EDITOR’S NOTE: Prices and information below may be out of date. Since launching our own art website service for artists at Foliotwist.com, we no longer feel unbiased enough to continue updating or reviewing other art website services. Visit the website below for their most recent information.
When it began in 1999, CafePress.com was one of the first online marketplaces to offer print-on-demand and e-commerce services to just about anyone—giving artists and other creative types the ability to sell reproductions of their art or designs by simply uploading images to the web.
Now CafePress has over 6.5 million members (each with their own CafePress shop) who sell personalized t-shirts, mugs, stickers, postcards, and yes, even posters and framed prints of their artwork.
When you sell an item, CafePress takes the base price of that product, and you get whatever’s left over. For example, the base price of a fitted white t-shirt is $15.99. If you sell a t-shirt with your design or artwork on it for $25.99, you’ll end up with $10 from the sale. The amount you charge over the base price is completely up to you.
Of course you can’t sell a thing until you have your own shop. The basic shop is free, but it’s limited—you can only sell one version of each product.
Premium shops cost $6.95 per month ($4.95 per month if you pay for the whole year) and give you access to custom templates for your shop, more freedom to change your look and style, and unlimited products to sell.
In browsing around, I noticed that CafePress only offers three sizes of framed prints (actual size of artwork in inches is 9×12, 14×10, and 14×6) and three sizes of posters (11×17, 16×20, 23×35) so the print selection for artists is actually very limited.
Of course you can also put your art on stationery, note cards, greeting cards, calendars, clothes, stickers, buttons, magnets, hats, bags, and much much more.
Is it worth it? I don’t know. . . from my perspective, all of those products tend to distract from anything that’s actually artistic. Just take a look around the CafePress marketplace you’ll see that it’s much more heavily focused on apparel with catchy slogans than it is on art. (Currently there are 5.3 million apparel designs on over 110 million clothing products.)
And even though there are far fewer art prints and posters (1.3 million designs on 4 million products) I think it’s safe to say that getting noticed as a fine artist on CafePress is a pretty long shot.
Not surprisingly, the most common themes on CafePress tend to be political and/or humorous (remember, these are mostly t-shirts we’re talking about, after all).
As a result, the vibe I got from CafePress didn’t impress me that much—it was much more generic and commercial than other art sites I’ve reviewed in the past.
In closing, the art prints that CafePress offers are so limited in size and shape that I really don’t see the point in choosing CafePress over companies like Imagekind or RedBubble. Both of those companies allow many different sizes of art, have free memberships, and are much more likely to reach the type of people that buy fine art.
As a company and a service, I think CafePress is running a good show—you can put your favorite designs, phrases, or artwork on nearly anything your heart desires. But as an art store? For fine art prints?
In my opinion, there are better options elsewhere.
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