zazzle to produce non-print merchandise. Zazzle has a great service, and my only motivation for changing things up is to re-align and refocus my print offerings with the fine art print market.

Ten years in internet time is practically an epoch, and Zazzle has weathered the ever-changing web quite well. They have regularly expanded their product line and updated features to make it easier for the self-publishing artist to sell their work and manage their business. However, I believe that same expansive catalog of artists and products can make it hard for a fine artist to make an impression in the context of a serious pursuit of art sales. It should go without saying that an artist should be actively marketing their work and not simply rely on the fickle click of anonymous visitors to sell their work.

Enter FAA. Fine Art America is a service focused on print making for artists and collectors, and offers features for members that are geared towards the fine art market. While their free product is quite comprehensive, I will most likely subscribe to their Premium account for a very reasonable $30 a year, if for no other reason than I have WAY more than 25 pieces I want to publish.

As I get my head back into a creative space, with an intention of ramping up my efforts to get my art in front of more eyeballs, I evaluated FAA on the basis of that focus. I will acknowledge again that simply changing print providers will not automatically get my work more views, but the print options and artist marketing tools they offer provide a more integrated platform for a motivated artist to launch and sustain a serious marketing campaign.

So what features of FAA stand out and compelled me to sign up? Here's a list, in the order presented on their Features page.
  • Artwork Ordering Catalogs - FAA has a feature whereby an artist or collector can generate a PDF document from a product's page that neatly summarizes print prices, a URL for the image on FAA, and a QR code that brings a mobile user directly to the catalog page. This is a seemingly inconsequential option, but I could immediately see the value of such a printed document in some of the venues I plan to frequent with my art samples. Since I plan on keeping zero inventory for sale, having simple, attractive price sheets to accompany my samples is huge. FAA's presentation is clean, consistent, and packed with information for prospective customers. Brilliant!

  • Full Resolution Previews - Being able to zoom in on a piece of art I want to have printed is an option I appreciate as both an artist and customer. I want some assurance that the details are sharp and clear for customers, but I also don't want my work being copied. FAA's implementation of full res previews is well executed and addresses both the need of the consumer and the artist in one elegant presentation.

  • Event Promotion, Press Releases, Blogs, & E-mail Marketing - These are the kinds of marketing management features that demonstrate FAA's focus on artists who are serious about their careers. An artist can promote their creative efforts with these features in a unified, professional manner and keep collectors up to date on whatever developments are happening in that artist's world. This set of options certainly sets FAA apart from Zazzle.

  • Facebook Application & Facebook Shopping Cart - LOVE THIS! I was not sure what to expect with regards to the implementation of this feature, but as someone who established a FB presence for my studio, this integration with the Studio Pixelskizm "fan page" really enhances the utility of that space. While my feelings about FB are mixed from a consumer point of view, I cannot deny the reach and impact that FB can have for an artist who thoughtfully cultivates a presence using this platform. This kind of integration with FB is a well-considered option on FAA's part.

  • Visitor & Comment Tracking - This is a nice feature that both sites have, but FAA's provides a more granular view on views and activity. It's nice to be able to see who has viewed a piece, and where visitors are viewing from.

  • Limited Time Promotions & Discount Codes - Another feature that clearly shows FAA knows its target audience. I have considered offering "promotional" pricing with my work on Zazzle, in the form of links to "private" products with reduced commission values. It can be done, but it's cumbersome, an afterthought. FAA has baked this approach directly into the service. Now I can offer price reduction incentives to prospective collectors who see my work at, say, an art festival, and I can track venue-specific purchases with these discount codes to see where my art is getting the most attention. Well done!

  • Community - In this sense, FAA is more like DeviantArt than Zazzle. There is an acknowledgement on FAA's part that artists can benefit from structured communication and interaction with other artists. There are forums for general discussion, groups that have specific focus, like/favorite/follow mechanisms, contests, chat, and more. Fine Art America serves as more than just another POD and shopping cart tool for artists. It provides a hub for artists to connect and share with, and encourage each other. I think that's pretty cool.

There are other features of FAA that intrigue me, such as password-protected galleries for commissioned work, image licensing management, interior design/corporate buyer program, TV licensing, and Returned Art Donation program, to name just a few. 

There is one confounding restriction that the service places on the file size of an uploaded image. I am not sure why they chose 25MB. What it means is that I must go through my catalog and down-res anything larger than 25MB to post it. This is not a deal killer, but more of an annoyance about having to do manual editing I would probably end up doing to add a signature on many anyway.

In my brief time exploring the Fine Art America website and service, I am convinced that they have successfully carved out a niche that caters to motivated and engaged artists who want to take control of their marketing to reach wider audiences. I am looking forward to seeing how my fledgeling career as an artist takes off with this service as my foundation!

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