Print Discussion Pt. 4 – What?

The Webmaster here yet again. Last time we talked about finding someone to make prints for you. This time let’s talk about what to print. These are only my opinions, and they are pretty specific to what we are doing, so take it with a grain of salt.

What should I print?

Art. I would say “good art”, but that is very much in the eye of the beholder. So instead I will suggest that it should be art you will hopefully not be ashamed of if you saw it a few years down the road. The quality of the art produced will improve over time, but you should be able to look back and know it was your best effort, even if it does not hold up to your current standards.

No really, what should I print?

Well, that is going to vary greatly depending on what your target audience purchases. You need to look around the places you plan on selling art, and figure out some of the basics. What are people buying? How much are they spending? Does the style of what you have fit in enough to sell, but stand out enough to be unique.

Aren’t you going to actually tell me what to print?

Not as such. Sorry. Instead I think you should start out by printing the format others are using. If people sell posters, sell some posters. If people sell stickers, sell some stickers. Certainly if no one seems to be selling wallet-sized prints, there might be a reason. Until you get a feeling for your market, it is probably worth playing it safe. The hardest thing to figure out is what you should not print.

So what shouldn’t I print?

Well, lets start off with the basic. Don’t print things which you know have a really small targeted audience. You are talking about mass production.  If there is one person out there who would love it, sell them an original and move on. Instead try to make at least a passing stab at appealing to a wider audience.

Next, don’t print things in odd sizes. Honestly this is a pet peeve of mine. What good does it do for me to buy a $50 print if it costs me $200+ to mat and frame it. Either make the art to a conventional size, or tastefully mat it to a standard size. If it costs more to frame than to print, the chance anyone will keep it, let alone hang it, for long is pretty minimal. My collection of art which may never be framed is a bit too large in all honesty.

Finally, at least when starting, don’t print in something you can’t carry enough varied stock of. You want to be able to carry a dozen pieces or more with you. Otherwise you are placing all your eggs in one basket. It is not to say that one thing is not great, but there is always the chance the people who would buy it are not there today.

Taking chances

Now, that said… you will have to branch out eventually. If you are selling exactly what other people sell, you can only compete on price. Trust me that someone can always sell things cheaper than you. It may just be some online site ripping off artists… but not everyone cares. So you will have to look at being the best artist you can, and providing what people want.

So I highly suggest listening when people say something like “This would be awesome as X” or “I wish this was Y size”. Now I am not saying you make everything people want either… but there might be trends brewing, or a new line of product with enough of a margin to give it a chance.

Keep an eye on the bottom line

This needs a post on it’s own. However, before you run off a bunch of prints, make sure that you can make a profit doing it. It would be really easy to invest a bunch of money in something you can’t sell at the price the market will bear. No really… trust me.

Next time, I will talk a bit about what started me on this whole series… preparing files so you have something to print to print.