Are you considering listing your art on a POD (Print on Demand) website? Here are some things you should know.
Textile manufacturers worldwide are investing in digital technology. This is causing a shift in the way Surface Pattern Designers create and license their work, and the opportunities in the industry are changing. Currently the two main textile printing techniques are Rotary Screen Printing and Digital Textile Printing. Other methods like flat bed screen printing and direct to film printing are also used but are not as cost-effective. Steps in textile printing are being automated for smaller and more energy-efficient processes. Single pass digital printers are becoming smaller and smarter and are matching the speed of rotary screen printing. Digitally printed products have no minimums, allowing for personalization, while remaining profitable for manufacturers. It is clear that digital technologies are the future of the industry.
In 2022 the global print on demand market was valued at $5.397 billion. It’s projected to reach $39.035 billion by 2031. That’s a compound annual growth rate of approximately 26.2%. There is a growing demand for personalized one-of-a-kind products with 36% of consumers expecting some form of personalization. Many Surface Pattern Designers are adding POD listings to their art licensing businesses, or side-stepping the licensing process all-together.
The main difference between Commission Based POD websites and White Label or Drop Shipping POD formats lies in the level of involvement and responsibilities for the artist. In Commission Based POD, the platform takes care of various aspects such as promotion, sales, production, packaging, shipping, customer service, and returns. Artists simply upload their work, and the platform handles the rest. On the other hand, with White Label POD, artists are responsible for listing and selling products through their own website, promoting the products, and managing customer service. The POD manufacturer takes care of production, packaging, and shipping, with the possibility of adding the artist’s branding information to the packaging.
While working on a custom duvet cover for a client I was comparing options between very similar products on Spoonflower and Society 6. The determining factor had to do with how much of the duvet cover would be printed. The Society 6 option was single-sided, so if the cover was folded over you would see lots of plain white fabric. This would’ve been a deal breaker for the customer. The duvet cover from Spoonflower was printed on both sides, and that’s the product we decided on. Familiarizing yourself with this kind of detail takes a lot of time, but can be very useful in deciding where to upload your designs. It’s especially helpful if you can be clear with customers why you’ve chosen one product over another.
Print quality and product quality vary greatly among POD sites. And each product may have special considerations. One of the best ways to determine the quality of a particular product is to order samples, but when listing hundreds or thousands of products, it is not very economical. Here are some other ways to vet quality
When Utah-based ‘Raspberry Creek Fabrics’ opened their Designer Studios to commission based sales, many designers were eager to join in. Early in the process we realized that it was relatively straightforward to right click on the full design tiles and copy them from the website. Word of the potential design file protection issues spread quickly through the design community, with many designers choosing not to list their work until the files were watermarked or blurred.
In situations like this I would recommend communicating your concerns directly to the POD company in question, to make sure that you are getting the most accurate information possible. When I asked co-owner Justin Rammell for a summary of what the issue was, and how Raspberry Creek Fabrics resolved it this was his reply:
‘We had a system in place that watermarked images appearing on the site. Yet, we found that in the checkout window, customers could click the image and download full resolution images without the watermark. The full resolution images were never displayed on the product pages. The issue was discovered because a customer posted about some fabrics she ordered and included the images. She was just excited about her order. A designer noticed they were full resolution. There was no theft of images by another printer or group to our knowledge.
Now, all images reside on a separate server. We provide a low res version to Shopify. The original image is never available on Shopify.’
Design theft is a real concern for artists who publish their work online. Some POD sites have better image security than others.
Things to look for:
Many artist’s small businesses thrive on word of mouth and visibility on social media. Having your work correctly attributed is very important. This goes beyond recognition, and crosses over into issues of copyright.
Things to look for:
PRODUCTS: fabric, home décor & wallpaper
DESIGNER DISCOUNTS: 10%
PRODUCT LISTING: unlimited listings
AFFILIATE LINKS: exclusively for ambassadors or partners
IMAGE PROTECTION AND ATTRIBUTION: excellent
PRODUCTS: wall art, home decor, bed&bath, apparel, furniture, bags & accessories, office, tech, outdoor
DESIGNER DISCOUNTS: purchase your own products at the base price
AFFILIATE LINKS: 10%
PRODUCTS: Stationary, Apparel, Home Décor, Bath and Beauty, Car Accessories, Electronics, Art, Gifts, Weddings
ie example custom luggage tags with a picture of the bride and groom for a destination wedding
ARTIST COMISSIONS: set your own commission rates between 5% and 90% (higher than 15% royalty -zazzle charges a transaction fee) Payments occur when you hit $50 in commissions.
FEE: no listing fee, no proofs required
AFFILIATE LINKS: 15%
RED BUBBLE & Tee Public
PRODUCTS: Apparel, stickers, phone cases, wall art, Home & Living, kids & babies
RASPBERRY CREEK FABRICS
PRODUCTS: Fabric & Wallpaper (mostly apparel fabrics)
ARTIST COMISSIONS: 10% of sales, affected by sale prices
AMAZON MERCH ON DEMAND
**YOU HAVE TO RE-PUBLISH EACH PRODUCT DAILY
PRODUCTS: Apparel, Pop Sockets Grips, Phone Cases, Throw Pillows, Tote Bags,
COMMISSIONS: Vary depending on the country for example a T-shirt in the US approx. 10%
fees: no fees
done by tier you start with 10 products – manually reviewed if you have sold 10 of the 10 products you’ve created to move up to the 25 tier
Tier levels: 10, 25, 100, 500 – also based on the quality of the products being sold
designs are reviewed and approved
Designs that do not sell within a year are removed
**customizable shop pages
PRODUCTS: T-shirts, Apparel, Home Decor, Accessories
Commissions: Set your own prices
ArtStoreFronts, Zenfolio, and Fotomoto
PRINT ON DEMAND WEBSITES SUITABLE FOR DROP SHIPPING or SELLING ON ETSY
What is Drop Shipping and how does it work
1) a customer buys a product from your online store
2) your online store automatically sends the order to a POD site
3) they fill the order and ship it to your customer
Things to be aware of for DROP SHIPPING
ART OF WHERE
** Silk fabrics
PRODUCTS: apparel, pillows, scarves, wall art, accessories, bags, fabric, stationary
-ships from Canada and the US
**a printing platform connecting to mulitple printing manufacturers
JETPRINT – niche products like Shoes, yoga accessories
PRODUCTS: digital products and print on demand products
streaming videos, ebooks, audio & music
PRODUCTS: Wall Art, Mugs
*transparency about printing processes
PRINT ON DEMAND WEBSITES the FINE PRINT