I do it for complete freedom in creativity. Having a no holds barred approach to creating whatever you want along with the ability to make money off it. Yeah, that’s the bare bones of why I use POD sites.
However, there is more to it. So I’ll explain exactly why I use Print On Demand (POD) as well as the benefits of selling designs on these types of sites.
HOW DID I GET INTO IT?
Well, as I write this post, I currently work within education as an agency support worker. This is done by supporting children, primarily those with behavioural issues, or when the school deems it, also assist children who have special education needs. But, I studied Motion Graphics as my degree and over the years I have tried to get into the design industry but it never seemed to want to accept me?!
Anyway, to combat my pessimism, I decided to get back into the design scene by fleshing out my portfolio with what I was interested in opposed to what I felt I had to by my degree.
Along the way of re-establishing myself, I bucked up onto my first Print On Demand (POD) site; Society6. This is when I coined the phrase “with 1 idea, can turn into many possibilities” as all you need is one design which then could be adapted to be applied to so many different products. It was amazing!
This then catapulted me into wanting to create a design that would be able to work effortlessly on a variety of products yet still hold itself as a stand alone art piece. That led to one of my first designs, which was “White Lines on Black I”. An abstract piece made. It came into existence as I was annoyed at how London always has building work going on which seems to want to fill every little space available.
Completing it was awesome as the art work encompassed what I love, which is the use of geometry, lines and flat colours. Plus it looked great on the product range of Society6.
Fast forward 3 months later, I made my first sale from Society6. Now, I cannot express just how amazing that felt since all the work put into the design was my own and that one anonymous buyer thought it was good enough that they wanted it. However, it is not all joy.
Sites like Society6 are a wonderful hub of creativity. Filled with fantastic art, designs, photography and sketches from a wide varying collective of artists from multidisciplinary backgrounds.
Now, due to that is where the negative comes in. Imagine being a shopper who loves lush things and you go into the store that is filled with those lush things. How will you be able to choose them all? If your purse or wallet is terribly deep, yes, but if not, you’ll be limited. Meaning not all of the artists on these sites benefit the same level of financial success.
But don’t get me wrong, I make sales but nothing that is of noteworthy or anything to make me give up my main job. That said, would I want to go into this full time? No. But it would be lovely to have it as a form of passive income. Though at the moment, it feels more like short change.
When conversing with those on the public forums about these sites they all say of their massive successes yet never really share how it happens to be a success other than “time spent” or use “hash tags properly”. Those vague answers never fill me with confidence.
Yet that does not drive me away. It makes me more determined to make it work.
In the negatives, I focused on the getting spotted out amongst the herd. Still, for me, the positives lie in the utter freedom I get from not having to force myself into a design pigeon hole. I am able to do my whatever I want and run with it plus the highlight is seeing when someone purchases that design on whatever product I enabled it on. As through the thousands of designs available, that one design of mines was chosen gives me a massive boost in confidence.
The close second positive is being exposed to other areas of design that I was not ever involved in. Since publishing my designs on POD sites, I have taken such an active interest in design trends that span across type, fashion, product and textile design. Then add in my new ability to spot different shades and tints of colours, I feel so more at ease than when I was at university which is strange as you would think the studying process should be easing you into things rather than putting pressure on you. Though, that is another story in itself.
Following that is possibly the hardest thing I had to get my head around and it is social media. Creating art for social media channels I found quite hard as they decrease the quality which you have to take into consideration. On top of that, you have to make sure the design fits your target audience, meaning researching what your audience likes in regards to targeted adverts as well as how to present your art so it is appealing while also showcasing your individuality!
Those that follow me on my social media outlets, may have noticed that the graphics I use change frequently and that is just due to me adapting to the impressions and reactions I get from each piece I do.
This malleability I feel is something I don’t feel I would have gotten any other way because this POD project of mine is exactly that. It is mine, making it a fight or flight situation.
SO WHAT NOW?
Well, I started out with Society6, but later opened up a Redbubble account, then a Curioos shop and lastly a Live Heroes store. I’ll explain in a bit as to why I chose the ones I use.
For each one, they have near similar product range but I feel they cater more to a particular audience and they each hold a stronghold in an area of products. I’ll be sticking with just these 4 for some time as I like what they have on offer plus if should add any more. Not sure if I could manage having to keep 4 different sites up to date.
Society6 has a really good selection of home decoration items ranging from Duvet Covers, through to Area Rugs, Window Curtains, Pillows and decor for the bathroom with mats and shower curtains. So for those looking to revamp the soft furnishings and other accessories in their abode. Society6 has a huge selection of designs which will allow anyone to find what makes them, them.
Then there is Redbubble. They are similar to Society6, but not as much home decor items but they have more apparel pieces for men, women and kids plus if you are a huge sticker user, you will be in ecstatic by the vast amount of choice.
Moving onto Curioos, which at the time focused on art prints but now recently moved into t-shirt printing and I am still not 100% convinced about that move but who am I to judge? Anyway, what I loved and still love about Curioos is their ability to print up to giant size artwork plus the variety is amazing, you can get an artwork as the usual art print through to printing that art on glass as well as a circular disc cut print. If you are a lover of wall art, this is one the places to check out.
Lastly is Live Heroes, my apparel store. They have around 25 items for apparel and recently added sports gear. So a design can be applied on a dress, t-shirt, swim wear, kids wear and sweaters/jumpers and lots more! This store gives me life as I personally only wear solid colours, so most of my designs on there feature exactly that with the incorporation of angular designs of shapes and lines. This adds to my passion of wanting to work on designs I enjoy rather than what my degree deemed me to do.
I get bored easily, so using POD sites allows me to be creative and pump out a lot of that energy.
Additionally, the competitiveness I have within myself to want to do well in this is what drives me on. I continuously review my work and myself since there is no security net that you get from being solidly employed to do similar work. So I have to be over critical.
For those who are sceptical of using POD sites, I urge you to give it a go and use it for what it is. An online marketplace that you are able to use it however you want.